B is for Biscotti

And that's good enough for me

I last made cookie tins seven years ago when Obama was still president and I hadn’t yet developed frown lines. So much has changed, but making cookie tins for friends at Christmas remains a huge mistake, as I discovered Monday night, midway through a four-hour baking marathon. That said, everyone needs a good biscotti recipe in her life. That’s why I’m here today.

Biscotti are my favorite cookies. It’s a biscuit for all times and occasions: breakfast, lunch, dinner, after-dinner, pre-dawn panic attack, etc. This basic recipe is from my friend Andrew, who some Salt Lakers will remember as the former owner of Bubble & Brown Bakery until he decided to move to Portland and drive a pedicab or something. His recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen, another good authority for basic recipes. Listen: THERE ARE NO ORIGINAL RECIPES. Only infinite possibilities to mess things up and ruin your night. But I think you will like the flexibility of this one. Just remember to mix sugar and eggs together first.

I put orange zest and anise seed in the ones you see above, but there is no wrong combo. You could do chopped almonds and chocolate, or lemon zest and pistachios, or cranberry and oats. Also if you’re not weighing your ingredients, please buy yourself a kitchen scale this holiday season.

Biscotti

2 eggs
198 g (~1 cup) sugar
zest of 1/2 orange or lemon (if that fits your flavors, otherwise exclude)
56 g melted butter
1-2 tsp extract (could be vanilla, almond, or orange — I used orange for mine)
270 g (~2 1/4 cups) AP Flour (you can sub 25 g for another flour, like almond meal, spelt or ww)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB toasted anise seeds (I saved some for pressing into the top)
OPT ADDITIONS INSTEAD OF ORANGE & ANISE:
1/2 cup toasted and chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup cranberries or oats

1. If using, zest citrus into sugar and massage with fingers before pouring in mixing bowl with eggs.

2. Whip eggs and sugar for 3-5 minutes in mixer on medium-high speed until batter looks silky and ribbony.

3. Add melted (but somewhat cooled) butter and extract. Mix until incorporated.

4. Add flour, baking powder, salt and any additions (seeds/chocolate/nuts/fruit). Mix on low until just incorporated. Make sure to scrape down sides.

5. Flour hands and counter well, dump dough on counter and divide in half. Gently form into two 9x2 logs. Wrap individually in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

~BAKING~

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Pull out dough logs and put on big sheet pan with parchment spaced 2-3 in apart to allow them room to spread.

2. Opt: Brush top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar or nuts or seeds for a pretty crust!

3. First bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 min.

4. Remove one log at a time onto cutting board (being careful not to break). Using serrated knife, cut 3/4 in-1 inch slices, gently place them on one side back onto sheet pan. Repeat until pan is full of what should now look like biscotti.

5. Second bake for 25-30 min, or until golden brown, making sure to rotate pan halfway through and flip each piece over so color is even on both sides.

6. After they cool down you can keep these in a plastic container for a week or so. Or go crazy and gift them to all your oat-milk-latte sipping, Fellini-film watching epicurean friends.

If you’re interested, here are the recipes for earthquake chai cookies, marbled tahini shortbread and thumbprints from my tin.

This is my last newsletter of 2019. Sad! I hope you have a wonderful holiday and New Year. I also, fingers crossed, hope to have better job news to share early next year. In the meantime read a good book, go see Knives Out and drink lots of hot toddies.