I came up with Project Biscotti as a means of sending good will to some colleagues, as well as getting in some Christmas baking without having the results hanging around to tempt me. I settled on biscotti because they travel well, won't go stale for a long time, and hey everyone loves things to dip into coffee! I made a plan to bake three kinds of biscotti and send little presents of them to folks I work with on a couple of projects. The tidy tins of yummy treats are all lined up, ready to head to locations all over the province.
Biscotti are, by nature, crunchy. The recipe I based mine on was low-fat, meaning no butter and using only egg whites. This made an uber-crunchy biscotti...I ended up using whole eggs because I dislike wasting egg yolks, and the results were actually better. Even coated in chocolate, the cookies are just 80 calories each, so I won't begrudge them a few egg yolks!
I went a little crazy and made my own candied orange peel for them, so I've included that recipe at the bottom. I had a lot of fun with Project Biscotti....and aren't they cute?
Basic Biscotti recipe
modified from The New Best Recipe:
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients until light yellow. Pour into dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. The dough should be very wet and sticky.
For Candied Orange Peel, Almond, and Dark Chocolate Biscotti:
Fold in 1/3C chopped candied orange peel and 1/3C roasted almonds.
For Cranberry, Pistachio, and Dark Chocolate Biscotti:
Fold in 1/3C craisins and 1/3C pistachios
For Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti:
Use 1/4C less flour and replace with 1/4C cocoa. Fold in 1/3C toasted almonds.
Form each batch into two logs, about 3" wide, 13" long, and 1" tall. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, lower oven temperature to 325F and allow the logs to cool for about 5 minutes. Cut into 3/4" slices and lay flat on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once (or if you want to avoid turning them, bake the slices standing up.)
Cool biscotti on baking sheet. Meanwhile, heat some bittersweet chocolate in a small pot (I just put mine on the element that vents the oven and it gently warms the chocolate as the oven cools, no need for fancy double-boiler here!). I use 3 baking squares per batch, being moderately stingy with the chocolate coating....not as thin as a summer coat but not a thick winter one either, I guess more like a light fall coat. Just dip the tops into the chocolate and push the excess off with a spoon.
And whatever you do, don't fall asleep on the couch watching CSI while you are doing the second baking. That makes for VERY crunchy biscotti. Not that I know about that.
Yield: 36 biscotti per batch
Nutritional info: Each cookie has 81 calories, 3g fat, 2g protein, 13g carbs, 1g fibre, 16 mg sodium.
Candied Orange Peel:
This is a bit laborious but totally worth it.
2 thick-skinned oranges (like valencias)
Score orange skin into six or eight segments and peel off orange. Reserve orange flesh for other use. Place peels in a pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat and drain. Repeat this process two more times.
Cut orange peel segments into thin strips. Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat, and let simmer for 8 minutes, or until it starts turning light brown. Add in orange peels and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the sugar has absorbed into the orange peels. Remove from heat and place orange peels individually on a rack or plate to dry. Coat each one with sugar if you like, but I like them plain. If you leave them in a big heap, you will have one SUPER-ORANGE PEEL. Not as pretty, but just as tasty.