Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti

Biscotti is my favorite cookie. I find it very easy to make, simply whip up everything and the fact that it needs no precision cutting nor kneading makes the effort a cinch. I admit that everytime I go to a cafe I only look to the big jar of biscottis, standing tall next to the cashier or on top of the counter of all the other cookies displayed in the case.

I didn't grow up with soft cookies but crunchy ones, hence biscotti is always my preferred choice. Biscotti dough is also very versatile with endless possibilities of added ingredients like nuts, dried fruits, coffee and chocolate flavored or simply plain. For this X'mas season, the color red and green are the festive ones and I chose cranberry and pistachio.

I adapted this recipe from Food Network library and true enough to its statement, it is very easy to make. The only time consuming part is the shelling of the pistachio and chopping them. Dried cranberries are plenty in the market and I like its sweet tart combination which complements the crunch of the pistachio and the subtle sweetness of the Biscotti itself.

All ingredients must be at room temperature, especially the butter. I soften mine in the microwave for 15 seconds and it slightly melted but didn't affect the end product. I beat the eggs before adding to the butter and sugar mixture as I find this blends all ingredients better. And I let the mixture mixed longer for 5 mins on medium speed to obtain a lighter consistency. Baking powder is the main ingredient that makes the dough airy and for a recipe that yields 24 cookies required a heap 1 & 1/2 teaspoon added to the flour. The dried cranberries and pistachio were first tossed and mixed together in a bowl with 1 tbsp of flour. As the cranberries still retain some moisture from its packaging and tend to stick to each other, adding and tossing them in flour tends to get them to stay separate and ensure a more even distribution of the berries and the nut when they are mixed into the dough batter.

1/3 part of the flour was added to the butter mixture first and then the berries and nuts were slowly added by scattering around the bowl while the mixer is still mixing. This is to ensure that all parts of the dough has a filling of the fruit & nut. The remaining flour is then stirred into the mixture which forms a chunky rough and dry dough. I always eyeball things and I didn't bother to use a ruler to measure the logs that I formed. Afterall, homemade cookies are supposed to look rugged and with Biscotti, I figured that I won't go that wrong!!!

Each recipe will yield 2 logs and both must be placed apart at least 5 inches on the lined baking sheet as they spread during baking. I whipped up 2 batches of the recipe as I always get better and same texture of the baked Biscotti, rather than increasing the ingredients in one batch and a larger amount of this cookie batter will not be easy to work with. Baked for 40 mins till slightly brown and cooled thoroughly before cutting into slices. 1/2 inches slices will be perfect for the gift box and to ensure that they don't crumble during gift wrapping. I didn't exactly bake them twice but left them in the warm oven with the knob turned off. The point is to dry them up completely and this will yield the crisp and crunchiness of the Biscotti. They must be completely cooled before wrapping and I used wax paper to wrap up 4 to 5 slices in one packet and storing them in an air tight jar. This is to ensure that they always stay dry till the time I need to pack them into the cookie tins and if the cookies ever soften before the packing, they just need to be re-baked for a short moment to return their crispness. That is the good thing about Biscotti, they can be resurrected and stay good forever!!!

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