Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cranberry-Almond Biscotti

This week's tea snack is biscotti.  While I prefer chewy cookies, sometimes I feel like dunking.  The reason biscotti are so hard is to keep them from spoiling.  They're the beef jerky of cookies.  They are also way easier to make than I thought they would be.  Think scones or sugar cookies, only even easier because you don't have to cut anything in or get an appliance dirty.

Biscotti is Italian for twice-baked.  You bake the cookie in long logs, slice them while warm, and put them back in a slightly cooler oven to toast until most of the moisture is gone.  If you do it right, they keep in a jar on the kitchen counter for a couple of weeks, or until eaten.

I recently found out that many non-biscotti recipes can be baked using this technique.  Follower Wendy did it with extra gingerbread dough.  I bet you could do it with the Tollhouse recipe if you cut the sugars and butter in half and replaced them with pastry or cake flour.  Sugar is responsible for most cookie spreading.  If anyone tries this before I get around to it, please comment.

I adapted this from an Allrecipes posting.  I didn't have any egg whites in the freezer, and replaced the moisture with low-fat milk.  You could use water for the same effect.

Budget-wise, I got the dried cranberries and sliced almonds out of the bins at Sprouts.  Only buying what you need, and at bulk price, saves $ at the check-out.  I'm making the lemon zest optional.  I see no reason to buy a 50¢ lemon for a teaspoon of its rind.  I got mine off the tree.  No one will notice if it is omitted.

1 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1/3 C sliced almonds
1/2 C dried cranberries
2 Tb (about) milk or water

1.  Preheat oven to 325º.  Line cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat.

2.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, beat together egg, vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest.  Stir wet mixture into dry.  It will form a crumbly paste.

3.  Stir in almonds and cranberries.  If mixture is too dry to stick together, add milk or water, a tablespoon at a time, until just moist enough to hold shape.

4.  Form dough into a log 9" long x 3" wide by 1" high on cookie sheet.  Keep it centered, because it will spread out (see photo).  Bake for about 30 minutes, until firm but not hard.  Remove from oven, let sit a couple of minutes, and turn oven down to 275º.

5.  Move log carefully to a cutting board.  Slice crosswise into 1/2" strips, discarding (or eating) ends.  Return strips to cookie sheet, still upright, leaving at least 1/2" between cookies.  Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until cut edges are toasted.  Cool, then store in an airtight container.  If desired, decorate with drizzled icing or by dipping half in white chocolate and letting it set before storing.

Makes 1 dozen

Difficulty rating  π

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