Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The best biscotti ever

I was at a friend's party a few weeks ago, when another friend, a co-worker of mine, brought his famous biscotti as a snack. Normally I'm not a big fan of biscotti. It's nice when you're drinking coffee or tea, but not something I would seek out to nibble on. After a few drinks, I saw the biscotti on the tray and grabbed one to try. It was seriously the best biscotti I've ever tasted. I mentioned this to a few other co-workers sitting next to me and soon enough we were all eating the cookies as fast as we could get our hands on them. 

So when Peter, the biscotti baker, volunteered to teach me how to make the cookies, I jumped at the opportunity. After school yesterday (Yes, we are still in school. Our last day is the 27th.), Peter came over to my apartment and shared his recipe and secrets to success. Surprisingly, biscotti is relatively easy to bake. For some reason, I kept thinking it would be a long, drawn-out process (like macaroons, but that's a whole other post). Perhaps it was the whole baking it twice thing that had me thinking this.

The ingredients are all mixed together and then shaped into two logs on a cookie sheet to bake. The cookies bake longer than it takes to get all the ingredients together, shape the dough, and cut the cookies.

Once baked (and thoroughly cooled), the logs get sliced in half and then into little pieces. This was much simpler than I thought it would be. The biscotti bites are then placed on a cookie sheet again to bake at a lower temp for 15 minutes.
And that's it! The biscotti bites need to sit out for a bit to harden up and cool down, but that's it. The whole process took us less than two hours and provided ample time to chat about summer plans and school stuff. 
I plan to bring the biscotti to school today to share with our co-workers. I'm sure they'll make everyone's day just a little sweeter. Here is the recipe (courtesy of my fabulous co-worker, Peter!):

Union Square Cafe Biscotti

2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of whole almonds (you can used sliced, which is what we used since I didn't have whole almonds)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbs cornmeal
1 1/2 Tbs aniseed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (at room temperature)
8 Tbs butter (at room temperature)
1 Tbs vanilla
I Tbs Pernod or Anisette
1 egg white and 1 Tbs sugar (for the crust)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Mix dry ingredients together and combine using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer.
  2. Add the butter and mix until sandy looking. (Note: You can soften the butter in the microwave if necessary, but do not let it melt. Use the defrost setting if needed.)
  3. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, vanilla and Pernod (or Anisette).
  4. Add to flour mixture and mix on low speed. A soft dough should form.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form two logs, each 4" x 15" on a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a Silpat.
  6. Brush the egg white evenly over the two logs, coating the sides as well. Sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Allow to cool completely.
  8. To make smaller, more bite size biscotti, cut each log in half diagonally and then at 1/4" intervals. For longer biscotti, do not cut the log in half.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 325.
  10. Put the biscotti pieces on a cookie sheet without parchment or a silpat (you can use the same one, just remove paper or mat) and bake again for 15 minutes at 325.
  11. Allow biscotti to cool before packaging.

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