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Fun with Biscotti!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Time: 4:25 AM



I LOVE biscotti! Who knew a hard, over baked cookie could be so perfect... so desirable?
There's just something about coffee that gives me a little thrill to think about it. So warm and cozy. Some of my warmest, coziest times have been with coffee. One of my fondest memories was while traveling in Scotland in the fall, it was cold and breezy and generally drizzly. That warm, chocolately cup of steaming, frothy, sweet bliss at a little cafe. The to-go cup, warm in my hands with its little paper liner to keep it from being too hot to handle. Wandering around a new, facinating city, breathing the cold air, wrapped up in a big soft wool scarf. Oooh I feel so cozy just thinkin about it!
Then there is the decadence of coffee. Rich flavors, aromas, that tingling feeling you get in your brain from too much caffeine. Biscotti, in my opinion, is one of those decadent coffee things. Like fancy shops and tiny porcelain cups, this strange and versatile cookie is king among all coffee accessories. An edible piece of classic elegance.
See, it even makes me wax poetic. :)
Here is my favorite biscotti recipe. This is a basic one, you can add whatever interesting flavors spark your inspiration. I like this recipe because the texture always comes out right - a crispy, crunchy cookie that soaks up coffee like a sponge!
[Note: I believe the traditional, basic Italian biscotti is simply made with about a teaspoon of Almond Extract (add in step 3) for flavoring, or you could use Vanilla Extract. They're great, just plain like that. But I left it out of this recipe, for more flexibility in whatever goodies you decide to put in them.]

Biscotti
this makes about 2 dozen shorter cookies, or a little over a dozen long cookies (depending on how you shape the logs).

2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 (F), line baking sheet with parchment and grease/spray with PAM.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
3. In another bowl (I use a large measuring cup), with electric blender, blend together eggs, sugar, salt and oil, till the mixture nearly doubles in size - takes about 1-2 minutes. Fold into flour mixture.
4. Divide dough into two portions and form each into a flattened log (helps to spray your hands with PAM first, its sticky!) on the parchment paper.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set and almost firm. Let cool to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes).
6. Cut logs into 1 inch thick slices using a serrated or super sharp knife. Lay slices on their sides (cut side down) back on the parchment sheet about 1 inch apart. Be gentle! I like to cut a slice, then scoop it up with the flat of my knife to place on the sheet.
7. Bake again, about 15 minutes, turning slices over halfway through (about 7-8 minutes, really you want them to not look moist, and to be hard and toasty to the touch). Let them cool on wire wracks before packing or decorating.

Thats it, its pretty simple really - in essence its just a cookie that you shape and bake twice.
Now for the fun part!!
I made three batches of these yummies for holiday presents this year (yeah its a bit early, but I'm having a baby in a few weeks, so pressies are early this year!) .
These are the flavors that I used, they all turned out fantastic. Though I have to say, the cranberry one was my favorite - that almond extract had an excellent flavor, it really brought out the fancyness of the cookie! So, use your imagination. You can put just about anything in this cookie.
Mocha Caramel Espresso - Dissolve 2 tablespoons of instant espresso with 2 tablespoons of water and add to the egg mixture in step 3, along with about 1/4-1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I happened to find mixed chocolate chips that were part chocolate, part caramel - thus the 'caramel' part of this recipe). When you add chocolate chips, you may need to bake the cookies a little longer as they tend to be more moist.
After cookies are baked and cooled, melt about 1/2 cup of the remaining chips in a double boiler with a tablespoon or so of butter (till it gets a pudding-like consistancy) and dip in the cookies, let dry on parchment paper for at least an hour, till chocolate is hard and not sticky at all, before packing.
White Chocolate Cranberry - At step 3, fold into the egg/flour mixture 1/3 cup dried cranberries and 1/3 cup white chocolate chips, and 1 teaspoon of Almond Extract.
After baked and cooled, melt white chocolate chips (as above). This is also great with unsalted pistachios! The red and green colors together are very festive.
Chocolate Hazelnut Almond - In this version, I added 1/2 cup of Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) to the step 3 egg mixture (before blending with electric mixer). I also folded in about 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. You could certainly use hazelnuts instead, I happened to have almonds on hand so I used those.
For the chocolate dip, use Nutella instead of chocolate chips, mixed with a few tablespoons of the hot water you used in the double boiler, to a pudding-like consistency. These take slightly longer to dry, but turn out just as well.


There is so much versatility in this recipe, I love it! You could dip the cookies in half one chocolate, half another, sprinkle with cocoa powder or coconut flakes or ground up ginger or.. whatever you can think of that sounds good! Check out some of the biscotti at your local coffee shop or Starbucks to get some ideas, too.







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