Sunday, February 8, 2015

American Style Vanilla Biscotti

I've found myself making a lot of biscotti lately. I just can't seem to sit down with a cup of coffee without wanting something small and sweet to snack on and biscotti are the perfect way for me to fix this problem. They are easy to make, usually make a large batch, and can be shaped into whatever size you might want. For the last couple of rounds of biscotti making I've been playing around with different variations on this recipe from King Arthur Flour. They call it American style biscotti because it is not quite as rock hard as some of the traditional Italian biscotti recipes. These cookies bake up crisp and light, crunchy without being teeth shattering. I think they have the perfect balance of crunchy sweetness to go alongside my cup of afternoon coffee. And the great thing about biscotti is they last for several weeks in an airtight container on you counter or in the cupboard. That means not having to worry about running out anytime soon or having them go bad. It is the perfect way to ensure you always have a sweet treat around for snacking on for those moments when you just need a little something to get yourself through the afternoon. 

These cookies are wonderful just straight up and plain, but for this batch I decided to go with a little drizzle of chocolate for a little added visual interests and of course to boost the flavor up just one more notch. This is a great recipe to use as a starting point for any number of wonderful combinations you might want to try. I've made several other batches that might make an appearance on the blog in the future. Really any dried fruit, any type of chocolate, or any nut/seed would make a wonderful add in. You can't go wrong so let your imagination go wild and give this recipe try. 

American Style Vanilla Biscotti
From King Arthur Flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract (if you're using it), and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Divide it in half, and shape it into two 9 1/2" x 2" logs, about 3/4" tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here. Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired, pressing it in gently.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.

Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2" to 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal, for fewer, longer biscotti. As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.

Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.

Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they'll stay good for weeks.

Yield: 30 to 40 biscotti, depending on size.

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