Saturday, September 20, 2008

Biscotti Mania

When life gets stressful, I bake. It is fairly low-consequence (if I screw up, I can throw out my mess and start over) and it requires enough concentration so that I can focus on something fairly mindless (as opposed to my school work or my other problems). This has been a tough week, and for some reason, I've been on a biscotti-making jag. While I've never taken any sort of interest in biscotti until lately, I've become a big fan.

Tonight, I tried my hand at cranberry pecan biscotti dipped in white chocolate (which is a riff on this recipe). However, my go-to biscotti recipe is from the first cookbook I purchased for myself, Cooking with Friends, which was meant to capitalize on the Friends television show. I purchased it after the initial height of the Friends craze in the mid-1990s from the bargain section of my bookstore, and my friends made fun of me for weeks after. However, I still use it even more than the copy of The Joy of Cooking my aforementioned friends bought me for high school graduation. Not only does it take me back to a much simpler time (remember when Ross and Rachel were getting together for the first time?), but it also has a lot of great recipes, including this one (for extra decadence, melt some chocolate with a tablespoon of butter and spread on one side of the biscotti after they have cooled):

Jamie and Fran's Chocolate Biscotti

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup macadamia nuts (I use pecans for two reasons: I'm originally from the south and macadamia nuts are crazy expensive)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a large baking sheet and set aside.

Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together. set aside. cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients until well combined. The dough will be stiff and fairly dry. Stir through the nuts.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Divide into 2 and roll each half into a log that measures about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, leaving room for them to expand.

Bake until firm to touch (about 30 - 35 minutes).

Remove from the oven. Wear an oven mitt to hold the logs in place. Use a serrated knife to cut them on the diagonal into 3/4inch thick pieces. Lay them on their side on the baking sheet and return to the oven for abut 5 - 10 minutes or until crisp.

Cool on racks and store in airtight containers for weeks. If they last that long.

Makes about 28 biscotti