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: 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.
- 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.
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.