Tuesday, June 2, 2009

154. Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti (p. 685)

Before I made this recipe* from Italian baking authority Carol Field, I didn't know that the word biscotti was descriptive of the cooking method for these popular Italian cookies.

You see, biscotti comes from the Latin word biscoctum, meaning "twice-baked," and wouldn't you know, that's just how these cookies are made. For the first bake, the cookie dough is formed into a log and baked. For the second bake, the log is sliced into pieces and baked again until crisp and browned.

I started by soaking some dried cranberries in some boiling water to soften them a bit. Meanwhile, I buttered and floured a large baking sheet. To make the dough, I whisked some flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then I beat in some eggs and vanila extract. Finally, I mixed in the cranberries and some shelled pistachios. I missed the part of the recipe that said to pat the cranberries dry after draining them. They were still pretty wet when I added them to the dough. It gave the dough an odd, wet, sticky texture. I was worried that I had ruined it, but it all worked out OK in the end. The Book says to turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead. But because of the dough's stickiness (and my impatience) I just kneaded it right in the bowl.

I divided the dough in half and formed it into two logs. I brushed the logs and baked them until golden. I let them cool a bit and, with a serrated knife, cut the loaves into half-inch slices. I arranged the slices on a baking sheet and put them back in the oven for the second bake.

These biscotti were very good. Just the thing to go with an afternoon cup of coffee. The dominant flavor was the vanilla, which really came through. I would have liked even more cranberries and pistachios to make them even more flavorful. The texture was nice, but I agree with Teena that the second baking could have been longer, since these biscotti were not as crunchy as others I've had. All in all, these were delicious and easy to make. I would definitely make these again.

The Book says that the biscotti keep in an airtight container at room temparature for up to a week. According to Wikipedia, Pliny the Elder said that biscotti would last for centuries. I think that the reality is somewhere in between. I took a few of these biscotti with me to work every day for almost two weeks, and the last one was just as tasty as the first.

Date Cooked: May 17, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

*This recipe is not on epicurous.com.

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