Friday, March 11, 2011

Heart a Day - Day 31

Getting ready to make biscotti.  The recipe I use has anise extract in it, it's such a soothing aroma.  I use an absinthe sugar scrub from Wicked Soaps that is amazing, the smell of licorice, fennel, anise, I think it's one of those olfactory memories for me.  When I was little, my mom had a good friend who always had those little Italian cookies in the red tins, wrapped in thin wax paper.  I remember my first taste, amazed by the smell, the sharp but delicious bite of cookie stayed in my memory forever.  She also introduced me to gefilte fish, which I still love, much to the dismay of whoever is around me while I'm eating it.

But I digress, biscotti, I know it means twice baked, but I tend to bake it once, or keep it in for only 5 minutes the second time around, I like it to have a softer texture, a little gentler on the teeth.   I'm not planning on taking it on an ocean voyage, so it doesn't have to serve as hard tack.

My Biscotti Recipe (adapted from The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane)

2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 beaten eggs
1 cup sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (find the good stuff at a spice shop or online, it's so worth it)
1 1/2 tablespoons anise extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a KitchenAid or electric mixer, beat together the beaten eggs, sugar, melted butter and the vanilla and anise extracts.  Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir on slow until smooth and firm - don't overmix! 

Remove dough from mixer onto a floured surface - it will seem too wet and sticky, make sure to flour your hands too.  Gently knead the dough, if the dough seems too soft still, slowly add flour.  Knead in the nuts and chocolate chips. 

Cut the dough into 3 parts.  Place it on an ungreased cookie sheet and form dough into 3 log shapes, flatten slightly.  Bake for about 25 minutes, keep checking them to prevent burning.  Take them out of the oven when slightly brown. 

Cool the logs on a rack for 5 minutes, then while still warm, slice them into 1/2 inch slices using a serrated knife. 

If you like crunchy biscotti, return these slices to the 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  I usually only put them back in for about 5 minutes. 


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