Bake It Twice


Actually, that’s what biscotto (plural, biscotti) means, it’s the Italian word for “twice-baked.”  The first run through the oven firms up the dough to a cookie-like consistency, then the cookie is cut into strips and is put back in the oven for another ten minutes, thus transforming it to the firm, fairly crunchy biscuit so many love.

Today’s variety is packed with cranberries and pistachios, and was featured in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of AllRecipes.  The combination gives it a sweet. tangy, toasty essence that makes it perfect for the upcoming holidays.  Ideal for any time, really, even when it’s not cold outside.  Here’s the batter, rolled into two tubes before baking for the first time, showing how dense with goodness these things are:Biscotti Dough Many, for some reason that defies explanation, prefer to dunk their biscotto in coffee.  Well, that’s in poor taste, even if the Italians who invented biscotti prefer it that way.  Cocoa is a better option, though the best way of all is to enjoy them unadorned, letting the beautiful flavors develop naturally and without competition.

After all, there’s much to savor here – just look at all those juicy cranberries and crunchy pistachios.   What’s more, the biscotti flatten as they bake.  The dough goes into the oven in the tightly-rolled format you see above, but what emerges is a slightly domed oval, which is then cut crosswise into strips suitable for dunking (oh OK, if you insist).   What this does is draw the nuts and berries closer to the surface, amplifying their splendor.

Here’s where the double-baking method displays its genius.  Not only does it firm up the cookie into an eminently portable finger food, but the final dose of heat simultaneously toasts the pistachios and softens the cranberries now emerging from the crumb.  The cookie so nice, it’s baked twice.

*****

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (*1)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional (*2)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300°.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine the olive oil and sugar until blended.   Reduce mixer to its lowest speed, then slowly add half the flour mixture.  Once just combined, add an egg.  Once that’s incorporated, gradually pour in the rest of the flour.  Mix slowly to combine, then use the last egg.

Once batter is uniform, turn off the mixer and remove the bowl.  With a spatula scrape any dough from the whisk and into the bowl.  Pour in the cranberries, pistachios and lemon zest if using, and fold them in gently with the spatula.

Using wet hands (a must!) and the spatula if necessary, form the dough into two 12-inch by 2-inch logs, placing one on each half of he cookie sheet.  Remember to allow enough room for each dough tube to double in diameter as it bakes.  Cook until light brown, about 35 minutes.

Allow cookie tray to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 275°.

Using a serrated knife, cut the dough log crosswise into diagonal strips about 3/4-inch wide.  Discard the used parchment paper on the cookie sheet and add fresh parchment paper.  Place the individual cookies on the cookie sheet, cut side-down.  Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are fairly dry.  Biscotti will crisp as they cool.

NOTES:

1 – Instead of almond extract I used a splash of Disaronno.  It’s essentially almond extract writ large, and it contributes an ethereal presence to the cookies.

2 – An option I definitely recommend.  The lemon zest brightens the cookies’ flavor and it accents nicely the cranberries’ sweet tartness.

26 thoughts on “Bake It Twice

      1. Why, thank you, Crystal. Most flattering!

        Do I have the heart to tell you it’s far from an even exchange? Sure, reading here may supplement your collection of arcana, but for all sorts of details on music, literature and life in general, it’s on to your site.

        Still, though, you never know when something you discover here may come in handy the next time you play Trivial Pursuit. Or maybe not, as the game has collected dust on most people’s back closet shelves for twenty years now.

        Like

    1. It’s been on your doorstep for two days now. ….unless that sticky-fingered neighbor of yours decided to liberate it. Darn!

      Well, stand by, then. I’ll mix up another batch That’s the great thing about a biscotto – once it cools and is stored carefully, it’ll keep for weeks. Try saying that, Chocolate Chip Cookie. Cat got your tongue, Snickerdoodle?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Thor, what do you say we mix up a special batch with Milk Bone pieces instead of nuts?

      Of course, Tamara probably wouldn’t like those, so we’ll have to do a run first with just cranberries and pistachios. People eat the strangest things, don’t they? Still, not quite odd enough to forego lobbying for handouts, right?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. That’s a great tag line there at the end. 🙂

    The best biscotti I’ve had I’ve made at home… not to pat myself on the back too much. It just seems that fresh made is the best.

    I’m definitely all for dunking it… a nice rich cocoa is best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hear, hear, JoAnn.

      The Italians have superb culinary sense most of the time, but not always. For example, ruining a treat by dipping it in coffee? What were you thinking, People of the Boot?

      No, it’s up to those like you and me to salvage the situation. We’ll find beverages worthy our efforts. Hey, we baked something good; we really should try not to insult it, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Huh. Never had biscotti before. Bookmarked for a brave day. I like the idea of dunking it in cocoa… Though coffee doesn’t sound so bad to me, either. Something about little doses of caffeine imparted using something scrumptious as a vehicle… I just can’t say no.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Rachel!

      Cocoa? Aces! Coffee? I reserve comment…

      Maybe you can sidle up to biscotti with some store-bought biscuits. Then, when you’re ready to kick off the training wheels, showing yourself, and the world, what you can do, I’ll await the results eagerly. So many possibilities, Rachel!

      Admit it, you already are a bit curious, aren’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, please do, Rachel!

        Tea would be nice, though the best option is milk. Cocoa is a good replacement for cold weather, too.

        See, the awesome thing about recipes is that they provide you a great starting point. After that, though, your imagination takes over. The recipe accompanies you as you step out the front door and onto the porch. After that, it’s “There and Back Again.” Fancy an adventure, Bilbo?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Divya!

      I think you’ll like biscotti when you do sample them. Even if they aren’t available in the market, the ingredients to make your own are attainable, and rather easily too.

      When they do become part of your life, let me know what you think, OK?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s