Sunday, March 21, 2010
Simple, Semi-sweet treats:
I found this recipe in "La Dolce Vita" and I am happy to say it is the easiest, most satisfying biscotti recipe! The fact that it uses only 1 2/3 cups flour means that the "cookies" are slightly less crumbly than some versions but still very dry and crispy. It also bakes up a big bang for your buck, roughly 2 dozen biscotti per batch. They will keep in air tight containers for up to two weeks.
For an easy addition to brunch bake up a batch at the beginning of a weekend and serve them with coffee or, if you are feeling especially traditional, a glass of wine. I must admit, I've never tried biscotti with wine but I'm imagining a really delicious almond and apricot variation paired with a sweet, late-harvest Riesling. Not up for brunch? Bake a batch anyway and have one or two with a glass of milk or a cappuccino on your way to class. With most standard coffee houses charging as much as $3 a biscotti you will save money and time. The recipe below is for a "Cinnamon Raisin" variation that is extremely popular with friends of my family. They are beautiful served in an over-sized coffee cup or bundled up as gifts in little cellophane bags. Disclaimer: this recipe is in no way strictly traditional. The beauty of a biscotti is not just in the way it tastes! Feel free to explore your own palette, using this recipe as a guide.
For more history on this delectable Italian staple check out The Nibble
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2-2/3 cup raisins, according to your preference
1 teaspoon cinnamon, rounded
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Grease and flour a sheet of waxed paper roughly the length and width of a cookie sheet. Place the sheet on a cookie sheet and set aside.
3. In a bowl beat the 2 eggs and sugar with a whisk until very pale and thick. Add the vanilla. Sift in the flour, salt and cinnamon, mixing to combine.
4. Fold in the raisins and walnuts.
5. With wet hands (this helps handle it without sticking) divide the dough in half and form two loaves (roughly 12 inches long). Place the two loaves side by side on the greased and floured sheet of waxed paper.
6. In a small bowl separate one egg. Whisk the yolk with a teaspoon of water. Using a pastry brush (if you've got one) or your hands, brush the yolk mixture over the loaves. Smooth any bums or ridges with your finger tips.
7. With dry fingers sprinkle the loaves with a little sugar. Alternately, you can use a little milk in place of the egg wash. The sprinkle of sugar is a trick to getting a slightly shiny crust with a little extra crunch. My mother finished her pies this way and I find myself drawn to it's nostalgic value in my own baking. During the holidays I use colored sugars for a festive touch.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The loaves should be starting to turn golden.
9. Remove from oven (leaving it turned on) and cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Remove the loaves from the pan and slice diagonally (about 1/2 inch slices), making them as large as you like. The greater the angle the longer the biscotti.
10. Remove the waxed paper from the pan and place the biscotti upright in rows, trying not to crowd them too close together. I think of them as little legionaries at this point and, accordingly, give them space to maneuver. Bake for 10 minutes or until sufficiently toasted and dry.
11. Cool on a wire rack before storing. Enjoy!