21 December 2006

what's cooking: cranberry pistachio biscotti

Steve made these last Saturday. (I helped! It turns out that shelling pistachios is a decent study break.) I loved having a few straight from the oven, although they don't fully harden until cool. Which, actually, isn't necessarily a bad thing. Biscotti are great with coffee, lattes, steamed milk, hot chocolate, or tea (especially if you take milk), but as a solo flyer, they're not ideal. Biscotti is plural, and comes from the process used to bake these cookies: they're baked twice to give them that hard, crunchy texture.

Although we had a few (pretty much just me, since someone doesn't like biscotti), most of these went to friends and family as a Christmas gift. They're especially good for mailing or handing out over several days, since their double-baked texture gives them a longer shelf life than most homemade cookies.

Comments on the recipe: if you make the loaves as described, you end up with very small cookies. This is fine if you like them that way, but our oven is small and we ended up with larger loaves. As a consequence, we only had 2 dozen cookies rather than 4. I would suggest that you lengthen the cooking time for larger loaves; ours weren't quite as done in the middle as they should have been, but they came through the second bake just fine, except for a slight difference in texture along the top.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti (from The Gourmet Cookbook)
About 4 dozen

1⅓ c dried cranberries (4 oz)
2 ½ c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c sugar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c shelled salted natural pistachios (not dyed red, 5 oz)
1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp water, for egg wash

Soak cranberries in boiling water to cover in a small bowl until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain, then pat dry with paper towels.

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a large baking sheet, knocking off excess flour.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed just until a dough forms. Add cranberries and pistachios and mix at low speed.

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead several times. Halve dough. Using floured hands, form each half into a slightly flattened 13x2-inch log on baking sheet, spacing logs about 3 inches apart. Brush logs with egg wash.

Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes, leaving oven on.

Transfer logs to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices cut side down in one layer on a baking sheet (it’s fine if slices are touching). Bake, turning once, until golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.


The biscotti keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Biscotti logs resting