Biscotti

19 Dec

Pistachio-Orange Biscotti

Recipes are not all the same — no, not to state the obvious, but some work, and some don’t. For example, I can quote a ton of people who can testify that the majority of Martha Stewart’s recipes don’t turn out right. If you want recipes that turn out most of the time, try Epicurean, Saveur or my go-to (especially for baking) Williams Sonoma.  The last time I made Orange Almond Biscotti – it was so hard it chipped the tooth of the person eating it. But armed with the right recipe, you’ll never have to make sure your loved ones have dental insurance in advance again.

What I love about these biscotti recipes from Williams Sonoma that they’re soft and crumbly enough that you don’t need to dip them in milk/tea/coffee and adapt as you will… enjoy!

Pistachio-Orange Biscotti

You can enhance these long-keeping cookies with either a chocolate coating or a caramel glaze. I used almonds in place of pistachios (since I didn’t have any) and threw in a tablespoon or 2 of ground almonds for extra flavour.

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
Directions:
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl Combine the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low, add the pistachios and mix in. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, using lightly floured hands, roll each half into a log 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 5 inches apart.

Bake until light brown and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes (the logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet. Leave the oven set at 350ºF.

Using a spatula, carefully transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut on the diagonal into slices 3/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 36 cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Cookies & Biscotti, by Kristine Kidd (Time-Life Books, 1993).
***

Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Biscotti

 Biscotti means “twice baked” in Italian, and double baking is the secret to making these popular, crunchy cookies. To make biscotti, the dough is shaped into an oblong loaf and baked. The baked loaf is then cut into slices that are baked again until they become dry and hard. As durable as they are tasty, these cookies keep extremely well and are a good choice to give as a gift. They are delicious served with fresh fruit, and are perfect for dunking in coffee or a sweet dessert wine such as vin santo. Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Biscotti
Note: I’m sure substitutions would be nice in this one: almonds, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries etc.
Ingredients:
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room
      temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely
     chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour 1 large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Have another ungreased baking sheet on hand.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla until blended.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. Mix or stir in the hazelnuts, cherries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The batter should be very soft.

Turn the batter out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one-half onto the greased baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on one side of the sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs. (They will spread as they bake.)

Bake the logs until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the logs cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs, still on the pan, on the diagonal into slices 1/2 inch wide. Carefully turn the slices on their sides and return them to the oven. When you run out of room on one baking sheet, start transferring slices to the other sheet.

Bake until the edges are golden, about 10 minutes more. Let the biscotti cool completely on the pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen biscotti.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).

***

Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch
      process
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
For the chocolate coating:
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate,
      chopped
  • 2 tsp. vegetable shortening
Directions:
Preheat an oven to 300ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the chocolate and brown sugar and process until the chocolate is very fine; set aside. Alternatively, use a blender, processing 1 oz. chocolate and 1/4 cup sugar at a time.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat to blend. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the sugar and flour mixtures until a stiff dough forms, adding the hazelnuts when the dough is about half mixed.

On a floured surface, divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log 12 inches long. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them well apart, and pat to even the shapes. Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 50 minutes (logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven set at 300ºF.

Using a spatula, carefully transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut logs on the diagonal into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake until crisp and dry, about 25 minutes more. Turn off the oven and let the biscotti cool completely in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate coating: In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and shortening. Place over but not touching simmering water in the lower pan and melt, stirring occasionally, just until smooth. Remove from the heat. Alternatively, melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl placed over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan.

Dip one side of the cooled cookies in the hot chocolate coating and set, chocolate side up, on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 30 biscotti.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Cookies & Biscotti, by Kristine Kidd (Time-Life Books, 1993).
***

Anise Biscotti

Aniseed is the seed of the anise plant, which is a member of the parsley family. Used whole or ground, aniseed has a sweet aroma and taste reminiscent of licorice. It is a popular addition to many European baked goods, such as these typical Italian biscotti. Aniseed is also one of the flavorings used in anisette, a popular European licorice-flavored liqueur.Anise Biscotti
Ingredients:
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room
     temperature
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 tsp. anise extract
  • 1 Tbs. aniseed, crushed
  • 1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Coarse sugar crystals for sprinkling
Directions:
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Have another ungreased baking sheet on hand.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, anise extract and aniseed and beat until blended.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. The batter should be very soft.

Turn the batter out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one half onto the greased baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter. Place on one side of the sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs. (They will spread as they bake.) Lightly brush the top of each log with some of the egg white and sprinkle with the coarse sugar crystals.

Bake the logs until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs, still on the pan, on the diagonal into slices 1⁄2 inch wide. Carefully turn the slices on their sides and place as many as will fit on the second (ungreased) pan. Keep the remaining slices on the first pan. Return the biscotti to the oven and bake until the edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 48 biscotti.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).
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