My holiday baking started a bit earlier than usual this year because our first family Christmas party is on the 22nd, so the cookies will have to last through 4 family Christmas parties over a 4 day stretch.
After work today I made 2 kinds of biscotti. Biscotti are great for extended holiday schedules because they stay fresh for so long. One is my Mom’s recipe which we all love, the other is an oldie but goodie from the Smitten Kitchen blog (in blog years, 2008 is an oldie!) which was actually taken from a 1993 N.Y. Times recipe. [1993 was an awesome year, my HS graduation and the height of grunge. As I write this I’m still wearing a flannel shirt – grunge is back!]
By the way, Chris loves to eat the biscotti ends after the first round of baking. He likes when they are still a little soft – but only the ends are really cooked through by that point. He asked if I could find a way to get them to cook through and still be soft. I think that using the dough to make drop cookies and cooking them for less time (8-10 minutes?) might work. I’ll have to test that out one day.
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
adapted from Smitten Kitchen – her photos and tips are always excellent, especially the warning that this is the stickiest dough ever! My changes and notes are in bold. Note: this is a traditional crunchy biscotti recipe, good for dunking!
Total time: 1 hour Makes about
60 40 biscotti
whole chopped hazelnuts, preferably blanched
2 1/2 cups flour, plus flour for work surface
1/2 cup Dutch-style cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder [I used instant espresso]
Pinch of salt [1/8 tsp]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts [on baking sheet lined with parchment] and toast about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Set toasted nuts aside.
2. In medium bowl add flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder together and whisk to blend [simpler than sifting]. Set aside.
3. Beat eggs lightly, just until blended, in mixing bowl with whisk or in electric mixer. Remove two tablespoons of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough, then mix in hazelnuts [I used my mixer for all of this, including mixing in the hazelnuts; super easy!].
4. Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a well-floured work surface. (She is not kidding about this.) With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the hazelnuts on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg.
5. Place in the oven [still at 350 F] and bake about
15 20-25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Allow the loaves to cool on a rack for 10 minutes but keep the oven on. Transfer to a cutting board and cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick [I can’t do that, I did about 3/4″]. Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes [flipping them over half-way through the baking] until they are crisp and dry. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving. Store for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
Mom’s cranberry walnut biscotti are so delicious. They are just a tiny bit moister that traditional biscotti, but still crunchy. Almond extract and pomegranate juice also lend great flavor (and scent). I made just two changes to Mom’s recipe, I replaced cherry juice with pomegranate juice (because we always have that in the house), and I replaced the semi-sweet chocolate chips with white chocolate – I had to make something without semi-sweet chocolate – I must be the only baker that hates the smell of chocolate chips baking.
Cranberry Walnut White Chocolate Biscotti
Total time: 1 hour Makes 2 dozen (when cut in 3/4″ish slices from a 6″ wide loaf – next time I will make the loaves only about 3″ wide so that I can get more biscotti)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts [next time I think I’ll use pistachios to add some more color]
1/2 cup white chocolate chips [Mom uses semi-sweet]
2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
cherry pomegranate juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix flour, sugar, cranberries, walnuts, chocolate chips, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl, mix oil, extracts, juice, and eggs. Whisk until blended. Add wet to dry mixture and stir well until blended (no mixer needed, a spatula will work very well).
4. Turn dough out on to floured surface and knead just until smooth. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 6″ wide rectangle. Place on parchment and flatten to 1″ thickness.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.
6. Slice in 1/2 to 3/4″ slices (on the diagonal) and place slices cut side down on parchment to bake for another 20 minutes, flipping the biscotti over half-way through the baking time. Cookies will be a bit softer than traditional biscotti when finished baking but will harden when cool. Allow them to cool completely before serving.