Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Biscotti to satisfy every taste

There is not doubt that biscotti and the tradition of dipping them into a fragrant cup of coffee have gained the heart of Americans. You may not find a chocolate chip cookie or an apple pie in every coffee shop, but you can probably have at least one version of this Italian crunchy cookie to dip it into your morning coffee.

The word biscotti means twice-baked because the dough is formed into logs, baked once, cut it in wedges and baked for a second time to dry them out, make them crispy and keep them longer. They can last for months in an airtight container! According to several told stories, Christopher Columbus took tons of biscotti to feed his crew on his long discovery trips.

Although these Italian crunchy cookies are classically 3 inches long and flavored with hazelnuts, almonds or anise seeds, I have seen biscotti up to 7 inches long and flavored with almost everything you can imagine: currant, poppy seeds, dried sour cherries, apricots, chocolate, cornmeal, etc. There is a version of biscotti for every taste and if you cannot find the one you like you can create it yourself. Just add ½ cup of any nut or dried fruit you like to my recipe.

Lemon Rosemary Biscotti
The rosemary and lemon zest gives a refreshing flavor to this version of biscotti. I like to serve them with dessert liquor like Limoncello or Vin Santo. They are also great served with a mild creamy cheese like Brie, Cremosina or Triple Cream.
- 2 cup flour; unbleached, all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Olivina certified piccoline extra vergin olive oil)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest; freshly grated
- 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped

Sugar for decorating

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpad. Preheat the oven to 350F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the flour, the sugar, the baking soda and the salt. In a small bowl whisk together the whole egg, the oil, the vanilla, the rosemary and the zest; add the eggs mixture to the flour mixture, beating everything together until combined.

Divide the dough in half. Form each piece of dough into a log (approximately 2 inches wide and 12 inches long).

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Brush the logs with water and sprinkle them with sugar. Bake the logs in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Let them cool for 10 minutes.

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On a cutting board, cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices.

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Arrange the biscotti, cut sides down, on the baking sheet and bake them, for 10 minutes on each side.

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Transfer the biscotti to racks to cool and store them in airtight containers.