Posted on 22 January 2010.
I love biscotti. For the longest time, I sat back in awe, envious of friends (on- and offline) who make it look like it’s a walk in the park to prepare. For me it was intimidating, especially the fact that it has to be baked twice. I don’t know why, but just the thought of that thwart any attempt at it! Enter Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox’s book, “The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Own“. I pored through the pages, checking the ingredients and processes, and unapologetically drooled over the sweet delights. Then, like cowlick on a well-manicured lawn of a hair, 3 recipes stood out: those of the twice baked cookie variety called the Biscotti. Hello, self-imposed yoke.
It’s crazy to think that some of us have mountains to move when it comes to baking:
- Mt. Cake
- Mt. Macarons
- Mt. Pie
- Mt. Jelly Rolls…I’m still talking about baking here…
- Mt. Cinnamon Rolls
- Mt.Homemade Bread
What else? What’s your baking nemesis?
My friend is leaving to go back to her new home across the border, and I wanted to give her something for their long flight. Biscotti would make a perfect travel snack: light, TSA-friendly, and will survive the journey. And there it was, my work cut out for me and I was ready to face another fear in the kitchen. Luckily, my first try worked like a charm. DeMasco’s recipe is a winner.
Of course I had to try making the chocolate first. Priorities dears.
Chocolate Walnut Biscotti with Coffee. The coffee was just there for props. I haven't had coffee in 13 days. THIRTEEN! Days! And I'm ok. Really. Did I tell you I'm okay?
The dough was sticky and fragile to work with, but incredibly good to eat. I’m a dough/batter-eater. I cannot resist tasting it, unless it is yeasty. It pretty much goes that if the dough tastes good, the baked product will be good, too. So I do intensive testing. With my mouth. Do you? If not, you’re missing out. Well, unless you’re pregnant, then don’t do it if it has raw eggs like this one.
The trick to transferring this dough from the floured counter to the baking sheet is the speedy lift-and-support-entire-length action. It does have the risk of sagging and breaking apart.
Making biscotti and proof that I may have taken Karen DeMasco's"generously floured work surface" too far. It really didn't stick. At all. I mean, how could it?
The hardest part in making these is the baking time. Your kitchen and its surrounding open spaces will be filled with the come-hitherto aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and a hint of something that tickles your nose, trying to let you in on a little secret. You know what it is? Espresso. The book says the cookies will fall flat in taste without it, and I’ll have to agree. No, I don’t even want to try it without!
The Biscotti Council
These biscotti are not too sweet, and would make a perfect companion to coffee or plain milk. Thinking of tea? This is your mate. It’s not too overpowering, even for a light tea.
There are only a few left of this batch, and the generous bag of biscotti I gave my friend for the trip is on the verge of missing the flight, I was told. If that isn’t the best compliment for it, I don’t know what is.
If you’re looking for a biscotti recipe to start you baking, look no further. This newbie approves. And for the seasoned biscotti bakers, this is a worthy addition to consider for your repertoire of old favorites.
For me, honestly, I can’t wait to make more that will last long enough to make it past the front door without being eaten, so I can mail them to friends! I love sending care packages of food, and it almost sounds selfish because I get such sheer pleasure in doing so. :-)
The full recipe can be found online (it’s the 3rd recipe down), and that’s the exact one in the book. I thought I’d just link to it because it’s a long one, plus I didn’t change anything in the recipe.
Happy baking this weekend!