Friday, December 10, 2010
Biscotti is Addicting
These past couple of days I can't stop thinking of my Grandmother who taught me to experiment in the kitchen. Over the years I have learned to just keep adding more ingredients until it tastes just right. The only problem with this is when I want to make it again or when I am asked for the recipe I can not seem to duplicate the dish again. I am trying to come up with a solution for this issue, but have yet to perfect anything that may be of benefit. This just may be why I have not finished my cookbook that I have been working on for a year now. I will keep toiling over this, and I promise one day it will be complete.
In these last couple of days I can feel my Grandmother here with me, cheering me on, all the while laughing and smiling as she watches my enthusiasm for my biscotti making. I can even hear her laughing in heaven telling everyone, "To think this all started with putting mayonnaise in a chocolate cake one day in my kitchen". This a blog I wrote about very early on. This was indeed how I started my love and passion for cooking. Thank you Grandma, I love you.
Biscotti is as easy to make as any cookie, they just seem exotic. Here are a few helpful hints and tips to make your biscotti perfect. Have fun and remember, I warned you, it can become an addiction.
These crunchy Italian cookies are baked twice: once as a log, and again as individual slices. To make them:
•Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.
•Mix dough, adding "extras" of your choice. Common flavors found in biscotti are anise, orange, almond, chocolate and hazelnut. Other creative combinations include dried cranberries and pistachios, lemon and poppy seeds, or ginger and macadamia nuts.
•Form biscotti loaves as big or small as you like--create dainty little tea cookies or jumbo breakfast-sized coffee companions. Note: The dough can be sticky; try wetting your hands before forming the loaves.
After the first baking, the biscotti loaves should be firm and very lightly browned, but not hard.
•Loaves are ready to cut when you can touch them without burning yourself.
•Use a long serrated knife--especially if you have nuts or dried fruit in your biscotti. This kind of knife will allow you to slice neatly through the loaves without putting any pressure on them.
•Slice on the diagonal for long biscotti or straight across for shorter ones.
Time for bake number two. The point of this second baking is to dry out the biscotti without browning them too much, so a low oven temperature and a slow baking time are key. For softer cookies, simply bake them for less time. For biscotti that can stand up to coffee-dipping, bake until they are as crunchy as you like.
Make Your Biscotti Your Own:
Once the biscotti have cooled, you can decorate them if you wish. Try drizzling them with one or several kinds of melted chocolate, or dunking them in chocolate then rolling them in chopped nuts.
Well-dried biscotti keep extremely well. They can be stored in a tightly closed container at room temperature for months at a time, making them the perfect grab-and-go gift. Wrap in cellophane and ribbon on its own, or add biscotti to a gift basket with a bag of coffee beans, a bottle of dessert wine, or a selection of teas.
This recipe is a basic starter that I use. I really like it and you can add whatever you want to it to make it your own. It is a great foundation for many flavors such as orange cranberry, lemon almond, orange, anise, or whatever you can dream up. Have fun and start creating!
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)
2 cups cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.Beat sugar, butter or margarine, orange peel and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and almonds.
3.Shape half of dough at a time into rectangle, whatever size you like, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
4.Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices cut sides down on cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until crisp and light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.