(Nov. 1, 2019) Over the last few decades, chefs have witnessed a surge of extraordinary advancements.
Cooks are constantly experimenting with flavor profiles and at the same time pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.
Distinction is an honor and should be respected to the highest degree.
Biscotti’s basic dough is perfect for showcasing a range of aromatics and giving one the opportunity to present their own interpretation of the crunchy biscuit.
Personal preference is always a key factor, but the change of seasons also comes into play.
The holidays are around the corner, and spiced biscotti with brandied fruit is a perfect pairing. Following are some helpful tips to give one the confidence and ability to master this Italian delight.
Baking is a science and precision is a must.
Scales are the most accurate way to measure your dry ingredients. But if you do not have a scale, it is very important to use dry measuring cups for the dry ingredients and liquid measuring cups with spouts for wet ingredients.
Allow ingredients to come to room temperature. If you need to bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place them in warm water for several minutes.
Mix and knead the dough just until it comes together. Do not overwork the dough, otherwise, the biscotti will be tough and brittle.
Dust your hands and work surface with flour before beginning to form the dough into logs.
The dough will have a sticky consistency and extra flour is a must. Or, spray your hands with vegetable spray and then proceed to shape the dough.
With this particular recipe, the dough is exceptionally sticky and hard to work with. The solution is very simple.
Spray your baking sheet with vegetable oil, and place a piece of parchment paper to fit the dimensions of the pan.
Pour the dough to form a log. Using a pastry scraper, mold it to get the precise lines for a more professional look.
When baking more than one cookie sheet at a time, rotate the sheets (front to back and top to bottom) halfway through the recommended baking time. If you are only using one sheet, bake the biscotti in the middle of the oven for best results.
Biscotti are always cooked twice. The first cooking process includes the cooking of the log. Then, the logs are sliced and bake again for extra crispiness.
The following recipe calls for the dried fruit to be marinated in brandy. The longer you soak the fruit, the softer and more brandy they will absorb.
The saturated ingredients will affect the consistency of the biscotti and should be taken into consideration.
Spiced biscotti with brandied fruit makes a thoughtful gift for your guests. Place the biscotti in a coffee mug, wrap it in clear paper and tie a colorful ribbon around it that matches the mug.
The element of surprise is what distinguishes one cook from another. What better way to show off your whimsical side than a gift of spiced biscotti with brandied fruit? Enjoy!
Spiced Biscotti with Brandied Fruit
¾ cup assorted (dried) currants, raisins, cranberries, figs, or dates
¼ cup good quality brandy
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon each table salt, white pepper, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice and ground ginger
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
powdered sugar as a garnish
1. Combine currants, raisins, cranberries, figs, or dates and brandy in a small bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate 12 to 36 hours. Drain, reserving 1 teaspoon of marinating liquid.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, white pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger together in a medium bowl.
3. Whisk sugar and eggs in a large bowl, then stir in vanilla and 1 teaspoon of marinating liquid.
4. Add sifted ingredients, marinated fruit and nuts, and fold into sugar mixture. Do not overmix.
5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Halve the dough and place each portion (13-by-2-inch) log onto an oiled cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave a 3-inch space between the logs.
Using a pastry scraper, mold and smooth out each log. Bake, turning the pan once, until the loaves are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.
6. Cool the loaves for 10 minutes; lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Carefully lift the loaves from the parchment paper and place on a cutting board.
Cut each loaf diagonally into ½-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices cut side up and return to the oven and cook an additional 15 minutes or until both sides are brown and crispy.
Transfer biscotti to wire rack and cool completely.
7. Garnish with powdered sugar.
Secret Ingredient – Pursuit. “Don’t waste your whole life pursuing ideas – catch a few.”
– Gary B. Wright
* In Italian, biscotti is the singular and plural form.
* This recipe is an adaptation of Spiced Biscotti with Dried Fruit by Cook’s Illustrated.