Eating all those terrific cold cuts and pastas at Galileo Enoteca (see previous entry) reminded me of the photos I had taken of some biscotti I had made a few weeks ago. Biscotti are extremely easy to make and delicious with a cup of strong coffee or strong tea. As I get older I sometimes look for a sweet ending to a meal but not a full dessert and one or two biscotti does the trick nicely. Earlier in the year, I went biscotti crazy and concocted all sorts like almond and figs, chocolate with hazelnuts, walnut and apricot and my favorite (especially for the upcoming holiday season) red and green version – dried cranberry and pistachio biscotti that have red and green flecksâ€¦ a bit cheesy (tacky) but very holiday-like fareâ€¦ In fact, they would make a great present when wrapped up nicely.
I began with the intention of making the cranberry and pistachio biscotti but realized I had run out of peeled unsalted pistachios so I used almonds instead. The base recipe is taken from Gourmet Magazine (December 2001) who adapted it from the well known baker, Carol Field. Ingredients you will need include 1.5 cups of dried cranberries, I prefer no added sugar but if you canâ€™t find that itâ€™s okay to use the Craisins brand that are pre-sweetened. 2.5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour (bleached works too). 1 cup sugar (slightly less if your cranberries are sweetened). Â½ teaspoon baking soda, Â½ teaspoon baking powder, Â½ teaspoon salt, 3 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup almonds (shelled unsalted and uncolored pistachios for the original Christmas like recipe) and 1 large egg beaten with a touch of water for an egg wash.
Soak dried cranberries in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl on medium speed until well-blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for seconds just until a dough forms. Do not overbeat. Add cranberries and almonds and mix a few more seconds. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for several times to ensure a good mix of ingredients. Halve the dough and form into two elongated rectangles, about 3 inches wide, see photo above. Place on buttered and floured baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Brush with egg-wash all over the top and sides. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree (fahrenheit) oven for about 25 minutes until slightly golden on top. Remove and cool the logs on the baking sheet for 10 minutes after which you need to transfer it to a chopping board and slice at a diagonal to achieve long angular cookies, about Â½ inch thick. Place these slices back on the baking sheet up close to each other and return to the oven for another 20 or so minutes, turning cookies once about halfway through. The cookies should be golden brown and crisp. If you donâ€™t cook them enough they will come out chewy. If you go too far, they will be extremely hard. Remember to keep oven at 325 or slightly below that temperature. Cool and store biscotti in a bottle and enjoy with your coffee or tea.