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Biscotti: The cookie so nice, you bake it twice
May 2, 2017, 4:52 pm
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Biscotti (a.k.a. your coffee’s best friend) is a classic cookie worth having in your cooking repertoire. For one, the dough is easy to make, you can easily substitute flavors called for in the recipe with your own choices, and to top it all, it has a longer shelf life than the average cookie. 

But since there are not too many things in the baking world that require two turns in the oven, it is worth breaking down the process so your biscotti turn out excellent every time.

Mixing: Biscotti recipes can vary drastically in their mixing methods. Most recipes use an abbreviated version of the foaming method, wherein the eggs are whipped and then the remaining ingredients (the flour, leaveners, fat, and other flavoring ingredients) are added in stages. Some recipes also make use of the creaming method, which produces a different texture, but boasts essentially the same characteristics. The fat is creamed together with the sugar, creating a small amount of aeration that serves as the base of the dough. Just as with other cookie recipes, it is important not to overmix, which can yield an overly tough end product. You can add flavoring ingredients like citrus zest and extracts to the eggs during mixing.

Shaping the log: Once you have the dough, you are ready for your first round in the oven. Biscotti is baked first in the shape of a log, then sliced into individual cookies and baked again. When shaping, remember that the dough contains leaveners and will expand both outwards and upwards, so make sure your log is about one to two inches wide.

Biscotti dough can be relatively sticky due to the high ratio of egg to flour, so wet your hands before molding. You can also spray your hands with nonstick spray.

The first bake: The first round of baking is a lot like baking a cake. Bake until the log is lightly golden evenly across the surface and around the edges. When you gently press the top, you should experience some give but the dough should spring back slightly when you release. The goal is to make sure the dough is fully baked-through but not to the point of crispness—if it is baked too much, it will be difficult to slice and may even crack when you try. Biscotti is meant to be crisp, but only after the second round of baking.  

First cool, then slice: Before you slice, wait until the log is cool enough to handle. If the log is not easy to handle, your slices are more likely to be uneven. This is necessary because if the biscotti is not cut in the same thickness, then they will bake unevenly during the second round. You can slice biscotti about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. If you are unsure of the size, then use the first piece you cut as a guide for the others as you work your way across the log.

The second bake: Lay the biscotti slices on the parchment-lined baking sheet, then bake the cookies until they are golden, very dry, and crisp. The main thing to be aware of here is your own oven — does it have hot spots, or a tendency to scorch baked goods on the bottom rack? If so, play it safe and bake in batches. The better you know your own oven, the better your biscotti will be.

Flavoring, finishing, and garnishing: Finished biscotti can be dipped in or drizzled with chocolate. If you intend to store for a long time, you should consider tempering the chocolate. If they will be eaten relatively quickly, you can also go the DIY Magic Shell-route by adding a little coconut oil to the melted chocolate, then letting the chocolate set in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

As for garnishes, you can opt for citrus zest, nuts, and warm spices. For the most part, you can just replace your choices of inclusions for whatever is called for in an existing recipe (One tablespoon of instant espresso powder instead of one tablespoon of citrus zest, one cup of dried cherries for one cup of whole nuts). To add cocoa powder to a recipe, subtract 1/4 to 1/3 cup of flour from the recipe and replace it with cocoa powder. 

Storage: For best results, store biscotti in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Undipped biscotti are likely to last longer —up to 2 1/2 weeks—but dipped biscotti will still last up to one week if stored properly. 

 

 

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