Biscotti – Harder than they look

I have been using the holidays as an excuse to do more than my normal amount of baking.  This year I decided that since money was a bit tight, I would bake everyone’s Christmas presents.  I started with larger batches of strawberry marmalade and salsa as the core of my gift giving and then went from there.  I made Christmas cookies, challah, and granola.  Then there was a request from one of my sisters, M, for biscotti as part of her Christmas present.  I have made biscotti in the past and have had some success with it.  So I went to my trusty pile o’ papers of recipes and hunted for a lemon walnut biscotti that I remembered making in the past.

I had just broken down and bought a microplane from Williams Sonoma (which is wonderful!!! so much easier to zest than with just a regular cheese grater.  I highly recommend it!) and so my lemon zesting was super nice and easy. I mixed all the ingredients together divided the dough up into three balls and then proceeded to smush them down into rectangular pieces to do the first baking.  I put them in the fridge for three hours and then suck them in the oven to bake.  This is where it gets tricky.  Two of the logs, as the recipe refers to them as, baked perfectly, but one didn’t.  It was slightly burnt on the bottom and hard to cut up into pieces.  Oh well, I thought, more for me to snack on with my coffee.

The next day Alex was on a coding spree for his wonderful new language called Nil and I thinking of things that I needed to do to keep myself occupied.  I started counting the biscotti and realized that I didn’t have quite enough to give out.  I started feeling creative. I liked the lemon walnut recipe, what if I were to replace the lemon parts with some chocolate chips, almonds and a bit of almond extract?  Then I would have a lovely chocolate biscotti addition too.  So into the kitchen I went.  By this time Alex was ready for a break so he helped me chop up the almonds and chocolate chips.

It is generally pretty simple to mess with a cooking recipe because there is very little chemistry involved in it.  Not so true with a baking recipe.  So I wanted to make sure that I kept the liquid to dry goods ratio the same and that I didn’t mess with any of the other ingredients too much.  So I took the recipe and subtracted out about 1/4 of cup of  flour to account for the missing lemon juice.  Then added in about 2 teaspoons of almond extract and another 2 teaspoons of vanilla to create  a good background flavor for the chocolate chips and almonds.  Then I split up the batter and smushed them into logs and stuck them into the oven.

50 minutes later out they came.  This time there was one log that was perfect and the other two were too crisp and not what I wanted.  So Alex and I further inspected the logs to see why one had done so well and the others not so much.  It appears that the thicker I made the logs, the better they did.  It also seems that the recipe isn’t really enough to split it up into three logs, so perhaps next time I made this recipe, I will only split it up into two logs.  I think also it would be advised to take out at least another 1/4 cup of flour for the chocolate almond biscotti.  We will see how the family likes them at Christmas.  Let me know if any of you make the recipe with any of the further additions and have more tweaks to it.  Thanks!

One thought on “Biscotti – Harder than they look

  1. We also didn’t refrigerate them before baking. I wonder if that’s an important part – so that part of the first baking is just warming them back up again.

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