I am finally back. It’s been a long two weeks since my father passed away, and blogging about food was the last thing on my mind. But on Wednesday, my friend came over to visit and after a cup of strong coffee, we decided to bake biscotti. I always find my zen in the kitchen, and this was all it took to get back in the game. Ever since, I’ve been filling my time once again scanning the internet and my over-ambitious collection of cookbooks for new and inspiring recipes.
I love my biscotti recipe, and since I just made it, I thought it seemed like an easy post to get back in the swing of things. The recipe is based on one I found from the Apricot Producers of California (of all places) and I have made a few small changes to it. I initially followed their recipe for apricot-pistachio biscotti to a T, but over the last two years I have experimented with different flavours and am constantly trying new ones. Keeping the basics of the base – because I know it works – I alter the flavours as I desire. In this post you will find the instructions for apricot-pistachio, blueberry-almond, sour cherry and almond (with white chocolate drizzle), cranberry-pecan, lavender-lemon, fig-walnut-pistachio, and Moroccan inspired fekkas (a Moroccan version of biscotti).
The base is the same for all of the recipes, so I will begin with it:
1 1/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup muscovado or panela sugar + 1/2 cup golden cane sugar (* I prefer these healthier, organic and fair trade sugars, but granulated white sugar will work just as well)
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp real vanilla extract (*except for Moroccan fekkas or lemon lavender, see below)
5 tbsp butter (not margarine!), diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
One of the flavour combinations given below
Instructions: (makes approximately 24 small biscotti)
In a food processor, blend the flours, sugars, butter, vanilla and baking powder until the butter is well blended with the flour, forming a moist and smooth – almost pastry-like dough. Add the beaten eggs and mix the dough with your hands until it is blended and malleable. Fold in the flavour of your choice, turning several times and pressing or kneading as you would with bread dough. Roll the dough into two logs approximately 20 cm in length. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and then gently flatten with your hands, to about 3 cm in height. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar, if desired, and then bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
Remove the logs from the oven and allow to cool until you can touch them without burning your hands. Take a very sharp knife (I recommend a sharpened bread knife or other serraded knife) and in one swift movement, slice each log into 12 pieces. You really need to cut from the top to the bottom in one motion, otherwise they will crumble.
Gently place each biscotti piece back on the cookie sheet and bake again for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and enjoy!
Now…here’s the hard part: deciding on the flavour!
Apricot-pistachio: chop 8-10 dried apricots into small pieces and add these with slivered pistachios (available at Persian or Middle Eastern grocers) to the biscotti dough
Blueberry-Almond: Add 1/3 cup dried blueberries and 1/4 whole blanched almonds to the biscotti dough
Fig-Walnut-Pistachio: In the initial mixing phase of the recipe, add 2 tsp fennel seeds with the flour, sugar and butter. Fold into the biscotti dough: 4 finely chopped mission figs, 1/4 cup walnuts, broken into pieces and 2 tbsp slivered pistachios
Sour Cherry and Almond: Use 1 cup of sugar in the biscotti base instead of 3/4 cup. Pit 1/2 cup sour cherries. Fold them into the biscotti dough, along with 1/3 whole blanched almonds. When biscotti are cooled, melt a large lindor white chocolate bar in a double boiler or a metal bowl placed on top of hot water. Take each biscotti piece and dip one end halfway into the melted chocolate. Allow to cool until chocolate is hardened.
Cranberry-Pecan: In the initial mixing phase of the recipe, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the food processor. Fold 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and 1/2 pecan pieces into the biscotti dough.
Lemon-Lavender: Grate 2 tsp lemon rind using a very fine grater. Add to initial phase of recipe instead of vanilla. Also add 1 1/2 tsp dried organic lavender de provence. Optional: fold slivered almonds into the biscotti dough.
Moroccan Fekkas: Soak 1/4 cup golden raisins in warm water until they are plump, and drain. In the initial phase of the recipe, add 1 1/2 anise seeds to the food processor. Replace the vanilla with 2 tsp orange blossom water. Fold in raisins, 1/4 cup of toasted sesame seeds, and 1/4 cup of almonds or walnuts (or a combination of both) to the base dough.