Biscotti and I get along, but I find them confusing (says the girl eying the nearly empty cookie sheet). Technically a cookie, biscotti is baked twice to achieve that dry texture usually reserved only for dunking in coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate, or sweet wine, or so I’ve heard. Although they are almost always sweet, rather than savory, biscotti are the polar opposite of a chewy chocolate chip cookie with a sandy crumb. You have probably seen them stacked high in a glass jar next to the register at your local coffee house and for good reason: these suckers last forever and still manage to taste good. Nay, taste better. I’m not talking about months here, but you can count on about two good weeks of wonderfully dry cookies when properly stored in an air tight container.
Some recipes call for butter, some do not. Shockingly, these mosaic biscotti do not contain any butter and it feels strange. I typically favor a more gluttonous approach to food preparation. However, there are plenty of chocolate chips. And pistachios. And hazelnuts. They have served as the quintessential pre-holidays breakfast of champions for many a day now and I could not be happier.
At the beginning of the year, my only resolution was to learn how to bake and bake often. I had the basics down, but I wanted to stretch my skills (and stomach) a bit farther. When I shared this with a friend she shared her own, similar resolution from the year prior: to learn to like bourbon. She said it was a very good year. With just two months to go, I would say that this year in baking has been far more successful than I could have ever anticipated. Everyone deserves a homemade cookie every now and then. I can make that happen.
adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen
yields about 30 4-inch cookies
1-3/4c unbleached all purpose flour
1/2t baking powder
1/2t kosher salt
2 whole eggs
1 egg, yolk and white separated
1c granulated sugar, plus extra for glaze
1t vanilla extract
1c semisweet chocolate chips (or bar chocolate, chopped)
1c hazelnuts, skinned or unskinned, coarsely chopped*
1c whole, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with nonstick spray or parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and also set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer add the whole eggs, egg yolk and the sugar. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix together. Turn the speed down to medium-low and add the dry ingredients and when mixed completely add the nuts and chocolate.
Flour a working surface and your hands and divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 by 12-inch log (approximately). Place each log onto the prepared baking sheet about 3-inches apart. Beat the egg white until frothy and spread over the top of the dough using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the top of each generously with granulated sugar.
Bake for about 30 minutes**, or until lightly golden brown, firm to the touch, and beginning to crack slightly. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through to ensure even baking. Allow the logs to cool on a baking sheet atop a cooling rack for about 40 minutes until cool to the touch.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees. With a sharp serrated knife slice the biscotti into 1/2-inch slices. Place each slice on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Return them to the oven for an additional 30 minutes until they are toasted, dry and crisp. Cool the biscotti on the sheets completely before storing in an airtight container. Cookies will last for up to 2 weeks.
*A note on chopping the nuts for this recipe: Because my cutting board is small and there are a lot of nuts in the recipe, I chopped about 1/2 cup of nuts at a time. The near perfect round shape of the hazelnuts was particularly challenging. After chopping each batch I moved them to my medium-mesh sieve. Using the sieve I removed the nut “dust” and other tiny pieces so they did not end up in the final product.
**I made slightly larger cookies than the original recipe recommended so my baking times were much longer.