Tuesday, October 14, 2008

{TWD} Rustic Almond Biscotti, plain and fancy

{This tiny mille fleur cup and plate were owned by my "maiden" Aunt Mid (Mildred). My cousin recently mailed them to me along with some lovely linens that were my grandmother's}
Finally I get to write a short-and-sweet post for Tuesdays With Dorie! Making the Lenox Almond Biscotti (chosen this week by Gretchen of Canela & Comino) was a straightforward and uneventful experience. No stovetop molten sugar was involved, thankfully!

I often bake the TWD challenges very early, usually before the helpful P&Q is posted. Since I was out of town last week, I baked them Sunday afternoon, and had the benefit of all th
e wonderful feedback and suggestions. Based on what I read, I refrigerated the dough so that the logs would not spread quite so much as they baked.

I knew that the biscotti would be a bit grainy from the cornmeal, so I decided to emphasize that and make mine rustic. I used ground almonds,
part whole wheat flour, and a bit of wheat germ.

cook's notes

I followed Dorie's recipe with the following minor adjustments:
- Used half AP flour and half King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
- Reduced the cornmeal to 1/4 cup
- Omitted the sliced almonds and used 3/4 c. ground almonds (with a food processor, it's really really easy to make almond meal)
- Threw in a palm-full of wheat germ
- Added 1 tsp grapefruit zest with the wet ingredients
- Used 1/2 cup Eggbeaters instead of 2 eggs

Further notes:
- I stirred chopped sour cherries into half of the dough, leaving the other half plain.
- The dough was very sticky, but I don't know how much my alterations changed the texture.
- I formed skinny logs approximately 14" long
- I chilled logs for 1/2 hour on their baking sheet before popping them into the oven.
- My oven was set at 335 degrees on "convect bake"
- The biscotti were springy in about 18 minutes
- Once they cooled and were cut (3/4"wide), there were 29 biscotti. They were nicely domed, around 3 to 4 inches long
- The second bake was at 325 degrees, again convect, for another 18-ish minutes.
- I dipped the ends of a few of each flavor into melted Callebaut bittersweet chocolate. In the end there were 4 flavor variations (plain, plain with chocolate, cherry, cherry with chocolate).

The Verdict:
These were lovely biscotti. My husband gave the recipe a "10". His preference was the plain ones - although he did like the cherry. He likes basic flavors, well executed (vanilla ice cream is his favorite).

I'm not the world's biggest biscotti fan, but I did enjoy these, especially the cherry ones. They had a definite sandy texture from the cornmeal, ground almonds, whole wheat flour and wheat germ. And even so, these biscotti retained a certain delicacy of flavor. Their AQ (almond quotient) was very high- from the 1.5 tsp of almond extract and the 3/4 cup of ground almonds - and it was very good. I think the grapefruit zest added a freshness. The smell alone was worth the trouble of making these (not so troublesome, actually)!

The chocolate-dipped ones were fine but I preferred them naked. The biscotti would also have looked pretty with some sliced almonds on the tops. They made a good accompaniment to a cup of tea - or coffee. I like them dry, along side the tea, rather than dunked. They are pretty porous and dissolved pretty fast when dunked.

I plan to bring them to book group on Thursday.

You can find the biscotti recipe on pages 141-143 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours or on Gretchen's post.

Next week's TWD challenge = Pumpkin Muffins, page 13. I'm psyched; I love, love, love pumpkin baked goods.

58 comments:

Matt said...

I took your suggestion of chilling the logs for thirty minutes to control the spreading and it definitely helped! I like the idea of dipping them into chocolate.

By the way, I like all of the different china pieces you use in your posts!

Cathy said...

These look perfect, Nancy! For some reason I didn't get to the P&Q this week, and I wish had -- my dough would have benefitted from a little chilling. They spread so much that a few of them wanted to break apart in the middle once they were baked. I love how you emphasized "rustic" with these. Your modifications all sound wonderful. I actually followed the recipe verbatim, but will tinker with it a bit next time around (even though I did love the original recipe). You KNOW I have some precious spices to use up! Of course, these days cardamom may retain its value better than other investments, so maybe I should keep it around for a while.

I almost made the World Peace cookies to bring on our family trip last weekend. But I didn't have sea salt, and since salt is clearly an important part of the recipe, I didn't want to callously substitute regular salt. Any thoughts on that, as a World Peace Cookie expert? Is salt swapping even an option here?

n.o.e said...

You made the right call on the salt/cookie question, Cathy. Not just any run-of-the-mill sea salt will suffice either; you will need fleur de sel, the first fruits of some French patch of brine. And it really does make a difference.

I agree: if I hold onto my cardamom stash and my two jars of saffron, I may be able to supplement the dwindling 401k.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

look at all those lovely cookies! the cherry ones sound delicious, and i think most things benefit from a sprinkle of wheat germ!

The Mortensens said...

Wow, your Biscotti looks wonderful. Next time I'll take your advice and refrigerate the dough. Mine looked nothing like that!

natalia said...

Ciao ! As always I learn a lot from your notes ! I should have chilled the dough ! I should have at least processed a bit the nuts (hazelnuts in my case) ! And I could have dipped them in chocolate (at least for the wedding !) But I liked the biscotti so next time ....

Lori said...

after mine spread, i decided to chill the dough next time - it seems it worked for you! the rustic emphasis was a great great idea, even as they retain their delicate flavor. i really liked these too!

Cristine said...

Looks wonderful!!! I, too, often make my TWD before the P&Q is up. Glad you were able to benefit from it this week!

Prudy said...

I love all your variations. I'll take a cherry, chocolate dipped. I also love that you added ground almonds and wheat germ to heighten the rustic texture. Great work and they already scored a 10 with your husband!

Lady Baker said...

I'm going to jot down your alterations for the next time I bake these; your ideas are super!

I was boring and did it 'by the book' (I'm such a goober that way), but next time I think I'll split up the batch as you did and play around with some add-ins!

Yours look great--higher and more 'dome'-like than mine came out!

(Love the first photo--I have some antique cups like that too from my grandmother--I love them! So feminine!)

Mary Ann said...

Your biscotti look perfect! The dough was super sticky. I didn't even think about refrigerating it. I love your flavors and I think I will make these again with some of your "rustic" additions. Great job!

Carla said...

The log is very sticky regardless of your changes (Dorie mentioned it and mine was also sticky). I love the addition of grapefruit zest and cherries.

Marie said...

Your biscotti are gorgeous!!! They sound pretty delicious too with all your changes and additions. Much nicer than my crumbs!!

Teanna said...

The next time I make these, I will chill the dough as well! Yours have such a beautiful shape! I did the chocolate dipping as well and I absolutely loved it!

CB said...

I have a feeling that I'd probably prefer the cherry+chocolate variation you made. That sounds awesome! Great job!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Audrey said...

I love your rustic additions...weren't these good? I did notice, by the way, that the almond flavor (from the extract) tends to dissipate...it was almost overpowering when they were first baked and almost undetectable today. I love your teacups, too.

James said...

Looks fantastic, Nancy. I'm running behind again (friend's birthday tomorrow, prepped today) ... so, my TWD will be WWD this week.

I'm going to steal ... use some of your ideas. The chilling aspect, smart!

Maria said...

I will take one of each. Plain or fancy they look fantastic!

SiHaN said...

I'm tempted more than ever to try out this recipe now. argh.. the chocolate dipped ones look great. BUt i think i'll stick with the naked ones..

Karen said...

What fun combinations! I will have to chill mine the next time!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Ahhhh, these look wonderful! I love your cooks notes (as always!)the dinnerware is very special.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I love your different versions and the changes you made to make them rustic. great job and thanks for participating!

Engineer Baker said...

They look wonderful, and all four variations sound delicious. Great job!

Bridgett said...

The teacup is so pretty and it looks just like one I received from a great-aunt for a wedding gift almost 15 years ago. I adore family heirlooms. Your cherry biscotti looks very tempting right now and would go perfectly with my morning tea.

pinkstripes said...

Your biscotti look great! It did not cross my mind to use almond meal or wheat germ (both of which I have in my refrig). I'm such a by-the-book baker. I admire your creativity.

Flourchild said...

Your last picture is the best! I love your new china cups..so pretty. I think rustic is the perfect title for these biscottis...I thought mine looked messy and crazy!

Natashya said...

I love your dishes, so beautiful and delicate looking.
Great job on the biscotti. I rarely read the p&q, I just forget. Yours all look so perfect!

spike. said...

Sour cherry sounds good

kim said...

cherry sounds like a great addition, yum! chilling was obviously the way to go, yours look fabulous -- and they DO look like a marching band, the way you've arranged them :)

AmyRuth said...

Just read your post and I loved the thing of love that your family shared with you and you shared with us. I'll be back later just to read your comments. Wow...there's a bunch.

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed your usual variations. You are so good at that. I loved the biscotti and I'm glad you were able to find one that you liked out of all the variations.
AmyRuth

Pamela said...

I love the teacup. It's so nice to have a little bit of the people we love. I'm sure your book group will enjoy the biscotti. They look fabulous.

chocolatechic said...

I love the fact that you were sent that lovely cup and linens. Those things are so precious.

Melissa said...

The ones dipped in chocolate are gorgeous! Good idea to refrigerate, I should have done that. Great job!

By the way, I just noticed your conversation with Cathy about the World Peace cookies. I made them a few weeks ago with a generic sea salt and they were good, but not amazing like I had expected. Maybe I should have used the fleur de sel.

Peggy said...

I did not chill my dough and probably should have. And dipping them into chocolate would be great of course. I ate most of mine just plain. I ate six of them last night while watching tv. Yours are always perfect.

Kimberly Johnson said...

Your biscotti look great! I also used the term "rustic" when I wrote about these!

Candy said...

I should have chilled my dough. Yours variations look wonderful!

Marthe said...

Your biscotti look amazing! Unfortunately chilling the logs didn't stop the spreading for me... :( But I loved their taste!

Cathy said...

Nancy -- I wanted to jump back to thank you for the World Peace Cookie/salt guidance. I will officially back faaaaaar away from the Morton's on this one. I actually looked in Publix last week for the fancy salt, but didn't see any, so hopefully Whole Foods will come through with the fine French fleur de sel!

n.o.e said...

Melissa and Cathy -
I don't want to be leading anyone astray here. We've made the cookies several times, but always with the Fleur de Sel. And I LOVE the cookies. But, I cannot guarantee that the Fleur de Sel is that much better than ordinary sea salt. The grains are very large, however, so if you do use regular sea salt, I'd use the coarse grain. And that is one major reason why Morton's probably won't cut it. I'm pretty sure that we bought ours at Whole Foods (has an aqua label) but if you have a World Market Cost Plus you might be able to find it there.
Nancy

Kait said...

That tea cup set is just gorgeous. And I'm glad you liked the recipe, and am also quite relieved to not be the only one with short cookies.

Rachel said...

Ooooh I love your picture of all of the biscotti lined up! Sour cherries sound great, too!

Mary Jo said...

dried cherries sounds fantastic, especially with the dark chocolate, yum!

Annette said...

Gorgeous photos. Your biscotti looks delicious. Can I join your book group? ;) I loved these cookies.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Those biscotti look delicious. I like the varieties you made.I just love old fashioned crockery to put good fine baking on - what a beautiful heirloom cup!

Mike Spoodles said...

Your dipped finished products look AMAZING!

Sandy Smith said...

These look wonderful! I love your variations. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to chill the dough, but I didn't have too much trouble with spreading, so mine came out long and slender but not bizarre (something to be thankful for, I guess).

I'm looking forward to the pumpkin muffins too!

n.o.e said...

Back to the World Peace Cookies. I'm embarrassed to say that I just went to the actual cookbook (not too difficult since it lives on my kitchen counter, opened to the particular week's recipe selection) and saw that Dorie specifies "1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt" So much for my memory, carry on amongst yourselves... sea salt should be fine.

Melissa, maybe the cookies weren't your cup of tea? We can't all have the same favorite cookie!

Carol Peterman said...

Your biscotti are beautiful and sound downright healthful! Guilt-free indulging. I too find I prefer naked biscotti, which surprises me because generally I think most things are improved by a touch of chocolate.

The Food Librarian said...

Fantastic looking cookies! Love the addition of grapefruit zest! I know your book club will enjoy them!

Liz said...

Chocolate cherry sounds faaaabulous. And if you add some almonds, you have like a black forest biscotti!

Christine said...

I am going to chill my log next time. Your biscotti looks delicious and I love your tea cup!

Kayte said...

Beautiful photos...the last one is just magazine quality, book quality, etc. Your biscotti look wonderful, and the flavor combinations really lovely. Great job. That's why I come here...to see how it is SUPPOSED to be done!
www.grandmaskitchentable.typepad.com

TeaLady said...

I, too, usually bake early before the Q and A. Mine spread some, but made great biscotti. Yours, however, look fantastic. Like your hubby, I like mine plain, but want to try again with other flavors. The 'rustic' grainy texture just added to the flavor. Yummy!!!!

Madam Chow said...

I love the wheat germ/melted chocolate combo - if only all health food were like that!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I love your aunt's china teacup and saucer! And all your notes are very handy and useful! I think I would like the cherry version too!

Amanda said...

These look absolutely divine, and that China, beautiful! I hope you don't mind me adding you to my blog roll. Thanks for commenting on my biscotti!

Di said...

I love your cup and saucer--very pretty. =) I've been trying to sub some white whole wheat in my recipes lately, but didn't do anything with the biscotti. Maybe with the muffins...

LyB said...

Your presentation is just lovely. Perfect for these treats!