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Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Biscotti Recipe, 4 Extremely Talented Bakers.. and Me. =)

*UPDATED* - Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti recipe added below

I just got done reading Peabody's, Brilynn's, Helene's and Ivonne's posts about their biscotti. I couldn't be more impressed and awed. What a fabulous job you guys did!! Thank you so much for joining Ivonne and I in baking this recipe! I truly look forward to next month and can't wait to see what we'll be making. :D Oh yes.. I've decided.. and made that executive decision without being anywhere nears an executive, that we shall do this again next month.. Oh yes, my friends, we shall. Muahahaa!

This was my first time baking biscotti. I've always paid the big bucks for these crunchy cookies and never even gave it a thought. Until Ivonne and I were talking about what to make this month and after suggestions of panettone (scared the bejebus outta me) and Christmas cookies, she came up with biscotti. My eyes lit up and a very large smile appeared on my face. Of course! Biscotti! Perfect! And so it was settled. By this time, I had already spoken with Peabody about her wishes to join us and Ivonne had spoken to Brilynn - so now the 2 of us had become 4. I was tickled. A few days later, as I was writing what seems to be my weekly letter to Helene, I realized she'd probably enjoy making biscotti too, so I invited her as well. I was very happy to find out that she was definitely up for it - now we had 5! And I was just delighted. =)

Well let me tell you.. had I known how easy it was to make such delicious biscotti in my own kitchen I would have NEVER shelled out a dime for those "gourmet" cookies I've always loved. Of course this is thanks to Dorie Greenspan and her fabulous book, Baking: From My Home To Yours. Kids? If you haven't bought or begged for this book yet, seriously - get on it. You will NOT be disappointed. Her inclusion of Thelma Labensky's recipe for Chocolate Biscotti was heaven sent. When I read the ingredients and saw espresso powder in the list, I knew this would be a damn good biscotto. And ohhhh is it! The cookie has a nice crunch and isn't too sweet. The chocolate is very pronounced, thanks to the espresso powder. I don't digest nuts well, so I left out the almonds but kept in the chunks of semi-sweet chocolate. Well duh. Aside from that, I followed the recipe to the T. Right up to the option of dipping them into white chocolate. Not a white chocolate fan here. Actually, I hate the stuff. BUT, my creative juices were flowin' and I thought adding cinnamon to white chocolate might make it good enough to eat. Alas, this did not come to fruition as my white chocolate would not melt. I used a double boiler and gently brought the heat up, but my chocolate would only melt to a thick, frosting like, consistency. So I chucked it. And then I ran to the freezer for my good semi-sweet stash and got on with the dipping!

Chocolate Biscotti
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin Company, Nov 2006

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TBS. instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 stick (6 TBS.) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 3/4 c. store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sugar for dusting

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don't worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Chocolate Biscotti ready to bake

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack - and that's just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

Chocolate Biscotti 1st bake

Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet - you'll have an army of biscotti - and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

Chocolate Biscotti 2nd bake

Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Chocolate Biscotti and Cinnamon Biscotti Dipped

Playing Around:
Chocolate-Cherry Biscotti: As impossible as it seems, these are even more irresistible than the original version. Add 1/3 co. of chopped dried cherries to the dough along with he almonds and chocolate.

White Chocolate Dipped Biscotti: Have a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or a sheet of parchment or wax paper at hand. Gently melt 12 oz. finely chopped white chocolate or 2 c. store bought white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and scrape the chocolate into a narrow heatproof container. One by one, dip the biscotti into the chocolate, coating them to their midpoints. Lay the biscotti on the mat or paper, and when they are all dipped, slide them into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to set the white chocolate.

My Notes:
I must have cut mine thicker than Dorie's as I only had 30 biscotti. Also pictured are cinnamon biscotti that I also made. They were equally delightful - with a big kick of cinnamon for you cinnamon lovers. Unfortunately, I'm about done tuckered out tonight, so I'll post the cinnamon biscotti recipe tomorrow morning. =)

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
Courtesy of Mollie and All Recipes

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. sugar
6 TBS. butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten

3 TBS. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the 2/3 c. sugar and butter. Beat in 1 egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. (I used my stand mixer for all of this)

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time (you'll need to knead this dough a bit to get the unmixed dry ingredients incorporated thoroughly), roll the dough into 9 inch long 1 1/2 inch wide logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand slightly, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden and firm to the touch. Cool for 15 minutes.

Cinnamon Biscotti first bake

On a cutting board, slice each log crosswise at a diagional into 1/2 inch slices, using a serrated knife. *Note: see below for notes on slicing. Place back on baking sheet, cut side down and sprinkle with a mixture of the remaining cinnamon and sugar.

Cinnamon Biscotti 2nd bake

Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, until toasted. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

Makes 20 biscotti.

My Notes:
Thanks to advice from Alton Brown (I heart you AB!), I used my electric knife to cut both varieties of biscotti. I hardly had any crumbles at all. Also, if you don't have an electric knife, another tip I picked up was when cutting with a serrated knife, press down instead of sawing - helps to reduce crumbling.

Serving:
You can serve these with coffee - espresso, cappuccino, latte, or plain-old-poured-from-the-pot coffee - red wine, milk or ice cream. Or, if you stick them in a cookie jar and leave them onto he counter, they'll just about serve themselves.

Storing:
By their very nature, biscotti are good keepers. They'll keep in a cookie jar or an open basket for a week or more. Wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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Comments on "A Biscotti Recipe, 4 Extremely Talented Bakers.. and Me. =)"

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/04/2006 12:21 AM) : 

I have become addicted to these as well as our weekly mails! Gorgeous, yummy, delicious. I only got 24 cookies, I guess our stomach have grown bigger (scary thought). Great job, dear friend!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/04/2006 2:13 AM) : 

I hope to bake some soon. Your biscotti looks lovely!

 

Anonymous peabody said ... (12/04/2006 2:13 AM) : 

Your too funny...4 talented bakers and me...you are talented lady!
I didn't come close to how many it was suppose to make either...portion control is my down fall...just ask my waistline. :)

 

Blogger Lis said ... (12/04/2006 6:14 AM) : 

Helene - I know!! I am addicted to both as well! =))

Kat - Why thank you! I look forward to hearing about yours =)

Peabody - aww thanks ;) Yeah mine too.. portion control has never been my forte. lol

 

Anonymous Ellie said ... (12/04/2006 7:55 AM) : 

Woo-hoo! Now there's a sight for sore eyes - miles of cookies, as far as the eye can see!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/04/2006 9:07 AM) : 

I definitely want some of those cinnamon biscotti!

My white chocolate became more liquidy when I added a little bit of oil, I heard Alton Brown say that once, and he's always right!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/04/2006 10:21 AM) : 

Mmmm, that cinnamon sugar variation sounds soooo tempting! I love the step by step photos, excellent post. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

 

Blogger Lis said ... (12/04/2006 12:32 PM) : 

Ellie - hehehe yeah it was kinda nice to see them all laying there side by side. lol

Brilynn - AB is most definitely always right! hahaha! If I ever try to melt white chocolate again I'll try the oil, thank you so much =)

Ari - It is really good - especially if you are a cinnamon lover. I used vietnamese cinnamon and the flavor is outstanding - as well as a mild heat in the background. Superb. =)

 

Anonymous Monisha said ... (12/04/2006 12:54 PM) : 

I surely will have to try this recipe out, your biscotti look perfect, yum!

 

Blogger Acme Instant Food said ... (12/04/2006 1:17 PM) : 

Okay Lis, I almost didn't leave this comment because you are getting ticked off of being "strung out" about little tidbits that I've "dangled in your face." (Sheesh! Some people are soooo touchy on a Saturday morning!) But, too bad for you--just deal with it.)

I've always wanted to make biscotti but I never have. I like to fire up the ACME oven 'round this time of year and bring the results to parties and give away (the stuff that doesn't come out so well I generally give to people I just plain ol' don't like anymore). How is the biscotti a few days later? In my house there wouldn't be any left to judge by. I know the store bought stuff stays fresh for an eternity, but then again it's made from T-Rex DNA, and a host of other ingredients from a mad scientist's labratory.

Now I know that you are up to your upper lip in snow in your neck of the woods so I'll toss ya a bone and say this:

1. The new cookware project was put on the back burner (hahahahaIcrackmyselfup)because we went nuts and used some of our household funds to buy a couple pieces of furniture on a whim. I think I'll start looking into that again soon. All-Clad will win for the saucepans,a less expensive brand of non-stick skillet (cause the non-stick thing always gets butchered somehow and you have to replace it), and maybe a Le Cruset dutch oven. We'll see. Santa is coming soon and maybe I'll just stuff my own stocking with pots and pans!

2. I read at the last moment that the dry-salting method for the turkey should NOT be done if using a frozen, commercial turkey like Butterball (which I was.) They claim that they will actually become too salty. It was just enough to make me have last-minute doubts so I went to my usual brine mixture of pumpkin ale, maple syrup and black pepper. It's fantastic and I don't know why I almost ventured away from it to begin with.

My head is a busy place to be--now you see why I go in twenty different directions. If only I could harvest that power for good, instead of evil. :)

Happy Monday to you. Stay warm.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/04/2006 11:19 PM) : 

This looks like a lot of fun...baking and comparing the results!!! I'd love to do that! Fun! I'm making some biscotti this week to send back to my dad who is now in TN. He requested them at Thanksgiving but I didn't get a chance to make any. It's the perfect time, too because they'll go great with that hot tea he drinks.

 

Blogger Lis said ... (12/04/2006 11:35 PM) : 

Monisha - Why thank you, my dear! =)

Kevin - HAHAHAHHAAAAA! Definitely the BEST comment ever left in the history of comments EVER. Your turkey sounds phenomenal! Thank you so much for finally filling in my Kev void! Oh.. and when you finally do get your cookware, you'll post pictures, yes? :D

Claire - Oh yeah, it's always the perfec time for biscotti :D I'll bet your dad will be thrilled!

 

Blogger Acme Instant Food said ... (12/05/2006 1:41 AM) : 

Lis--Yes. (period)

 

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