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.

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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.