Buono Biscotti

Brick-like biscotti.  If they're really good, they could transport you to some Italian cafe on the Piazza San Marco.  And who doesn't love a good crunch?  Maybe somebody with no teeth...maybe someone that just had their braces tightened...?

The very aged and teen mouth aside, I believe authentic biscotti to be one of the best crunchy cookies around.  Not too sweet.  Solid.  Dippable.  And crumbs galore.

And as I gear up for this holiday season's cook-a-thon that I always seem to find myself in (mostly, because the kitchen's the warmest room in our apartment) I wanted to give biscotti a try.

I had two recipes, one from Cook's Illustrated - of the spiced variety and one from epicurious - a chocolately-nutty variety.  Both were easy.  Both produced excellent cookies, but both were very different.  The Spiced Biscotti were smaller, not very sweet, amazingly crunchy, with a nice kicky flavor to it -perfect with a cup of warm tea or sweet latte. And much more like the cookies one would find in Italy.

Spiced Biscotti
(The New Best Recipe Cook Book | Cook's Illustrated)

    •    2 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
    •    1 teaspoon baking powder
    •    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    •    1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
    •    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    •    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    •    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    •    1/4 teaspoon salt
    •    2 cups sugar
    •    3 large eggs
    •    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350º and place rack in the middle position.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk the sugar, eggs, and yolks in a large bowl to a light lemon color; stir in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle in the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, then fold in until the dough is just combined.

Halve the dough and turn each portion on the prepared baking sheet. Stretch to 13x2 inch sized loaf. Bake until loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, 35 mins. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a wire rack.


The Chocolate-Pecan Biscotti were much sweeter, much more like a dessert cookie.  Not quite the crunchy-madness as the previous recipe, but still a crumbly mouthful.  These could stand on their own.

Chocolate-Pecan Biscotti
(adapted from Bon Appétit | November 1999)

    •    1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, chopped
    •    3 cups all purpose flour
    •    2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    •    1 teaspoon baking soda
    •    1 teaspoon baking powder
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt
    •    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    •    2 cups sugar
    •    3 large eggs
    •    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    •    1/2 teaspoon Frangelico liquor
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grind 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts in processor. Set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)

And the best thing about these easy cookies is that they keep for decades weeks.

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