With the holidays close at our heels, I am sure that most of you have been busy shopping for gifts and planning goodies to make at home. This is probably the only time during the year that I want to bake. And baking not as in bread or pasta or casseroles, but cookies and cakes. I am not a baker, most of my cooking is andaza style guesswork, a lil of this and pinch of that until I get it right. I bring out the measuring spoons only when I know I am going to blog about the dish. Even when I am cooking from a recipe, I adapt it to my taste, taking just the basic essence from the original. But as the saying goes, if cooking is an art, baking is a science. Measurements are key to the outcome, and just like cooking you start off with very humble ingredients and turn them into sinfully delicious goodies.
I love a biscuit alongside my morning coffee or evening tea. Its usually the biscuits I grab from the Indian store - marie, parle G, Good Day, 50-50. They are like little sponges soaking in the coffee/tea and become a soft delicious mush. May be the only time where mush could be good :D The cookies we get here just don't do it for me. They are more like a after dinner treat, too sweet, and definitely not an accompaniment to my cup of coffee. Biscotti, on the other hand were made dunk. They drink up the flavors and become even more delicious. Going with the festive spirit I made these cranberry-pistachio biscotti with a good dose of citrus zest in them.
- 6 Tbsp - unsalted Butter, at room temp
- 3/4 cup - Sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp - Orange zest
- 1/2 tsp - Lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp - Vanilla essence
- 2 large organic Eggs, at room temp
- 2 cups - All purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp - Baking powder
- 1/4 tsp - Salt
- 3/4 cup - Pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup - Cranberries, driedMethod:
- Add a tablespoon of hot water over the cranberries to plump them up a bit and allow to rest for 30mins. Drain well before adding to the flour-butter mix.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl or a sheet of parchment.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together for 3-4 mins (if using hand blender) until the butter is fluffy and looks almost white. Using a rubber spatula scrape the edges, add the citrus zests, vanilla essence and blend for another minute. Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and add them one at a time, blending it into the butter-sugar mixture.
- Add the flour in two batches and blend just until incorporated. Sprinkle in the nuts and berries and mix them in using a spatula.
- Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log, about 8" long and 4" wide. Bake until the exterior is light golden brown, approx 40mins and cool for 30mins.
- Using a serrated knife slice 1/2" thick slices on a diagonal and arrange on the baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for an additional 15-20mins until light golden brown. I don't like them super crunchy, so I bring them out of the oven when they are ever so slightly soft to the touch.
- Cool on a rack and store in airtight containers for a week or refrigerate for a couple more.Note: Treat this recipe like a rough guideline when it comes to the dry fruits you can use. Swap them out for any other nuts or berries you might like - walnuts, pecans, almonds, cherries, apricots even candied ginger.- Add 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of ground spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom or just use some of your fav chai masala to spice them up a bit.- For a pumpkin spice variation, add 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree to the butter-sugar mixture and add an additional 1/2 cup of flour. Toasted walnuts and pecans will make a good combo here. You could also replace 1/4 cup sugar with brown sugar.
These were absolutely delicious! I love citrus in baked goods, it makes them feel really light and the smell is fabulous. The chewy cranberries though, are my most favorite part of the biscotti. By plumping them up with a little warm water you ensure that they don't dry out during the double-baking process. So you get these chewy, tart bites between all the crunch going on around them. They are perfect to dunk into your cuppa joe, but this being the festive season I have to tell you that they pair really well with wine and mulled/spiced wine. We found this fabulous non-alcoholic Swedish spiced wine in Ikea that we've been addicted to. Warm it for a few seconds in the microwave and serve with your fresh baked biscotti, I promise you'll be in food heaven :)