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Classic Cookies: Biscotti

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It's a pretty good bet that everyone has crunched their teeth into a cookie called "biscotti." Whether it be one of those horrendous things from Starbucks, a chemical laden one from the market or a tasty morsel from a bakery. But have you really ever eaten one?

The cookie Americans know as a biscotti is really not a biscotti at all! First, the name. Biscotti means, albeit not literally, "twice baked." In all actuality, it is baked three times. Secondly, real biscotti -- as served in some of the finest eateries throughout Italy, is not an overtly sweet cookie. It is a slightly sweet biscuit. To appreciate the full taste of biscotti, it is to be "dunked" into espresso or a sweet liqueur - so the flavor of the biscotti should accentuate what it is dunked into (which is why the most popular flavor of biscotti is anise).

This particular biscotti recipe is an adaption of one I tried and flipped over in Turin, Italy. Instead of the usual ingredients, the pastry chef utilized pine nuts and pure almond extract (both of which accentuated the espresso and liqueur I was dunking them in). You will also notice the small amount of sugar in the recipe. This is also a much more dense biscotti than the usual American version but then again, this is more along the lines of the traditional biscotti.

I opted to use seeds, sesame and poppy, in this adaptation to give the biscotti a more humble taste and a more visual presence, as we usually serve the biscotti with fruit sorbets.

Ingredients needed to make Sesame/Poppy Seed Biscotti (serving amount depends on size):

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbs. poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. almond extract

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and both seeds. Set the bowl aside
  2. Into the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale. Beat in the eggs and almond extract until will combined.
  3. Into the mixer beat the dry ingredients to form a dough.
  4. Remove the dough and chill 1 hour.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
  6. Form the dough into two logs and place on the prepared sheet.
  7. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and slice, diagonally, the logs into cookies. Turn the cookies onto their side, return to the oven and bake 7 minutes. Turn the cookies over to their other side and bake an additional 7 minutes.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on a rack.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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