Mia bella biscotti

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The very first time I had a biscotti I thought, “What’s with this stale cookie”?  After a few trips to Italy, sampling pizza, pasta, gelato, panna cotta, and, of course, biscotti, I was hooked on this unique treat.  I was determined to find a fantastic recipe that could rival Italy’s best. Experimenting with different ingredients and baking times I think I have finally reached my goal.  At one of my George Brown classes I received some excellent chef’s tips for baking biscottis.  By combining those solid techniques with some recipe ingredient creativity, I now have a food formula that is guaranteed to please even a Calabrais palate. The Bolton community center The Exchange where I bake once a week were having their grand opening and asked me to come in and bake for a crowd of 80 plus. I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to experiment with my biscottis. I made three different variations with my personal favorite being chocolate cherry almond.  Glad to share that my treat was a big hit!  The best endorsement came from the local owner of Garden Foods Market- the absolute best private grocery store for fresh produce and garden items (he and his wife are very generous supporters of The Exchange and many other community assistive events around Bolton).  “I have had many biscottis in my life, but these are the best biscottis I have ever had.  Where can I get them?”, he said.  The simple answer for he and you is to just read below.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscotti

Yield 4 dozen (but depends on how you cut them)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder-sifted

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup dried cherries-coarsely chopped

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

3 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

– pre-heat oven to 325F

– line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

1) in large bowl whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt – mix well

2) add the cherries, almonds and chocolate chips and toss with your hands to distribute them evenly

3) in another bowl, whisk the whole eggs, egg white, vanilla and almond extract – and mix till blended

4) add wet ingredients to dry ingredients -mix with blender on low speed

dough will be very thick,dense and sticky

5) divide dough in half

6) place a piece of plastic wrap on counter and transfer half of dough to wrap /lightly moisten hand with cold water to prevent dough from sticking and shape dough into a 12″ long by 2 1/2″ wide and 1″ high.

7) lift plastic wrap and flip onto centre of prepared baking sheets

8) repeat with remaining dough

9) bake the logs until they are dry to touch – and firm in centre when pressed – about 30min/ NOTE dough will spread a lot and might crack on top

10) transfer to wire rack and let logs cool for 30min

11) transfer to cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2 wide slices

12) arrange slices cut side down on baking sheet and bake for 15min, then flip each biscotti and bake another 15min

biscotti should be dry and crisp

13) transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before decorating

NOTE: you can leave biscotti plain or choose to decorate with chocolate or chopped nuts

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dry ingredients

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wet ingredients

mixing wet into dry ingredients

mixing wet into dry ingredients

thick dense dough

thick dense dough

pressing into logs

pressing into logs

chocolate drizzle and amlond decoration

chocolate drizzle and almond decoration

Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti

Yield 4 dozen (but depends on how you cut them)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Zest of one large orange

1 cup pistachios – chopped

1 cup dried apricots,thinly sliced

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

– pre-heat oven to 325F

– line baking sheet with parchment paper

1) in medium bowl whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt

2) in stand mixer add butter, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and blend until combined

3) gradually add the flour mixture until fully incorporated – NOTE dough will be very dense and thick

4) by hand with wooden spoon add pistachios, apricots and chocolate chips

5) follow same steps as above (chocolate cherry almond biscotti) step 5 onward

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Hazelnut-Fig White Chocolate Biscotti

Yield 4 dozen (but depends on how you cut them)

2 cups hazelnuts

1 cup dried figs-thinly chopped

3/4 cup white chocolate-chopped

3/4 cup unsalted butter-cubed

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

– pre-heat oven to 325F

– line 2 cooking sheets with parchment paper

1) spread hazelnuts on cooking sheet and bake for 12-14 min/let  cool and rub off as much of skins as possible transfer to cutting board and rough chop

2) in a stand mixer fitted with paddle – beat the butter and both sugars until smooth

3) add eggs and mix until combined

4) in small bowl whisk flour with baking powder and salt

5) add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat on low-speed until combined

6) add nuts, figs and chocolate with wooden spoon – mix by hand until combined – NOTE dough will be very stiff and dense

7) follow same steps as above (chocolate cherry almond biscotti) step 5 onward

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