BEST BISCOTTI WITH SOME NUTTY POSSIBILITIES
"This is a no-fail, easy-to-do, basic recipe for making hard-to-stop-eating crispy, crunchy, nutty biscotti. Use this basic formula and add whatever nuts and flavorings strike your fancy.
The dough is made in a food processor using a quick and simple process: Whir the dry ingredients to blend, then cut in the cold cubed butter by pulsing the machine, just as you would a pie dough. Pulse the machine to mix in the wet ingredients and nuts. Turn the dough onto the table and form two logs. Bake, slice, and bake again. If you don't own a food processor, you can make the dough in a bowl, using a pastry blender.
The butter in the dough is left in small pieces (the size of lentils) to give the finished cookie a lighter, more rustic texture. Recipes that call for creaming the butter with the sugar yield a denser, more even-textured cookie.
Always start with toasted nuts. Taste them first. If they don't have flavor, neither will your cookies. If using a food processor, start with whole nuts and be careful not to overprocess them when you add the wet ingredients; that way you'll have big pieces in the finished cookie.
Below the main recipe are some classy and/or classic nutty variations. If you want to bake a variety of biscotti, cut the recipe in half and make one only log (about 18 pieces) of each type."BEST BISCOTTI (BASIC RECIPE)
1 3/4 cups all.-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut, into 1/2-inch.cubes
2 large eggs
1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or other flavoring
1 1/2 cups toasted nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, or lightly grease with butter.
In a food processor, combine the flour with 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Process for a few seconds to blend the dry ingredients. Add the cubed butter and pulse the mixture just until the butter pieces are the size of lentils.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla. Pour them evenly over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine a few times to blend. Using a rubber spatula, scrape along the bottom of the bowl. Add the nuts and pulse the machine a few more times, just until the dough is evenly moistened.
Turn the dough out onto the table. It may seem dry and crumbly. Using the heel of your hand, briskly and lightly mash the dough with a few quick strokes to moisten any dry spots. Gather it together and gently form into a disk. Using a sharp knife, divide it into two equal parts. Form each piece into a 12-inch log. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly to make a rectangular shape about 2 inches wide. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the logs begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly on the tray, 5 to 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Using a spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife and a quick downward motion, cut each log crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, discarding (or eating) the ends. Arrange the cookies cut side up on the prepared sheet. (If the baking sheet is buttered, wipe off the crumbs but don't grease again.)
Bake 7 to 10 minutes, or until the undersides of the cookies show the barest hint of color. Don't overbake. Leave them on the tray to harden and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Makes about 3 dozen cookiesVARIATIONS:PECAN CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCOTTI
"A familiar flavor combination in an unfamiliar form with a dash of cinnamon. You can substitute raisins for all or part of the chips."
1 recipe Best Biscotti (above)
3/4 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided use
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) large pecan pieces
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
Mix 3/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon into the food processor with the other dry ingredients, reserving 1 teaspoon of the sugar as directed. Add the butter. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla. Mix together the pecans and chocolate chips. Process the wet ingredients, pecans, and chips with the flour/butter/cinnamon mixture. Combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle formed logs with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake, slice, and bake again as directed.CASHEW COFFEE BISCOTTI
"As addictive as cashews are, these cookies are even more so. I developed this recipe for an article I wrote with David Rosengarten for Food & Wine magazine on pairing dessert wine with sweets. In lieu of milk, he recommends dipping Cashew Coffee Biscotti in a fine cream sherry such as Emilio Lustau.
Cashews break up too quickly in the processor, and I prefer them whole, so rather than adding them to the wet ingredients, gently knead them into the finished dough."
1 3/4 cup (8 ounces) whole roasted cashews, unsalted
1 recipe Best Riscotti (above)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals (not instant espresso - it's too bitter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To roast the cashews, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and toast on a jelly-roll pan for 10 to 12 minutes, turning them occasionally, until golden. Cool completely.
Mix the dry ingredients in the foocl processor, reserving 1 teaspoon of the sugar as directed. Add the butter. Lightly beat the eggs with the instant coffee and vanilla. Process the wet ingredients with the flour/butter mixture. Turn the dough onto the table and gently knead in the cashews. Sprinkle formed logs with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake, slice, and bake again as directed.HAZELNUT ANISE BISCOTTI
"This is a classic Italian combo. I confess, I'm not a big fan of anise, but a hint of this aromatic herb heightens the lovely flavor of the hazelnuts. Crushing the seeds releases their flavor: use a mortar and pestle or break them with the flat side of a chef's knife."
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) toasted hazelnuts (or whole almonds)
1 recipe Best Biscotti (above)
1 teaspoon anise seed, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To toast the hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and roast on a jellyroll pan for about 15 minutes, until the outer skins crack. Remove from oven and rub in a terry towel to remove the husk. Cool completely.
Mix the anise seed into the food processor with the other dry ingredients, reserving 1 teaspoon of the sugar as directed. Add the butter. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla. Process the wet ingredients and the hazelnuts with the flour/butter/anise mixture. Sprinkle formed logs with the remaining teaspoon sugar.Bake, slice, and bake again as directed.
Source: Got Milk? The Cookie Book by Peggy Cullen