Saturday, October 18, 2008

Biscotti bonanza...

Jeff's Mom had a birthday not too long ago - one of her favorite treats is biscotti, so we thought we would bake up a couple batches and send them her way! I know... we've been a little biscotti-making crazy over the last month or so!

I went with these two recipes because they have one big difference - one recipe calls for butter, while one recipe does not. Let's begin with the latter with these Almond Ginger Biscotti.

Because there is no butter in these biscotti, they are crisp and crunchy, resulting in a biscotti that is perfect for dunking. The dough for this version is a little crumbly when all the ingredients hit the bowl, but after a couple pushes and kneads on the counter, it comes right together. Giving these biscotti a fresh tone are fine shreds of zest from a brilliant lemon, along with chopped pieces of crystallized ginger. Rather than using slivered or sliced almonds, we used whole almonds, so when you slice through the dough you get those fat, chunky pieces that are striking when cut. You may think the baked loaves would be a pain to cut with those whole almonds, but the heat from the oven softens them just enough that a serrated knife will glade right through without tearing the nuts out.

If you want to add a little sparkle on top, dust each log with a bit of granulated sugar before putting them in the oven. While those nuggets of almonds definitely stood out with their nutty crunch, the ginger was not going to be forgotten - the alluring quality from its sweet heat grabbed our attention and left a lingering note that made me reach for piece after piece. I had to get these wrapped up as soon as possible or they would have never made it into the box!

The next biscotti we made, Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti, calls for butter in the dough, which lends a slightly more tender texture than the above cookies.

Instead of being a little crumbly, I found this dough to be a touch more moist and tacky. Don't be afraid to use additional flour to keep it from sticking, but try to keep it at a minimum - dust lightly and sweep off any excess. If you want, you could also just moisten your hands with water, rather than dealing with the extra flour.

While you could just toss the dried cranberries into the soft dough, we plumped them up in a dish of very hot water (though I won't tell anyone if you used some of type liquor!) - this allows the fruit to keep their pleasant chewy quality and resist drying out through the two bakings. To add a complimentary color and a little crunch, chopped pistachios are also added to the dough. As we do for most biscotti recipes, once the loaves had been baked and slightly cooked, we spritzed the top of each with a little water. This gently softens the crust, adding extra insurance against any crumbling while slicing the loaves into the individual pieces. This process won't make them soggy or anything as the heat from the oven will re-crisp that fantastic crust.

When sliced, the smattering of red and green can easily be seen in each biscotti, making them a festive cookie to make for the upcoming holiday season. This recipe also yields quite a few tasty pieces - you'll have a good amount to give away for gifts, while still having a few extra to enjoy for yourself!


  1. yum, great choices!!! this reminds me, any tips for shipping cookies??

  2. What kind of pizza did you have on Friday????????????

  3. Beautiful biscottis! I love white chocolate with almonds biscottis but I have to start trying new kind of biscottis.

  4. These look great. Thanks for the analysis of the butter versus no butter biscotti! I like adding the whole almonds too. They came out very very pretty!

  5. Having just made biscotti for the first time as I joined TWD, I am a biscotti convert and can't wait to make it again. Thanks for another couple of great recipes! Looks de-lish.

  6. Thanks for the tip about spritzing with water before cutting. I will definitely try that next time I make biscotti.

  7. That almond ginger biscotti sounds amazing! That will be on my Christmas baking list for sure! I bet a drizzle of chocolate would be nice on there too...


  8. TTFN - Wrap regular cookies back to back. Biscotti tend to be very sturdy, so we don't really take any other precautions!

    Anonymous - The Peking Chicken Pizza.

    Helene - Thanks!

    TFL - Yeah, I like how striking the whole almonds were.

    Katrina - Biscotti for the first time? Get crackin'... we have lots of recipes to try!

    Margaret - It works great!

    Courtney - A drizzle of chocolate is always nice!

  9. I love biscotti! Any and all. And try to always have some in the house. But strangely, I stick to one basic recipe that I got in the Washington Post years ago. I think I'll try that cranberry one though....


  10. Quinn - hooray for biscotti!

  11. We love biscotti and I have been making several different kinds for years. However, even though the actual ingredients and even the ratio of wet to dry are comparable on most of the recipes... I made these yesterday and they turned out so different from my others... lovely and crispy and very flavourful... declared a huge success around here ..

  12. BV - Glad to hear! Thanks for the feedback.