Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rosie Attends Cooking Class. Biscotti 101.

A few nights ago, Good Neighbor Zippy came over bearing food. Biscotti. It was fantastic. I immediately tasted cranberry, pistachio, and I asked, ANISE? I love this biscotti but I've never cared for anise. I don't like licorice flavor, but I like basil. Go figger.
In my annual Christmas baking marathon, I occasionally make biscotti, but it's not on my To-Bake list. The reason for this is because my biscotti is never consistent. I can't guarantee one batch to the next. Although I can probably bet on the tooth-chipping qualities of most of my batches. I can also pretty much guarantee that when I slice mine, it'll crumble into Pompeian ruins. Enter the lightest biscotti I've ever experienced. Almost cake-like in texture. Zippy's wifey, Zoe, has a friend in the neighborhood, Zelda, who made this biscotti. When I raved about it, Zoe invited me to Zelda's home for a Biscotti Class.
Zelda went to get her recipe - from a friend - - the best kind of recipe - - tucked in the front cover of a cookbook - I love recipes like this.
Holiday Biscotti 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 3 eggs 1/2 tsp anise extract (or 1-2 drops anise oil) 1/4 tsp almond extract 2 1/4 cups all purpose unbleached flour (Zelda recommends King Arthur) 1 1/2 tsp anise seed 1/2 tsp fennel seed 1 cup dried cranberries 3/4 cup pistachios 1/2 cup dried apricots, snipped 1 egg, for wash Beat butter. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat in 3 eggs, anise oil/extract, almond extract. Add anise and fennel seeds. Beat in flour. Stir in nuts and cranberries. Shape into 2 logs on lightly greased and floured pan - 12-14 inches long x 2 inches wide x 3/4 inch thick. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool on sheet completely. Slice each log into slices and bake 325 8-10 minutes. Cool, then turn over and bake about 8 minutes. I don't believe Zelda used the almond extract and she didn't use the apricot. She subbed walnuts for the pistachios and used chopped candied orange. Biscotti is like that. You can pretty much stick to the basic batter but add whatever additional flavors you want. You can switch out the nuts, switch out the dried fruit, and switch out the extracts. Just mix and match.
The major players here: anise oil fennel anise seed
Organic cranberries. Beautiful bright red color. These were so sweet and fresh tasting.
Walnuts, cranberries, and candied orange.
Butter/sugar mixture.
Zelda adds in the anise oil from Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop. There's a site I need to check out.
KitchenAid away.
This was quite a sticky dough.
Zelda dealt with it. She used every piece of that dough, painstakingly wiping it off the utensils and her fingers. And I noticed Zelda has lovely, expressive hands.
Within minutes, in Zelda's experienced hands, the dough evolved into this.
Zelda's hands danced over her board.
Shaping and forming the logs.
Zelda took her time shaping the biscotti into logs.
This is Zooter. You know I'm a sucker for a big kitchen dog. And black labs have a special place in my heart.
That's Daughter Hawthorne on the Colington beach with Rosie. Her Hawthorne Brothers weren't born yet.
Zelda's magic hands forming the logs.
Zooter, guarding Zelda.
This is what seasoned veterans - in their kitchens - - with happy dogs - do. We step over. Or go around. God forbid our dogs have to move out of our way. We love our furry friends.
Zelda fashioned two logs of biscotti - about 12 -14 inches long by about 2 inches wide.
Zelda brushed the loaves with an egg wash ...
and placed the biscotti in the 350 degree oven.
Beautiful biscotti.
Absolutely lovely.
Zelda didn't bother to cut the slices of biscotti on the diagonal. She cut them straight down.
Zooter's waiting for something - anything - to drop on the floor.
Sliced baked biscotti ready for more baking. The texture of these is slightly spongy.
This is exquisite. The slight quick tinge of the anise. Walnuts. Bright cranberries.
Thank you, Zelda, for so graciously welcoming me into your home, and teaching and cooking. I am honored.
The wonderful thing about biscotti is that the ingredients are totally transferable. Pick out what you like. If you're of the toasted almond and peach schnapps and dried apricot bent, then by all means go there. Like I said, the nuts, dried fruits, extracts, and liqueurs are up to you.
Is this not gorgeous? The texture was perfect. Cake-like and toasty.
Stay tuned for Biscotti 102. Disclaimer: All names have been changed to protect the guilty.


SweetPhyl said...

I attmpted a chocolate biscotti about a year ago and it had the texture of sawdust cut with sand. What a bummer. I'm going to give this recipe a try...a nice lemon pistacho perhaps. If it's got your recommendation, I know it's gonna be tasty. Are you going to the Grand Tasting again this year? Hope to see you there!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Hi SweetPhyl,

Yes, Mr. Hawthorne and I will be attending the Grand Tasting again. Also, we're going to Kelley's for their 4-course meal. That's always been good. Sadly, for us, Lucky 12, with their fantastic oysters, sold out. That's always my favorite.

Marilyn said...

Looks interesting. We just might have to try that sometime.