Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Biscotti can be simple or fancy, which is one thing that makes them such good treats. This recipe is adapted from a basic chocolate biscotti recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

Instead of adding chopped white and semisweet chocolate to the dough like the original recipe called for, I chose to go the chocolate almond route. I mixed in some almond extract along with the eggs, then once the biscotti baked and cooled, I dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled on some chopped toasted almonds. You could certainly leave them plain if you like, or mix the chopped almonds into the dough. Maybe I’ll do that next time.

Ingredients

  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • About 1/3 cup chopped toasted almonds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder, beating well to combine.

Scrape down the bowl and add eggs and almond extract, beating well to combine. Add flour and beat to combine; dough will be fairly thick and sticky.

Lightly dust your counter top with flour and turn dough out onto it; divide into two portions, and shape each portion into a 9-inch log. Transfer logs to the baking sheet and flatten each slightly.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Transfer logs to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch slices. Return slices to the baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes on one side, then flip and bake for another 8-9 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven and cool completely before dipping.

Once biscotti are cool, combine shortening and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth.

Line a cool baking sheet with waxed paper. Dip one end of each biscotti into the chocolate, then place on waxed paper. Top with chopped toasted almonds; allow chocolate to set before storing. Store in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper for up to 3 days.

Makes about 24

Pecan Mandelbrot

pecan-mandelbrotMandelbrot is similar to biscotti, a twice-baked creation that means “almond bread” in Yiddish. Technically speaking, this mandelbrot has no mandel, though I suspect that using almonds in this would also be delicious.

Mandelbrot is slightly softer than biscotti due to its higher vegetable oil content, but the premise is the same – bake the logs, let the logs cool for a few minutes, then quickly slice the logs and bake the slices a second time. While this might sound like a lot of work, it’s actually very easy to do, and it yields a large quantity – about 3 1/2 dozen – so it’s good for a crowd.

This recipe is adapted just slightly in preparation from Martha Stewart’s Cookies, a reliable source for excellent recipes. My kitchen smelled absolutely delicious when I made this on Labor Day, and the treats were a big hit in Mike’s office this week.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, 1 cup sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-low speed until combined.

Scrape your bowl well and with the mixer running on low, slowly add the flour mixture, beating until combined. Stir in pecans.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured counter top. With floured hands, divide dough into three portions and shape each into a log about 3 inches wide and 1 inch high.

Place on baking sheets, leaving room between each log; they will spread during baking.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and puffed, but firm to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes. In the meantime, line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place each log on a cutting board and, working quickly to prevent the logs from cracking too much, slice into 1/2 inch slices. Return slices to baking sheets and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar; bake for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven, then flip slices over and sprinkle the other side with cinnamon sugar; bake for 7 minutes more.

Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Anise Biscotti

anise biscottiAnise is used in cooking, baking, and if you can believe it, medicine throughout the world. It can be found in everything from cookies to tea, and it’s one of my favorite flavors, particularly for biscotti.

My grandma Zella, despite being Hungarian and not at all Italian, used anise for pizzelles. Because of this, I always think of anise as an Italian flavor, and I make sure I get a few plain anise and anise almond biscotti when I visit Enrico Biscotti in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Almonds would be a great addition to this recipe, but it is delicious plain as well. As far as biscotti recipes go, I’d say this was among the easiest and most successful I’ve ever tried.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon anise extract
  • 3 eggs

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, sugar, anise extract, and eggs and beat on medium speed until combined.

Add flour all at once; beat until combined. Dough will be very thick.

Divide dough in half and roll into logs as long as your baking sheet. Press dough down to about 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Line a second baking sheet with parchment.

Slice each log into 1-inch slices, then place slices on baking sheets and return to the oven and bake for another 6 minutes on each side.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Biscotti

pumpkin biscottiFun with biscotti continues! Today’s batch is a spiced pumpkin variety, with lovely fall spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger to scent my kitchen. Today, I’ve become aware of why some biscotti are much crunchier than others: it’s all in the total baking time. Surely, total baking time will affect the texture of a treat; this makes perfect sense, but was not something I thought about until I experimented with two different biscotti recipes this weekend.

Yesterday’s vanilla biscotti baked for a total of 50 minutes; 25 as a log, with 20 minutes for resting before the final 25 minutes for outer crisping. Today’s pumpkin biscotti baked for nearly two hours, so I wasn’t surprised to find it very crunchy, definitely more appropriate for dipping into coffee or tea than yesterday’s vanilla (though I’m sure you could dip yesterday’s vanilla into coffee or tea and enjoy it just as well).

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, and sugar; beat on low speed until well-combined.

Add dry ingredients and mix until well-combined.

Spoon dough onto the prepared baking sheet and, using a spatula, form it into a log of even thickness.

Bake for 50 minutes; remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Transfer the log to a cutting board and slice into wedges about 1/2 inch thick; you may need a second baking sheet lined with parchment to accommodate all of the wedges.

Return wedges to the oven and bake for 25 minutes; flip each wedge over and bake another 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

 

Vanilla Biscotti

vanilla biscottiTwice-baked, biscotti is one sturdy cookie. Last weekend, I visited Enrico Biscotti in the Strip District and picked up a half-dozen of my favorites; almond, hazelnut, lemon, vanilla, chocolate almond, and even a doggie biscotti, flavored with cheese and bacon, for Millie.

I aspire to make the heavenly, crumbly biscotti like they make at Enrico, but I’ve got a ways to go. This weekend, I’m practicing with today’s vanilla and tomorrow’s pumpkin (stay tuned). The recipe below is a slight adaptation from one I found online, adding a small amount of liquid to help the dough come together.

Ingredients

Biscotti

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons water

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out seeds; discard pod.

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla seeds and beat on medium speed until frothy.

Gradually add flour, mixing on low speed until dough begins to look like large crumbs.

Add vanilla extract, then water, mixing on low speed until dough begins to stick together. Keep a close eye on the dough, as you don’t want it to be too wet.

Shape the dough into a log and press it onto the prepared baking sheet; dust very lightly with flour and gently roll with a rolling pin to flatten into a log about 1-inch thick.

Bake for 25 minutes; remove from oven and let stand on baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees; transfer still-warm log onto a cutting board and cut into wedges about 3/4 inch thick. Return to baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip each biscotti over and continue baking for another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before dipping.

To make chocolate glaze, combine chocolate chips and shortening in a small saucepan and melt together on low heat, stirring until smooth. Dip biscotti into glaze, then set on parchment paper to set.

Almond Biscotti

 

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh’s Strip District is a 20-odd block extravaganza of ethnic food shops, restaurants, and eclectic stores.  It is my favorite part of Pittsburgh, a neighborhood I truly missed when I lived in DC.

On weekends the Strip teems with an endless flow of Pittsburghers and their out-of-town relatives, many of whom appear awestruck at the spectacle that is Penn Avenue on a Saturday morning.  They wander in and out of the shops, picking up fresh mozzarella, olives, pepperoni rolls, kielbasa, pierogi, tortilla chips, avocados, basmati rice, and knockoff t-shirts.  In the air hangs an intoxicating aroma, and that aroma emanates from Enrico Biscotti.

Enrico is a tiny shop that makes its biscotti from scratch, by hand.  Huge glass jars line the counter, featuring everything from anise almond to doggie biscotti with cheese and bacon (naturally, Millie has had Enrico’s doggie biscotti and loves it).  Enrico’s founder left his corporate job to pursue baking full-time, making him one of my heroes.

While my biscotti can’t compete with Enrico’s, the recipe below is quite tasty.  These biscotti are great candidates for drizzling with or dipping in melted chocolate, and they pair well, as all biscotti does, with coffee or tea.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, beat eggs and extracts; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine baking powder, salt, flour, and sugar; mix well.

Gradually add egg mixture until dough begins to form.

Add almonds and continue to beat until the dough comes together.

Turn on a lightly floured surface and roll dough into a log that is about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until firm.

Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Slice log into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on the baking sheet.

Return to the oven and bake for 12 minutes on each side, until the edges are very light golden brown.

Cool completely on a wire rack.