Biscotti Two Ways

Christmas always means biscotti, or should.  Only my inner Italian hadn’t made them in a few years. So, I decided to drag out my recipe and tweak it. Biscotti, also called cantuccini, are Italian biscuits that originated in Tuscany if memory serves (traditionally almond or anise) .

They are twice-baked, oblong,crunchy, and delizioso.  The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked.” They are also so truly uncomplicated and simple to make that I reminded myself today I should make them more often.

I updated my recipe and tried a new twist.  I created Cranberry-Almond and Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti.  And yes they are that good.  I blame Ancestry.com for making me remember my Italians today!

Without further ado:

BISCOTTI TWO WAYS

BASE RECIPE:

8 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

1  cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs

2 cups flour

Coarse sprinkling sugar (you know the sparkly fancy holiday stuff – Home Goods always has it!)

To turn them into Cranberry-Almond also add:

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon anisette or ½ teaspoon anise extract

To turn them into Chocolate-Pistachio also add:

1 teaspoon coffee extract

1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

3/4 cup chopped fine pistachios

4 oz (1/2 bag) Heath Toffee Bits

2 teaspoons cinnamon

How to mix it all together and bake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line pan with baking parchment paper or use silicone baking sheets (I use commercial sheet pans from Chicago Metallic with silicone liners I bought separately – I do NOT use dark pans they burn everything – aluminum – silver only.  Also known as Uncoated Large Jelly Roll Pan, 16-3/4 by 12-Inch)
  2. In a big bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, extracts, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.
  4. REFRIGERATE the dough a couple of hours wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. ( A lot of recipes and chefs say you do not have to, but I refrigerate a lot of my cookie doughs before dividing and baking.) Allow to warm up about 15 minutes before dividing and shaping.
  5. Plop the dough onto the baking sheet. Divide it in half with a knife(carefully, don’t mess up your silicone baking sheets, parchment paper, or pans), and shape it into two approximately 9 1/2″ x 2″ logs, about 3/4″ tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides- I use my fingers and the back of a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with sparkle sugar and press that in top
  6. Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.
  7. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  8. Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices. Be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll fall over during their second baking.
  9. Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes (NOTE: Chocolate ones took almost 32 minutes on the second bake), until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They’ll continue to dry out as they cool.
  10. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they’ll stay good for weeks.

 

You will get about 30 biscotti a batch depending on size. Sometimes a couple less, sometimes a couple more.  Depends on the dough Lincoln logs.

Buon Natale!

 

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