Sunday, July 3, 2011

By request

I love to take requests.  When someone tells me to just make “whatever I want”, I often find it somewhat overwhelming.  There are so many recipes out there I want to try, techniques to learn, the options are endless!  When someone requests something, it’s much easier for me to settle on a recipe (or two).

Friend A was coming to town, and had recently professed her new-found love for biscotti (which is weird, because she doesn’t really drink coffee, and it’s not really hot beverage season anymore where she lives).  She wanted me to make her some biscotti, and since I enjoy doing it, I was happy to oblige.  The only parameters that she gave me were that she wanted something with pistachio.  Well, I was going through my Google reader (seriously an awesome thing, if you follow lots of blogs like I do), and I found a couple of recipes I wanted to try.  Since biscotti are pretty hearty cookies, I knew if I made a lot of them, it would be okay because they wouldn’t really go bad.  And besides, the more I made, the more I could eat before I had to hand them over. 

In the end, I settle on two kinds:  Spiced Mocha, and Honey Pistachio Biscotti.  The spiced mocha were for my own curiosity, and the honey pistachio were because that’s what A wanted.  Both were good, but I definitely preferred the mocha ones.  The pistachio ones are not very sweet, which is okay, but I could taste the olive oil a little too much for my own liking.  If I make those again, I think I will add more lemon zest, and maybe use a different kind of oil. 

The only major changes I made were to the mocha biscotti.  I used regular all purpose flour, since I didn’t have whole wheat pastry flour (but I do have regular whole wheat flour).  Also, I didn’t have hazelnuts, so I used slivered almonds instead because it’s what I had on hand.  Come to think of it, I would bet that the pistachio biscotti would be pretty darn tasty if you made them with pine nuts.  Maybe I’ll try that some time.

Spiced Mocha Hazelnut (Almond) Biscotti
Makes about 30 small cookies
Source: Food Doodles

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour)
2 ½ tablespoons cocoa
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 small eggs or one extra large egg
1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon instant coffee (I used instant espresso, because that’s what I had)
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts or almonds

1.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2.   Toast the nuts for 10-15 minutes on a baking sheet in the oven. Remove from the oven and let cool while mixing the other ingredients.
3.     In a medium sized bowl, mix the hot water and coffee until the coffee granules are dissolved. Set aside. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the eggs and sugar to the coffee mixture and mix well, then add the dry ingredients. Mix until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated, then add the nuts and mix until fully incorporated.
4.     Scoop dough out onto a parchment lined and lightly greased baking sheet. The dough should be fairly sticky to the touch so wet your fingers and then shape the dough into one 15” log and press down to about 1” tall or slightly less as it will be larger once baked.  Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the log is firm. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
5.     On a diagonal, slice the log after cooling for just a couple of minutes into ½” slices and place slices on their sides on the baking sheet.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes until completely dry.  Cool cookies completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Honey Pistachio Biscotti
Source: Liv Life

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups whole wheat four
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.     In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose and whole wheat flours, the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, honey, eggs, oil, zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract until well combined. In batches add the dry ingredients until the mixture forms a dough. Stir in pistachios.
3.     Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead several times. Shape into a log about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. With a serrated knife, cut ½ inch diagonal slices. Arrange on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake the biscotti until golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

And, since you got a bonus recipe this round, I will give you a bonus story to go with it!  I bought the pistachios in a giant bag from Costco (I was with Friend A at the time).  When we were all done in the store, she wanted a hotdog.  I wasn’t hungry, but I did want to eat some of the giant bag of pistachios.  We sat at a table, I opened the bag, and then somehow (I think it was a flying monkey), the bag was knocked off the table, and landed, upside down, on the ground.  Three quarters of the bag ended up on the ground.  Feeling thoroughly embarrassed (A’s laughter didn’t really help), I found an employee, and told him that I spilled the nuts and maybe he wanted to send someone out to clean them up.  Unexpectedly, I ended up getting a whole new bag of pistachios, free of charge!!!  Of course, I did take some ribbing from the employees while they cleaned up my huge mess, but as far as I was concerned, it was worth it, and I deserved it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me; otherwise I would have taken a picture of the carnage.

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