Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Orange-Almond Biscotti

I had a bit of free time last night so I leafed through the pages of Baking Illustrated in hopes of finding a quick recipe for ingredients that I happened to have on hand. Unfortunately that meant no pies, brownies, or anything that required unsweetened chocolate. Towards the end of the cookie chapter, I came across this biscotti recipe.

Mmm, coffee and a biscotti!

Step #1: Combine dry ingredients and whisk!

Step #2: Combine slightly cooler than room temperature
butter with sugar and cream.

I am lacking the pictures for the steps after the creaming because this recipe requires folding. Folding is a technique that most people find the reasoning behind rather mysterious. I know I did at first, but it's actually critical to the success of quite a few recipes.

Folding is a technique of gently combining the wet and dry ingredients in a way that minimizes gluten formation. What's gluten, besides something some people have developed an intolerance too? Gluten is a protein that's formed when you add water to flour and mix it together.  It's essentially the glue that holds bread  together and allows it to retain its shape.  In recipes for muffins, and now biscotti, folding is used so that gluten doesn't form and give your baked good a tough and chewy texture, which while great for bread is bad for muffins.
Shape the loaves into two logs.  They said to do
13" by 2" but I don't think I came anywhere near
13".  So let's just go with it!
The dough is pretty sticky even with flour hands and I didn't have my baking mat out to tell me if I'd shaped them to be long enough. I decided to just go with it.

The loaves are adequately cooked when they start
to crack on the top.  From here, they're sliced diagonally
and put back into the oven to toast for that perfect
coffee dippability. Yes, that's a made-up word!
Biscotti required little prep, no weird ingredients and are fast and easy. The cookies themselves? Delicious! I will definitely reuse these again next time I have people over for a brunch, or possibly as a dessert. The addition of almonds and orange can also be swapped out for other things like hazelnuts and chocolate chips. The possibilities are endless.