Yield: 1 Servings
The name biscotti literally translated means "twice-cooked." The method is to form the dough into logs and bake until they are golden brown. These logs are then sliced and baked again to give them that characteristic crunch and dryness. Since most recipes contain no butter, biscotti will remain fresh for up to three weeks. The recipes that do contain butter will keep up to a week and will produce a much softer cookie.
MIXING THE DOUGH Biscotti is deceptively simple to make. While using an electric mixer will make the going a little easier, a large bowl and wooden spoon are more than adequate. The trick here is to NOT OVERMIX. I cannot stress this point enough. If the dough is overmixed the texture is altered and becomes finer, denser. If you choose to use an electric mixer, it's a good idea to mix in the last amounts of dry ingredients by hand, just to be sure. Another tip is to beat the eggs thoroughly before adding them to the dry ingredients.
FORMING THE LOGS Your mixed dough will be a little tacky to the touch.
Lightly sprinkle flour on your work surface, on top of the dough and on your hands. Use a minimal amount of flour, just enough to prevent sticking. Avoid covering the logs with flour. Using your palms, roll the dough into even logs. Ideally they should be two inches in diameter and between ten and fourteen inches long. But this would depend on the amount of dough and the size of your baking sheet. If you make smaller logs, please be aware that the baking time will change as well.
Lift the logs with your hands and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with kitchen parchment or lightly greased.
As a rule, biscotti are baked at 350 until they are a light golden brown hue. This generally takes about 30 minutes, depending on your oven and ingredients used in a particular recipe. When the logs have completed their first baking, they should be expanded in size and firm but not dry. Biscotti are edible at this point but not nearly as good as when twice-baked. As a side note, if your recipe calls for cocoa, bake at 325 to avoid overbaking and a burnt taste.
Once the biscotti logs have cooled, slice them ¾ inch thick on a slight diagonal with a VERY SHARP knife. You can use a serrated knife, but you compromise that clean cut edges. The second baking at the lower temperature allows the cookie to dry out and firm up.
Spread the cut biscotti out flat on the baking sheet or to save space, stand them up so both cut sides are exposed. Either method is satisfactory. At this point, choose the dryness you prefer and adjust the baking time accordinglythe longer you bake, the drier they get.
It may take a little experimentation until you get it to your preference. As a rule of thumb, you want to make sure that the biscotti are not too soft in the center before removing them from the oven. Store the cookies in airtight containers. Please avoid refrigerating as they will get stale quickly.
VARIATIONS There are a myriad of variations of biscotti. Macadamia nuts, almonds and hazelnuts all make great biscotti. Don't be stingy with the nuts as they are a key flavor ingredient. But too many nuts can create problems. Remember, for a successful product it is essential that you have more dough than nuts or the biscotti will not hold together. As a rule, try to use ½ cup nuts for every cup of flour. Another tip is to toast the nuts before adding them to the dough. This step prevents the nuts from becoming soggy, while dramatically enhancing the flavor. I try to use whole nuts when I can.
Spices play an important part in any biscotti recipe. Traditional choices are aniseed, cinnamon and ginger. Chopped dried fruit is also a great addition as they add a delectable chewiness to the cookie.
For special occasions, biscotti can be coated in milk, dark or white chocolate.