December is here and, at our house that means it is time to make this holiday biscotti recipe. I have been making these for several years now and they are one of the most requested treats from our friends and family. The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis, and to be honest, I tend to refrain from making her recipes as I find them to be rather one note. She tends to use the same ingredients in the majority of her recipes, which limits the flavor profile in her cuisine. That being said, this is one of the most versatile biscotti recipes that I have found to date. It is easily modified and can be used with just about any dried fruit and nut combination you find tasty. If you are someone who does not like hard, dry biscotti then you will appreciate these cookies. They are softer than traditional store bought, and keep for quite awhile in an airtight container.
Equipment that I Recommend
I love the website, Breadtopia. If you are an artisan bread baker then you probably already know all about them, but if not, do check them out. I get all of my instant yeast, parchment paper and unique flour blends from their website. They have an excellent collection of recipes with tutorials and videos for just about any type of bead you are interested in baking. I will be highlighting several of their products in the future when I do some artisan bread recipes. Today I am featuring their dough scraper and biscotti pan. I have two of these plastic, flexile scrapers, which are wonderful for extracting dough and soft batters out of mixing bowls. They hold up great in the dishwasher and I am hoping to get a couple more for Christmas! The biscotti pan is something that I didn’t even know I needed! It was part of a gift set from my husband last year and, at that time; I didn’t realize it was included in the package. It makes the forming of the biscotti, for the first bake off, so much easier than molding the dough by hand. If you have the option, and like to make biscotti, then consider the investment. You certainly do not need either of these to make the recipe successfully; they just make your life a little easier.
On to the Cookies
I followed the recipe as written, with one exception. I used orange zest instead of lemon. I have used lemon in the past and it is fine, but I do like orange and cranberries together a little more than the lemon. Whatever you have on hand will work. I also do not measure zest, life is too short for that! I just zest the whole fruit and have never had a problem.
And like many others, I make my own vanilla sugar by adding used vanilla pods to a canister of sugar. I use it for anything that I am baking that calls for some extra sweetness.
One place where you can get a bit bogged down is chopping the pistachios. I find that if I place 1 cup of whole pistachios into a plastic sandwich bag and gently use a rolling pin to crush them, it will equal (roughly) ¾ cup chopped nuts.
I put the complete batter into my biscotti pan and baked them off as recommended.
The biscotti need to cool for, at least, 30 minutes. In the past, I have stopped at this point and finished baking them off the next day, and they still came out great. Once they have cooled you need to cut them for the second bake off. I am not someone who can start at one end and cut even sizes all the way to the other end. I use a serrated knife and start by cutting the log into two equal pieces. Then cut those into quarters and so on, until there are 16 equal(ish) cookies. These are then baked until brown.
The recipe calls for dipping half the biscotti into melted white chocolate, but I prefer to spread one side (usually the not so pretty side) with the chocolate. I find that one 4oz. bar will cover all 16 with a thin layer. If you want a thicker coating then you may want to follow the recipe recommendation of 12oz. I like to control the amount of chocolate and then I sprinkle with white sanding sugar for a little sparkle. I am not a big fan of the colored sprinkles but I would eat them either way.
Now you just need a good cup of coffee! I hope you try these, I think you will enjoy them.