I know … I know … this blog is about the foods of Great Britain. But I do have to acknowledge my Italian heritage occasionally. And what is better than biscotti! Crunchy, sweet and perfect any time of the day. As much as I love to dip them into a piping hot cup of Irish Breakfast, I also love to dip them into a full-bodied Montepulciano. Cuppa tea, red wine or even a cold glass of milk? It’s up to you.
Closely related to the British word for cookies “biscuits”, biscotti literally means ‘twice baked’. These Italian cookies originated in the city of Prato and were composed of just four ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs and almonds. Today, recipes vary widely in flavors and ingredients, anything from chocolate and hazelnut to coconut orange, or lavender, even lemon basil. There are no limits, let your imagination run wild.
It’s a damp, cold rainy evening and I’m in the mood for a hot cuppa and biscotti. Taking a look in the cupboard, I see dried cranberries and white chocolate bits. Okay then, these are going to be …
WHITE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY BISCOTTI
Preheat oven to 350°
1-2/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature*
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries, coated with flour
1/2 cup white chocolate, bits or shaved
*Eggs should always be room temperature for baking. If they aren’t, just put them into warm water to take the chill off.
In one bowl, sift all dry ingredients together (twice if you are like me).
In another bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and lemony colored.
Beat in the dry ingredients and, when well blended, add in chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate bits.
Coating the cranberries with a teaspoon of flour will keep them from falling to the bottom.
After everything is incorporated, cover and refrigerate for about an hour. Then dump the dough onto a lightly floured board.
Knead the dough quickly until smooth, and form the dough into a ball.
Cut the ball in half and form two long logs, about 12″ and about 3/4″ high.
Line a large baking tray (or two small ones) with parchment paper and carefully place the logs on. They will rise, so don’t place them too close together.
Place the baking tray into the center of the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden. Test with a cake tester in the middle of the log.
When ready, remove the tray and cool completely. When the logs are cooled, slice the logs with a serrated knife, diagonally, into slices about 1/2″ thick. You can slice then thinner, or thicker, it’s up to you.
Place them bake onto the baking tray and bake again from anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes. I flip them over half way through the second baking. This is optional.
The second baking will depend upon how thick you have sliced them. They should be lightly browned and crispy. Cool on a rack.
Store these delicious confections in an airtight container and they will last for quite awhile (or, in my house, two days at the most!!).
Did I put the kettle on and make tea? Absolutely! What a delightful way to end a stressful day … baking something delicious and enjoying the results!! Next time, maybe Ginger Almond, or Orange Pistachio? Any suggestions?
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References: Wikepedia, Julia Child’s, Cooking with Master Chefs