Monday, April 28, 2014

For The Love of Her Brother + Biscotti Recipes

Ethan loves many things including coats, bags and field notes (small, paper journals).I don't know what it is about them that he finds so attractive, but he has a growing collection. When Ellie found Field Notes made with wooden covers, she purchased a set of them. Then she decided to personalize them. I love that she did that for him. (I love how she shows her love for others. It warms my heart.) I love the drawings and quotes that she put on them for him. I am certain that he will love them, too.

She drew pictures of the different environments that Ethan loves.

She added quotes that she thought that would speak to him. Ellie felt unsure about her handwriting. I think it is the best thing about the gift. I reminded her that her handwriting is a part of who she is and so part of her goes with him when he takes the journals with him.

Ellie wanted some biscotti to enjoy with her evening tea. When she was little she thought that it was something so special that it could not be made. I told her that it would be easy to make her a batch. She is a purist who likes her things straight-forward. With that in mind I picked through a bunch of recipes for biscotti on Foodgawker and came up with a traditional Italian biscotti which by its nature is extra hard and crispy. (American biscotti is a bit softer and fall apart once dipped. This is due to the addition of butter in the recipes.) She likes the recipe that I made, though she would prefer it to be much sweeter next time.

Classic Tuscan Biscotti
via: Nick Malgieri

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (Ellie would like it much sweeter, so I will increase the sugar next)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) whole unblanched almonds (I used sliced almonds)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans covered with parchment or foil

Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon; stir well to mix. Stir in the almonds.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the vanilla then use a rubber spatula to stir into the dry ingredients. Continue to stir until a stiff dough forms.Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Roll each half under the palms of your hands into a cylinder a little shorter than your baking sheet.

Place the logs of dough on the baking sheet, making sure they are neither too close to each other nor to the sides of the pan. Press down gently with the palm of your hand to flatten the logs.Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the logs are well risen and have also spread to about double their original size. The logs are done when pressed with fingertip they feel firm.

Place the pan on a rack and let the logs cool completely.Reset the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds but leave the temperature at 350 degrees. Place one of the cooled logs on a cutting board and cut it diagonally into slices 1/3-inch thick. Arrange the biscotti on the prepared pans, cut side down. It isn’t necessary to leave space between them. Bake the biscotti for about 15 or 20 minutes or until they are well toasted.

Cool the pan on a rack.Store the cooled biscotti between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Makes about 60 biscotti

I would like to try an American biscotti sometime.

American-Style Vanilla Biscotti
via: King Arthur Flour
You might enjoy their blog entry about the recipe that includes photos.

6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
coarse white sparkling sugar, for sprinkling on top, optional

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.

2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract (if you're using it), and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

3) Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

4) Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Divide it in half, and shape it into two 9 1/2" x 2" logs, about 3/4" tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here. Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired, pressing it in gently.

5) Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.

6) Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

7) Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2" to 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal, for fewer, longer biscotti. As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.

8) Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.

9) Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they'll stay good for weeks.

Yield: 30 to 40 biscotti, depending on size.

*** Tips from our bakers:
Variations: Add up to 2 cups nuts, dried fruit (dried, not fresh), or chips to the dough, along with the flour. Adjust the spice to suit the add-in, if desired; e.g., add 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 cup chopped dried apple and 1 cup diced pecans. Or substitute hazelnut, butter-rum, or your favorite flavor for the vanilla. A classic Italian anise biscotti is made with 1/2 teaspoon anise extract (or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon anise oil, to taste), and 1 tablespoon fennel seeds.

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