Baking with Julia – Chocolate Cranberry Almond Biscotti

I was most definitely going to put this off til next week. I had planned on doing it today originally but I didn’t take into account this crazy-ass heat wave we’ve been having, nor did I realize that our air conditioner was on the verge of a breakdown. Thankfully the sweetest AC man came over this morning and fixed it right quick so we are no longer boiling in our own juices up in here. Last night was not a good night people. I am not someone who likes to be warm. I like to be cold. That is why I live on the frozen tundra or whatever it is those sports fans call WI. So I was thinking that the smart thing would be not to turn on the oven and semi-heat my recently cooled home. But as I was sitting here on the couch painting my toenails and watching the Tivo’d episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon I just couldn’t help myself. I had to do it. So I did.

Obviously I made some substitutions in this one. I am not a big nut fan, but I can handle almonds so I baked some sliced ones up in the oven for a few minutes until they got nice and brown and toasty. Here are the stars of my rogue biscotti making : dried cranberries, amaretto, sliced almonds, almond extract and Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. That last one has been my bff lately as I also used it to make the Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World earlier this week. Yummy!

I was feeling pretty confident about these since it’s not my first jog round the biscotti track but I believe I’ve mentioned before that when I’m feeling most confident is usually when I fuck something up. This time I forgot to add the baking soda. Shockingly, this is not the first time I’ve done this. I realized it after the first bake was halfway over so I couldn’t really do much but hope. And guess what! I don’t think it was that big of a deal in this recipe. I don’t know what they’ll be like in the misty future but in the right now time, they’re pretty damn delicious! I especially dig the chocolately goodness. I dipped some in milk because I couldn’t stand the idea of drinking something warm right now. I’ll give coffee a try in the morning. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna taste amazing. If you want to give the original a try you can find the recipe at one of our host blogs: Homemade & Wholesome or Baking and Boys.

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Simple Almond Biscotti

So the next recipe in TWD is a bit more complicated than White Loaves. It calls for 4 biscotti (homemade or store-bought) and since I couldn’t find any at the store, I had to make my own. I want to be upfront and admit that biscotti has never appealed to me. I’ve always thought, what is the point of baking something so hard that you have to dip it in something to make it palatable? It seems stupid. But they did smell pretty awesome…

I found this recipe after a few seconds on google and changed it very slightly. It was Candy’s first canter ’round the paddock since the incident and she performed admirably! I was a bit worried she had gone lame, so it was pretty exciting. Okay I promise that concludes my horse metaphors.

The main thing I changed was using almond extract instead of anise and this was only because I don’t have anise extract and never intend to buy it. It’s not really my most favorite flavor. I haven’t really gone into many of my dislikes on this blog but they are many and diverse and black licorice is one of them. Nuts also live in the “dislike” folder, but almonds are the lesser of all those evils so I thought it was an apt replacement.

The dough for these cookies is VERY wet and hard to deal with so I made one big loaf instead of the two the recipe called for and I think the use of my Silpat liner was pretty necessary. I tried using parchment paper first but it was just too sticky and I couldn’t shape the loaf without the piece of parchment moving all over the place. So I scooped it up, plopped it on the Silpat and got down to business. If you don’t have a Silpat, get one. They are amazing and fantastic and outstanding and any other complimentary adjective you can think of. In fact, I was thinking of buying a few more even though they’re kind of expensive. That’s how useful they are. But back to brass tacks, after I made the dough into a large loaf shape and baked it until it was golden brown, I took it out and let it cool for about 15 minutes or so. Then I transferred it to a cutting board and used a very sharp knife to cut it into about 24 half-inch slices. Those went back onto the Silpat for another round in the oven (about 7 minutes on each side) to make them nice and super dry and crispy. Doesn’t that sound delightful? No? You don’t like super dry, hard cookies? Well neither do I usually. But I took some to work today and ate one with a cup of British Breakfast and I have to tell you, it was pretty delicious. So I may be turning a corner in life or something. I might like biscotti.

Simple Almond Biscotti

(slightly adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Get out your biggest baking sheet and line it with a Silpat.
 
In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and almond extract until well blended. Combine the flour and baking powder, stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough.  Take the dough out of the bowl, form it into a roll on the Silpat and press it down to 1/2 inch thickness.
 
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. When the loaf is cool enough to handle (about 15-20 minutes) put it on cutting board and cut it into about 24 half-inch slices. Place the slices back onto the baking sheet and bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side. They should be nicely browned and crispy-looking.
 
Feel free to eat them dry (weirdo) but they taste really nice when dipped in coffee or black tea. Hopefully, they’ll work really nicely in the chocolate tart I’m going to make tomorrow!