Thursday, September 19, 2013

Basics : Biscotti






Modern biscotti are associated with the Tuscan region of Italy, but this popular Italian cookie actually traces its origins to Roman times. Biscotti are baked twice - the second time to completely dry them out.  This makes them ideal for travel. (Image from americanpistachios.org) 


The Roman legions travelled far and wide, biscotti in hand.  In fact, owing to their longevity, biscotti are said to have helped fuel the expansion of the Roman Empire.

Pliny the Elder, an early Roman army commander, once boasted ".. they would be edible for centuries." Since I don't think any have been found, that probably was a bit of a stretch - on the other hand it could just be that they were so delicious there were never any left !   (Image from www.123rf.com)


During the Renaissance Biscotti re-emerged in Tuscany, where their dry, crunchy texture was deemed to be the perfect medium to soak up wine.  They were flavored with almonds from the plentiful almond groves of Prato and were known as "Cantucci".

Now, many centuries later, many still agree that dipping biscotti into Vin Santo is a perfect way to end a meal, and Cantucci di Prato can be found in every pasticceria in Tuscany. (Image from aisapori.blogspot.com)


We can learn from the ancient Romans - as well as their descendants - and take advantage of this perfect travel food ourselves.  Even though most people think of biscotti as desserts, savoury biscotti are a great replacement for bread, and can add that crunch you've been missing to your lunch salad. They can also be the perfect portable meal to take on your next bike ride or hike. The perfect thing to go with a hot cup of tea or soup. (Image from flickr.com)


Today I'm going to show you my basic recipe, and then give you a few variations to consider.  First let's start with a basic Almond Biscotti...


ALMOND BISCOTTI

These biscotti are not very sweet because I prefer them that way, however some recipes call for up to 1 cup of sweetener, so feel free to adjust the amount to your personal taste.

Ingredients :

2 1/2 cups basic gluten-free flour mix
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole roasted almonds


Directions :
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium-size bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
  • Put the eggs and sweetener into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until well combined - about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice, zest, and the dry ingredients and beat until just blended.  (The dough will still be sticky.)
  • Remove the bowl and stir in the chopped almonds by hand, then let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, form into the shape of a parallelogram.  (This is my little trick that allows me to slice the biscotti on the diagonal without any waste.)
  • Bake for 35 minutes until just lightly browned.
  • Cool for 10 minutes.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into thick slices.
  • Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.  Flip each biscotti over on the baking sheet, then return to the oven and finish baking for another 15 minutes or until the underside of the cookies is lightly golden brown.
  • Place on a wire rack and leave to cool completely before storing


CHOCOLATE ALMOND BISCOTTI
  • Once the biscotti are completely cooled, melt some good quality chocolate in the microwave. (Place in a small glass bowl, microwave 30 seconds, then 10 seconds at a time until only a few pieces remain unmelted.  Mix with knife until completely melted.)
  • Spread one side of the biscotti with the melted chocolate and leave on a wire rack to harden.

  • Alternatively you can just drizzle the biscotti with the chocolate, or dip one end (see below.)
You can use either dark chocolate or white chocolate but make sure it's eating quality.  Do not use unsweetened chocolate.



Now that you know how to make a basic biscotti, here are a few sweet variations to consider. ( The ingredients will change but the directions remain the same.)

main.kitchendaily.com


CRANBERRY PISTACHIO BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios

Optional :  white chocolate to melt for glaze


www.annies-eats.com


CHOCOLATE ORANGE BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts etc.)
juice and zest of one large orange
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks


foodgawker.com


CHERRY WALNUT BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dried cherries


littleskylavender.com


LAVENDER BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon chopped lavender flowers



meganscookin.com

GINGERBREAD BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots


www.browneyedbaker.com


FIG AND WALNUT BISCOTTI

2 1/2 cups basic gluten-free flour mix
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup chopped dried figs

realsustenance.com

COCONUT LIME MACADAMIA NUT BISCOTTI

2 1/2 cups basic gluten-free flour mix
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
juice and zest of 2 limes


bakersdaughter.typepad.com

LEMON POPPYSEED BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
3 large eggs

juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds



As you can see the options are almost endless.  Whatever nuts or fruits you happen to have in your pantry will probably work, so it's a great way to use up the last of the walnuts or dried apricots while they are still fresh.

Now let me give you a few savoury options to try :

www.mydailymorsel.com


HERB AND GOAT CHEESE BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

3 tablespoons herbs de Provence (or your favorite herb mix)
1/2 cup goat cheese 


www.artizone.com


GOUDA AND WALNUT BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

8 ounces shredded Gouda cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


www.slowtrav.com

OLIVE AND ROSEMARY BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts



ellisaysopa.com

PARMESAN AND BLACK PEPPER BISCOTTI


1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
2 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese



Biscotti are not only a great travel food, they also make a great weekday dessert and a terrific addition to your meals.  If you miss having a few  crackers with your cheese or want something different to try with cold cuts, try one of the above variations and I'm sure you will find they hit the spot. (Image from www.homemadesimple.com)

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw





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2 comments:

  1. I made your base biscotti recipe today after making your gluten free all purpose flour and it's delicious! Thank you! I have to bother with one quick question... My loaves began cracking just 15 minutes into the cycle. Did I do something wrong? I was still able to slice it (super carefully) but they didn't come out nearly as pretty as yours. Still edible!! Just not as pretty. Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mel. I'm glad you liked these biscotti. I think they are a great basic to have. As for the cracking, all I can think of is the flour liquid ratio. The amount of juice you get out of a lemon can vary tremendously. Was your dough sticky when you formed it into a log? If you don't want to add extra lemon juice (which can make it too sour for some tastes) you can always add a little water to make sure the dough is sticky rather than crumbly. This will help you with forming the log as well. Hope that helps. You might have to make these a few times to get them right ... but since you get to eat the results there are compensations!

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