Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fast & Easy Biscotti

 Biscotti. A coffeehouse indulgence. Or from a box at the grocery store. Or homemade--but gosh, what a hassle! I've made biscotti from scratch a few times and although these twice-baked cookies are actually pretty simple, they seem intimidating. Get the dough just right. Add ingredients. Hope they hold together okay when they're finished. Geez.

I made these biscotti recently, for a presentation where I was supposed to bring some sort of snack. The original recipe doesn't call for chocolate--but chocolate goes so well with coffee. If you're not a chocolate person, leave it out. The base for these biscotti allows you a lot of flexibility with your ingredients, so work with what you have. I happened to want to make my biscotti tropical, since cinnamon and nutmeg are already tropical flavors (so is vanilla, for that matter), so I added papaya, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and sesame seeds.

When I worked my dough, it came out a bit drier than I would have liked so I added some cold coffee (about 1 tablespoon) to the dough. Why coffee instead of water? Extra flavor -- specifically an earthy flavor that would blend well with tropical flavors I was already using.

Fast & Easy Biscotti (with papaya, chocolate, and sesame seeds)
1 (16.5 or 18-ounce) roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough

2/3 cup all-purpose, whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups chopped papaya, coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips, and sesame seeds*
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (a few drops of orange extract can be added as well)
1 tablespoon cold coffee, or water**

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Break up the cookie dough into large bowl; let stand for 10–15 minutes to soften.

Add flour, cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract to the cookie dough; mix well with your fingers, the paddle attachment of an electric stand mixer, or a wooden spoon. Add coffee/water if needed so that the dough just holds together.

Divide dough into two equal halves. On the cookie sheet, shape each dough half into a 12 x 2-inch rectangle, 3/4-inch high, spacing the dough halves about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 26–28 minutes or until the logs are deep golden brown and spring back in the center when touched. Remove sheet from oven; keep oven on. Let cool for 3-4 minutes and then using two pancake turners, lift logs, one at a time, from the cookie sheet to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut one of the logs into 3/4-inch wide slices. Note: for longer biscotti, cut at a deep diagonal; for shorter biscotti, cut log crosswise. Repeat with second log.

Place slices on the same cookie sheet (do not worry about the spacing). Bake slices for 5 minutes; remove from oven and turn over all of the slices. Return cookie sheet to oven and bake for 5 minutes longer. Turn off oven and let biscotti sit in oven for approximately 15 more minutes.

Remove sheet from oven and let cool for 10 minutes and then transfer biscotti to a wire rack; cool completely.

Makes 28 biscotti.
*Other fun combinations might include:
  • Cranberries, chocolate chips/white chocolate chips, pistachios
  • Cinnamon chips and white chocolate chips
  • White chocolate chips and pecans
  • Pecans and dried apricots
**You'll want the dough to hold together just enough to form it into two logs. You do not want sticky dough. Add additional liquid only if needed.

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