Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two Biscotti Recipes: Chocolate-Almond and Pistachio-Dried Cherry

Biscotti Production for our Neighborhood Giftgiving

Several people have asked me about how we made our biscotti cookies.  Are they hard to make?  Absolutely not.  But we learned the hard way.

This past Christmas Tom and I thought it would be fun to make biscotti, Italian dipping cookies, for our annual Christmas Eve goody exchange with our neighbors.

But we had very little experience with them.  I knew they were twice baked cookies which should be crispy, not soft.  I can remember making them a long time ago, but didn't have a recipe on hand.

So, I first started looking in the Italian cookbooks, since biscotti are Italian dipping cookies.

Mario Batali had a chocolate one, based on traditional Italian grandmothers' way of making them.   Plus the ingredients were simple and were items I had on hand.

Then, I found a festive-sounding one, which called for pistachios and cranberries with white chocolate.  I decided to go with dried tart cherries instead of cranberries.  (Seems like cranberries are shoehorned into too many holiday recipes.  Dried cherries are so much better tasting!)

Chocolate Biscotti
from Mario Batali's, Simple Italian Food
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 t. baking powder
3 large eggs
4 egg yolks
1 T. Amaretto (almond flavored liqueur)
1 t. almond extract (my addition)
3/4 cup hazelnuts, skin on
1/2 cup chocolate chips (he says mini, we used regular ones)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, Amaretto and almond extract. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. 

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated.

Roll the dough into 3 logs about 10 inches by 2 inches and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes until light golden brown and remove from the oven.

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut the logs on a slight diagonal into pieces 1/2 inch thick and arrange cut side down on the sheets.

Lower the heat to 275 degrees, return the pieces to the oven, and bake 20 minutes longer, until crisp and dry.  Allow to cool.

Pistachio Cranberry or Cherry Biscotti 
by Lou Seibert Pappas from Food&Wine online

1 cup shelled raw pistachios (look in the bulk section or specialty foods section)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries (look in the bulk food section)
2 ounces white chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pistachios in a pie plate and bake until golden, about 6 minutes; let cool. Turn the oven down to 325°.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, stir in the pistachios and cranberries.
Butter and flour a large cookie sheet. Pat the dough out on the sheet into two 14-inch-long logs 1 inch wide and 1 inch high; leave 3 inches between them. Bake in the lower third of the oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack; let the logs cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, slice logs on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick.
Bake the slices for 7 minutes on each side.

Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool completely.

Drizzle with the melted white chocolate and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.

There aren't any photos of the chocolate ones because things in the kitchen were totally out of control!! We couldn't remember what if we had added sugar or not, so we just added more. And we ended up triple baking ours.

Nonetheless, I can highly recommend Mario's recipe. It is a more authentic, break-your-teeth-if-you-don't-dip-it-first, kind of biscotti.

And the second one, a Louise Seibert Pappas recipe, is more of a cake-type cookie. The flavor combinations are great. Pistachios and cherries are yummy together.

Meanwhile, the doorbell kept ringing with deliveries from the neighbors, while we were still stressing in the kitchen to get ours finished. Why did we try to make something we've never made before?
Next year, we aren't going to try something new, under pressure, during the holidays.  That's what I always say.  We'll see.


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