Friday, December 10, 2010


While listening to holiday music, Pachabel's Canon in D was included in the play set and I thought of biscotti.  Hmmm.. Italian biscotti and German Baroque composer...somehow in my head they're related.  Anyway, like in most countries, every micro-region has its own version of culinary dishes, and these differences are often driven by the ready availability of ingredients or the cook's preferences. 

This biscotti recipe provides a reliable dough base to invent your own micro-regional version.  Using olive oil instead of butter, it is more rustic (less cholesterol so that you can eat more) and holds up well when dunked into hot coffee or tea. If you prefer softer middles, slice and then bake for a lesser amount of time than specified or don't second bake at all.  Create your own favorites by substituting your add-ins - orange zest and almonds dipped in bittersweet chocolate; rosemary, pecans and lemon zest; cinnamon, walnuts and raisins - the opportunities to design your signature biscotti are endless! 

No mixer needed!

Stir olive oil and sugar together by hand in a large bowl.  Add dry ingredients; mix well, then add nuts and fruit.  Almonds and dried cranberries were used in this kitchen experiment.
Divide dough into 2 equal parts.  Wet hands with tepid water and pick up one of the halves.  Stretch into a log and place on one side of large cookie sheet. The log should be about 2 inches wide and 13 inches long. Wet hands and repeat with the other half.  Wet hands again and smooth out any frays to prevent over browning.

Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 300 degrees F oven. 

Logs will be light brown and have little cracks on top when ready.

With a serrated knife, slicing in one direction, cut logs into 3/4" pieces. Eat the ends.

Lay the slices on their sides.  They should all fit on the large cookie sheet that you are using.  Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees F and bake for 8-10 minutes on each side.

Remove cooke sheet from oven and let biscotti cool on the baking sheet on top of a wire rack. 


1/4 cup light olive oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs, large
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried fruit

Have ready a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner (silpat).  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir olive oil and sugar together; add extracts and eggs, combine well.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and then add to wet mixture, stirring just until mixed, and then toss in nuts and dried fruit.  Combine all together.

Wet hands and scoop one half of dough from bowl.  Gently shape dough into a log (it'll elongate on its own weight).  Place log on one side of cookie sheet and gently shape and even out.  The log should be about 2" wide, 1" high, and 13-14" long.  Wet hands again and repeat with other half of dough.  Both logs should fit on a single cookie sheet.  Smooth out frayed dough with wet fingers.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes until logs look light brown and have small cracks.  When gently pressed on top, the logs should be firm.  Remove from oven and place cookie sheet on a cooling rack.  Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees F.  After 10 minutes, using a serrated knife, slice logs on the diagonal into 3/4" thick slices. 

Place slices cut side down on cookie sheet and bake on each side for 8-10 minutes. Even if you like really dry biscotti, don't leave slices in oven for more than a total of 30 minutes; otherwise, additional dental work may be necessary.

Store airtight; keeps for a couple of weeks.  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen biscotti. 

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