When it comes to the world of desserts, biscotti can often get overlooked. At coffee shops they are often relegated to a big glass jar, rather than sharing center stage in the dessert case with over-sized cookies and fudgy brownies. I will admit for a long time I didn’t pay them much attention either. Occasionally I would order one at a coffee shop to dunk in a steaming latte on a cold day, but mostly I paid them no mind.
That was, until my mother declared them to be one of her favorite cookies. Suddenly I found myself experimenting with biscotti recipes so I could send them to her in care packages. Over time and after trying many variations I found myself falling in love with them too. When made with great ingredients they can be incredibly flavorful all on their own and provide a perfect canvas for all manner of flavor combinations. Recently I baked up two types of biscotti – Banana-Banana Chocolate Chip Biscotti and Cherry Pistachio Biscotti – to include in a care package for Baking Gals, which sends care packages to troops overseas and recovering at home. As I’ve said before, biscotti are great for care packages because they tend to keep longer than other cookies. Guidelines for baking for the troops recommend not baking with butter, margarine, or brown sugar so these recipes have been written to reflect that. I sent them off with a couple of packages of Starbucks Via Iced Coffee packets, which made for a perfect coffee themed package.
Yields about 2 dozen small biscotti
-1 3/4 cups flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup chopped dried bananas
-1/4 cup chocolate chips
-1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
-1 tablespoon canola oil
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-Melted chocolate, for drizzling (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, dried bananas, and chocolate chips; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine banana, oil, egg and vanilla, and mix until well blended. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir just until combined. If the mixture seems dry, use your hands to mix.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into an 8 inch log. If you’re having a hard time working with the dough I recommend coating your hands with a neutral flavored vegetable oil to help you work with the dough. Place the logs 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and flatten each into a rectangle that is about 3 inches wide.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Reduce your oven temperature to 275 degrees F.
Place the logs on a cutting board, trim the ends and cut each diagonally into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick slices. Place biscotti cut side down on the cookie sheet. Return them to the oven for 20 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool. After biscotti have cooled drizzle them with melted chocolate if desired.
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen small biscotti
-2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum because it is non-hydrogenated)
-3/4 cup sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 tablespoon grated orange peel
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 teaspoon whole aniseed
-1 cup dried tart cherries
-3/4 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in orange peel, vanilla, and aniseed. Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cherries and pistachios (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.
Have any biscotti recipes you love? Send them my way so I can try them too!