Friday, December 17, 2010

Biscotti


My mom and I were in the mood to bake yesterday.  We considered every possible Christmas cookie recipe and couldn't decide on just one.  After much deliberation, we decided to make something neither of us had ever tackled before, but had always wanted to try... Biscotti! 

It's a great recipe to have in your recipe collection because it's versatile and appropriate for any occasion.  It can be made so many different ways, you'll never grow tired of it.  Requiring minimal baking pantry items, aside from the filler ingredients of your choice, makes this a convenient item to make for friends and family any time you're in need of a dessert for guests.


This recipe in particular was easy to follow, painless to put together, and ended up with great results!  The texture and consistency was exactly what I had hoped- firm and crunchy, but crumbly with a traditional biscotti base and wonderful flavor combinations in each stick.

Biscotti has always intimidated me in the past, a recipe that always seemed difficult and for the more advanced baker.  However, I found this recipe in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion cookbook to be beyond quick and easy.  Just a few ingredients mixed together and a bit of shaping by hand... bake your biscotti, slice it up, bake it again and you have delicious authentic biscotti to enjoy!


Recipe Tips
  • To toast your hazelnuts, preheat your oven to 300 degrees, spread your hazelnuts on a cookies sheet in a single layer and bake for about 8-10 minutes.  You can tell your nuts are ready when you begin to smell their aroma and they appear golden brown.
  • Make sure you shape your dough in a long rectangular log, 3/4 inches thick and 2 1/2 inches wide- the length is less critical and may vary.  It will most likely be close to 15 inches or more.  You can make two shorter logs as well, as long as the thickness and width are the same.
  • When slicing your biscotti, make sure you cut straight up and down without any angles, otherwise it may topple over when baking.
  • When slicing your biscotti, slice between 1/2 inch- 3/4 inch... the closer to 1/2 inch the more authentic your biscotti will look.


Begin with creaming your butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer over medium speed:


Until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes:


Then add your eggs and mix until combined.  Your batter will look slightly curdled, but that is normal:


Then adjust your mixer speed to low and add your flour:


Mix until combined, about 1 minute.




At this time, prepare your filler ingredients.  Such as chopped pistachios:


And dried cherries:


Mix on low until your ingredients are incorporated into the dough:


Transfer your dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees:



Shape your dough into a long rectangular log 3/4 inches thick, 2 1/2 inches wide and about 15 inches long.  Most importantly, make sure the thickness and width are the correct size.  The length may vary and is not as critical.  If you don't have a cookie sheet long enough, shape two logs 3/4 inches thick, 2 1/2 inches wide, and roughly 8 inches long:


After you've shaped the rough form, use a spatula to establish a nice clean and smooth finish:


Gently pat down on the top to even out the surface as best you can.  To smooth your top once you're ready to bake, wet your spatula with water and in one smooth motion gently run down the top to the bottom of your dough:




Here is your final product- Pistachio and Dried Cherry Biscotti ready to go in the oven!


And this Pine Nut, Fennel, and Raisin Biscotti:


Followed by Hazelnut-Cappuccino Biscotti:



Bake your biscotti for 25 minutes.  Once your biscotti has baked for 25 minutes, remove it from the oven and lower your oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Let your biscotti sit for 10 minutes:


Then using a spray bottle filled with room temperature water, spray your biscotti to thoroughly, but lightly pritz the log, making sure to wet the sides as well as the top.  This will make it easier to slice your biscotti:


Let your biscotti continue to sit for an additional 5 minutes.  Then carefully cut it into 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch slices.  The chunkier your fillings are, the closer to 3/4 inch your slices will be.  Looking back on this recipe, I sliced mine much thicker than I would have liked.  Personally, I think trying to get it as close to 1/2 inch as possible will give you the most authentic looking biscotti:


Once sliced, spread your biscotti, around your baking sheet so they are not touching, making sure to keep them standing upright:



Put them back in the oven and bake them for another 25 minutes:


Once they're done, transfer your biscotti to a cooling rack.  Once cooled, store them in an air tight container.  If you want a crunchier consistency, leave them out overnight to slightly harden:



Serve with tea or coffee and dig in!




Biscotti
Biscotti Dough Makes- 14-16 biscotti
King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
(Printable Recipe)


Ingredients
Biscotti Dough
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour

Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti
1 recipe Biscotti Dough
1 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup dried cherries
2 drops strong cherry flavoring (optional)

Biscotti
1 recipe Biscotti Dough
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons brandy
1 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon dried fennel seeds

Hazelnut-Cappuccino Biscotti
1 recipe Biscotti Dough
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or espresso powder
1 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions
Biscotti Dough
Begin with creaming your butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer over medium speed.  Until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Then add your eggs and mix until combined.  Your batter will look slightly curdled, but that is normal.  Then adjust your mixer speed to low and add your flour.  Mix until combined, about 1 minute.  At this time, prepare your choice of "filler" ingredients- such as the dried cherries, pistachios, and cherry flavoring- and add them to your dough.  Mix on low until your ingredients are incorporated into the dough, about 2 minutes.  Transfer your dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Shape your dough into a long rectangular log 3/4 inches thick, 2 1/2 inches wide and about 15 inches long.  Most importantly, make sure the thickness and width are the correct size.  The length may vary and is not as critical.  If you don't have a cookie sheet long enough, shape two logs 3/4 inches thick, 2 1/2 inches wide, and roughly 8 inches long.  After you've shaped the rough form, use a spatula to touch up the dough and get a nice clean and smooth finish.  Gently pat down on the top to even out the surface as best you can.  To smooth your top once you're ready to bake, wet your spatula with water and in one smooth motion gently run down the top to the bottom of your dough. 

Bake your biscotti for 25 minutes.  Once your biscotti has baked for 25 minutes, remove it from the oven and lower your oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Let your biscotti sit for 10 minutes.  Then using a spray bottle filled with room temperature water, spray your biscotti to thoroughly, but lightly pritz the log, making sure to wet the sides as well as the top.  This will make it easier to slice your biscotti. Let your biscotti continue to sit for an additional 5 minutes.  Then carefully cut it into 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch slices.  The chunkier your fillings are, the closer to 3/4 inch your slices will be.  Looking back on this recipe, I sliced mine much thicker than I would have liked.  Personally, I think trying to get it as close to 1/2 inch as possible will give you the most authentic looking biscotti. Once sliced, spread your biscotti, around your baking sheet so they are not touching, making sure to keep them standing upright.  Put them back in the oven and bake them for another 25 minutes.  Once they're done, transfer your biscotti to a cooling rack.  Once cooled, store them in an air tight container.  If you want a crunchier consistency, leave them out overnight to slightly harden.  Serve them on a dish and dig in!


Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti
Follow the Biscotti Dough directions.  When it is time to add your "filler ingredients", add the pistachios, dried cherries, and cherry flavoring (optional).  Follow the rest of the Biscotti Dough directions as is.
Pine Nut, Fennel, and Raisin Biscotti
Begin with placing your raisins in a bowl, mixing them with the brandy, and covering it with plastic.  Microwave for 1 minute and let rest, covered, for 1 hour.  The raisins should absorb all, but a few drops of the brandy.  Then follow the Biscotti Dough directions and when it is time to add your "filler ingredients", add the pine nuts, dried fennel seeds, and brandy soaked raisins.  Follow the rest of the Biscotti Dough directions as is.

Hazelnut-Cappuccino Biscotti
Start with toasting your chopped hazelnuts. To toast your hazelnuts, preheat your oven to 300 degrees, spread your hazelnuts on a cookies sheet in a single layer and bake for about 8-10 minutes.  You can tell your nuts are ready when you begin to smell their aroma and they appear golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and set aside.  Then follow the Biscotti Dough directions and when it is time to add your "filler ingredients", add the instant coffee granules, toasted hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.  Follow the rest of the Biscotti Dough directions as is.
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11 comments:

  1. These look great! Love biscotti in the wintertime.

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  2. I just love Biscotti! Great tips and step-by-step on how to make it! The pistachio-cherry looks like it would be my favorite!

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  3. I'm getting ready to make biscotti this afternoon. I love the look of yours. I especially like the hazelnut-Cappuccino recipe. Thanks for passing that along!

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  4. OMG yours are so beautiful! And so neat - my biscotti logs look terrible! Love the pistachios and cherries!

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  5. Yum! I love the pistachio-dried cherry biscotti. This is something I too have never tried, but have been meaning to. I will have to bookmark this, thanks for sharing:)

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  6. I love your biscotti variations. I think one of the things I like most about biscotti is that it keeps for so long and goes so well with a good cup of coffee :) well done!

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  7. I love making biscotti! Thanks for the spatula and spritz tips. I'm adding those steps next time.

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  8. I love the different colors in those biscotti! And you're right, they do seem a bit hard to tackle. I've always wanted to make them, too. But, after trying panettone, I think I can try anything at this point. LOL.

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  9. This biscotti looks delicious! Spritzing the biscotti with room-temp water is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. What a grea job on this post, well all your posts are great. Love my biscotti.

    Merry Christmas!

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  11. Pretty! I made biscotti too! With pistacchios. And they were also the chunky sort. Yummy!

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