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Baking biscotti: Dipping treat for warm winter drinks

Jan 7th, 2012 | Category: Cooking

by Sylvia Watkins

A steaming drink with a dipping treat during the winter is for some the seasonal equivalent of a ripe heirloom tomato in late summer (especially if the biscotti is served following a hearty winter stew with fresh baked bread). It is a simple, yet grand winter dessert, fit for a fireside chat, craft project, book reading or other activity we enjoy during the season’s down time.

For years, I had purchased biscotti from the store, unaware of what it truly consisted of, who made it, how long it sat there packaged, and where it came from. It tasted good, and even better when dipped in coffee, hot chocolate or tea.
A few winter’s ago, I decided to make my own. The container of my store-bought was empty. This finding, coupled with the fact I was beginning to take a serious interest in baking, led me to begin my search for a biscotti recipe. I can do this, I thought.

It turns out I wasn’t so good at it, at first. The first two times I attempted a recipe, I flat out burned them. I think. They were dark in color, and did not looked burned. But they sure tasted burned. I’m still not sure what happened (I blame the oven). Anyhow, the third attempt worked like a charm.

From the initial mixture of ingredients to the forming of the dough and putting it in the oven, I could see this biscotti session was going to be successful. After baking, I cut the “loaf” as specified, baking on both sides as needed. I saw that it was forming actual biscotti – they looked real and edible!

The recipe was for chocolate-almond biscotti, and except for a few changes to fit my taste, I have been using this recipe ever since. This recipe creates a sweet (but not too sweet), crunchy treat that when soaked briefly in a hot beverage is melt in your mouth goodness.

This is a good basic recipe to use, but change it to meet your taste buds. For example, I prefer to use slivered almonds in this recipe, but use chopped, or none at all, if you prefer.

I bake biscotti often, and just a couple weeks ago many went out as holiday gifts. For some friends, I dipped the biscotti in chocolate to create a dense coating dusted with coconut, others with brown sugar, and some with colored sprinkles to make the kids on the receiving end happy.

This recipe makes a fair number of pieces depending on thickness. When done, you can freeze these for easy storage (as I do), or keep them in an airtight container for up to a week.

Chocolate-Almond Biscotti

2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 to 1 cup almonds, slivered
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and chocolate together and set aside. (You can use a glass container and place inside a pot of hot water to melt ingredients.) Beat the eggs and sugar, adding in the vanilla and chocolate-butter mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients, and then combine with the wet mixture. (At this stage, add additional flour if the dough is too sticky.)
On a slightly floured surface, divide the dough in half. Make each half into the shape of a log (think Christmas Yule log shape), at about 3 inches by 9 inches. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. The top of the logs should feel somewhat firm and set when done.
Place the logs to cool, and reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Once fairly cool (cool for as long as you can), slice the logs to form half-inch thick slices. Place the slices back on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Then turn the pieces over and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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