It all began at 9 AM on Wednesday, the 23rd. When Sophie ran into me in the kitchen as I was shelling what seemed like my 500th pistachio (and to think the morning had just begun) I informed her that if she found me later that day either (a) in a sugar coma from “taste testing” batch after batch of cookie dough or (b) covered in flour and mumbling incoherently about the melting properties of white chocolate (something I learned – there is a narrow range between the melting and burning points of white chocolate. About two seconds too long in the microwave, to be precise, and your white chocolate is no longer white. Although if you’re a good enough liar, all is not lost. You can probably convince everyone that those brown speckles are just large chunks of vanilla bean. And then hope they don’t notice when you insist on only eating the non-speckled cookies.) she shouldn’t be too alarmed. But she should probably check the oven. Just in case.
The excellent thing about biscotti is that they store extremely well (they are so dry and hard that they basically start off stale) and are pretty resilient. There are also about five thousand types you can make, from sweet to savory varieties, and so there is certainly a biscotti out there for everyone (unless you are Sophie, in which case you don’t like the hard texture. Remedy – I fed her the ends as I was cutting the biscotti before the second bake. I also tried to feed her cookie dough so that I wouldn’t eat it, but she has this aversion to raw eggs. Weird.).
For my flavors this year, I decided to go with a cranberry and pistachio theme. With a few variations thrown into the mix, of course. So in the end, I had one batch of Chocolate Pistachio, one batch of Cranberry Pistachio and one batch of Cranberry Almond. All dipped in both white and dark chocolate.
I am nothing if not an equal opportunist when it comes to chocolate.
Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
Makes a lot, adapted from Everyday Food (via Culinary in the Desert)
2 cups AP flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
4 ounces dark chocolate chunks
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in pistachio nuts.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, vanilla and cocoa powder. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. If the dough is too stiff to mix with a spoon, use your hands to bring it together.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons granulated sugar onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Evenly divide dough into two pieces – place each onto the baking sheet and shape into 2 12″ long logs that are roughly 2 1/2″ wide. Flatten logs slightly. Scatter the top of each with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Place into the oven and bake until the loaves are firm to the touch, about 16 to 22 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Use a serrated knife to cut the loaves into roughly 1/2″ thick diagonal slices. Place slices upright on baking sheet and place back into the oven to bake until crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer slices to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cranberry Pistachio (or Almond) Biscotti
Makes a lot, adapted from Bon Appetit
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (I used 1/2 tsp orange extract)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon whole aniseed (I used 1 tsp cinnamon and I think it was actually crucial to how good these were)
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 cup shelled pistachios (or sliced almonds)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon peel (orange extract), vanilla, and aniseed (cinnamon). Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Lower oven to 325.
Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.
For White or Dark Chocolate Dipped Versions
When cookies are cool, pour either white or dark chocolate chips/chunks (or any other flavor of chips/chunks) into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high, stopping every 20 seconds to stir. When the chips are melted, dip one end of the cookie into the chocolate goo and then place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet to cool. When a sheet is full, pop it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to a half hour to let the chocolate harden.
This is my entry for Have the Cake, the theme of which for this month is biscotti!