Sunday, February 27, 2011

Biscotti--Good things come in three's

A few days ago, Brenda at Brenda's  Canadian Kitchen made biscotti and it got me to thinking about making some myself. 
I am easily swayed by reading about food...the idea gets stuck in my head and I can't get it out.  And then it must have multiplied, because I ended up making three--yes THREE kinds of biscotti.   I wanted to do a contrast and compare taste test of my own.
I actually couldn't think of anything better than  getting up early in the morning,  getting a steaming hot cup of coffee, my book, and a couple  (or a few) biscotti and....well, need  I say more?  A perfect morning!
But oh my gosh, you should have seen my house yesterday.  Baking day.  I had biscotti all over the place, not to mention bowls and beaters and baking sheets.  I really should have taken a picture of that!

It seems that you either love biscotti or you don't.  I'm not sure there is any in-between.   I found this out yesterday after make three different kinds.  No one in my household would try any of it.  Not the Handyman nor my son, nor his wife, who were here for the evening.  I tried to give some to the twins (my grandchildren) ....they weren't that impressed either.

Maybe biscotti is an acquired taste.  Perhaps if you've had nothing but the dry, hard, rock like,  tooth-breaking, store bought, pre-packaged kind of biscotti,  you think you are not a biscotti liker. (unless you are a coffee dunker, but I am not that either, as I don't like crumbs in my coffee)  BUT,  you really should treat yourself to some homemade biscotti.  There is a world of difference  and enough varieties to make anyone happy.
Homemade, while also 2x baked, is just a bit fresher and moister, not so "rock-hard."  It's just better.  (I have such a way with words....better.  It's just better.  Really, seriously BETTER.  Trust me.)

Here are a few different varieties to try....the ones I made yesterday.

Talk about contrast and compare.  These are all biscotti.  Different varieties.

The biscotti on top is  Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti.    This is my friend Karen of Karen Cooks, recipe.  The funny thing is, I didn't get this off of her blog, I had her send it to me about a year ago, when she wrote about it on facebook.  But last night, I checked her blog to see if she had ever posted it, and she did....about 3 years ago.   

I loved this biscotti.  The walnuts gave it a different taste than the almond biscotti I am used to. I love walnuts in cookies, so this was a great taste.  The cranberries gave a great tart/sweet bite.

Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup Sherry
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, cranberries, walnuts, and sherry. Blend in flour and baking powder.

Form two loaves, 2"x 2" x 16" (dough will be sticky)
Bake at 375 degrees for approx 20 minutes.

Cut into 3/4" diagonal slices; place flat side down on cookie sheet. Bake for approx 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

The biscotti in the middle of the plate is  from a recipe I received from an older Italian lady when I lived in Los Banos, California.  Her name was Alma Petrocelli and she called them,  "Italian Almond Cookies".


If I make biscotti, this is the recipe I usually use.  Very simple and very good.

Italian Almond Cookies

1 stick of butter
1 stick of margarine
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
Mix together until well blended

1 cup toasted almonds--roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla
add to the mixture and stir well

3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
add to mixture and mix well with a large spoon.

Heat over to 350.
Place the dough on a floured board and make 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into an oblong roll 6" to  8" long and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes...till lightly browned.  Remove from oven and cut with a very sharp knife, diagonally into 1" wide pieces...return to cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and place on paper towels.  Let cool for about 20 minutes and then sprinkle  with powdered sugar.
When completely cool, place in canister and you can freeze or not.
Makes about 6-7 dozen cookies.

The third one on the plate is a recipe I have in my kitchen notebook.  I
e-mailed it to myself, which means I did find it on someone's blog.  I just didn't e-mail that part of it.  I try really hard to give credit where credit is due, but in this case, I'll just say:  one great biscotti!  (whoever... ?)
Coconut Pecan Biscotti

I could really taste the brown sugar in this recipe.  I love coconut and I love pecans, so this too is a win-win.

Coconut Pecan Biscotti

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T. sweetened shredded coconut
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
 1 cup finely chopped pecans
*optional: chocolate for dipping

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in coconut.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Gradually stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Mix in pecans.
Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to  350.
Line cookie sheet with parchment.  Turn dough out onto a floured work surface.  Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 2-inch-wide log.  Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.  Bake until logs are golden brown, firm to touch and tester inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on cookie sheet for about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temp to 325

Transfer logs to work surface, discard parchment.  Cut each log diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange cookies flat side down on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until golden and crisp about 15 minutes.
Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

*If desired, dip one end of biscotti into melted chocolate: cool on racks.


We all have our ways of taking our pics.  And before I got my good camera, I had a little folding white board that I used as my backdrop.   I used it again this time.
Here are a couple of bloopers that took me by surprise while I was trying to get a good pic.
This was my son Mark's hand coming at me...or...coming at the cookies.
(WHICH, he wouldn't eat by the way!)


bermudaonion said...

All I've ever had is store bought biscotti and I didn't care for it because it was so hard. It looks like you'll have a lot to eat by yourself. I love the blooper photos!

MM said...

I think you are on to something about hard store bought biscotti does giving biscotti a bad name.

Love the blooper photos.

For the record, I don't like crumbs in my coffee either!

Karen said...

Wow, you were busy! I can't imagine why nobody would try the biscotti! I bet I've been asked for the recipe for the cranberry-walnut biscotti a dozen times... glad you tried it!

Brenda said...

Holy smokes, no wonder I hardly heard from you this weekend, lol! So are you left to eat all this biscotti? Love the pics!

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