Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lenox (Almond) Biscotti (TWD)


This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Gretchen of Canela & Comino: Lenox Almond Biscotti. Biscotti are Italian "biscuits," which are really just cookies that have been twice baked. The second trip to the oven dries them out and yields a crisp cookie that is great for dunking in coffee and has a nice shelf life (they will keep - covered or not - for about a week).


I thought long and hard about sitting this one out. I don't like biscotti and I don't like nuts (nor do I drink coffee). Since joining the group in January, I've only missed two weeks - once because I had a severe contusion to my hand and could not even turn a door knob, and the other time because I was out of town. So when I started thinking about it, not liking the recipe seemed like a pretty lame excuse. Plus, the whole reason why I joined TWD was to (1) bake my way through an entire cookbook, (2) learn/improve my baking skills, and (3) challenge myself to try recipes I otherwise would not try on my own. So I forged on with the recipe, determined to keep an open mind. I wanted to give myself a fair chance of liking the recipe, so I omitted the almonds. I decided to make a half batch with chocolate chips, and the other half with dried cranberries.


I had never made biscotti before, so I was nervous about screwing up the recipe. I read the instructions carefully, several times over, to make sure I did not make any mistakes. There were a few things about the recipe that I wasn't sure about. First, you're supposed to divide the dough in half, and then form two logs. Each log is supposed to be 12" long and 1-1/2" wide. I didn't see how I was going to get anything that resembled biscotti from this. Turns out, the dough is supposed to spread quite a bit in the oven, allowing you to get the characteristic oblong biscotti shape.


Dorie warns that the log will be bumpy, rough and uneven - so don't be concerned if your dough isn't all smooth and pretty.


The other part of the recipe that I wasn't so sure about was between the first and second bake. After the first bake, Dorie instructs you to cut the logs into 3/4" thick slices and then return them to the baking sheet. Instead of laying them cut side down, Dorie wants you to stand them up "like a marching band." I had no idea what that meant! (Apparently, several others did not either.) Laurie told me to arrange them on the tray in the same manner in which they were cut, so that's what I did. I just cannot see how it would be physically possible to stand them on their tips, without them toppling over. Apparently, you don't want to lay them cut side down because then they won't crisp up on both sides.


So what was the verdict? I really liked these! The biscotti you buy in stores like Starbucks taste like hard rocks. Homemade biscotti is so much better. I thought these were best straight out of the oven, and just okay once they were cool. I had one person tell me they tasted better the second day, though. A few noted that the cornmeal made these too gritty, but I didn't find that the case with mine at all. As for the add ins... chocolate seemed to be much more popular than the dried cranberries. I had originally intended to make cranberry orange biscotti by rubbing some orange zest into the sugar before beating the butter and sugar together but I was in such a hurry I forgot. Maybe next time I'll make cranberry orange white chocolate chip biscotti. I really like that this recipe lends itself to so many different variations...


Thanks Gretchen, for choosing this recipe. If it weren't for you, I would have never tried homemade biscotti and I would have forever hated it! If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you visit the TWD Blog Roll to see how everyone else enjoyed these!

*A few recipe notes:
- The baking time is 15 minutes if you halve the recipe. (Though some bakers even noted a longer baking time for the full recipe.)
- When you are shaping your logs, you can easily make them 1.5" wide by measuring with 3 finger widths.
- Don't put your logs too close together on the baking sheet - the dough spreads quite a bit after baking. I started with a log that was 1.5" wide... after baking, it was about 6" wide.
- If the dough is too hard to work with, you can chill it in the refrigerator for ~15 minutes before shaping it into logs, but don't chill it too long, or else it won't spread as much as it should.
- I used vanilla extract instead of almond extract because I omitted the almonds.
- For more recipe tips, click here.

39 comments:

  1. I'm not a huge fan of biscotti either (especially since I'm a "chewy, super-soft cookie" lover); but I'm glad that you still participated, since your batch of biscotti (love the variations/substitutions!!) looks lovely!!

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  2. how nice to be converted!! and to stick with the baking, even when you aren't quite up for it. you're right, that is the point. your biscotti are so beautiful!

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  3. I am so glad you liked them. I thought they were fantastic, as did Jaos. Im tempted to make another batch today. Love the pics too Jaime!

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  4. I worked in a restaurant and made biscotti all the time. Yours look great. I love dried cherries and almonds, or pistachios in mine.

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  5. See! You learned so much from a simple little cookie - and OF COURSE they are better than Starbucks! Great job!

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  6. Love the chocolate chip add-in idea! Glad you weren't dissapointed with the recipe!

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  7. I agree, homemade are better because you can make them softer. Nothing like breaking a tooth on a cookie.

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  8. They look wonderful, so I'm glad you liked them. I must admit, I'd go for the cranberries first.

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  9. So glad that you gave them a try and liked them! Your biscotti is beautiful!

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  10. Yeah!! I am so glad you liked these!! Your variations sound great - perfect for you! And now you like biscotti?! Yeah!

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  11. Jaime,
    Gorgeous photos, first of all. Second of all, I too would never have made biscotti because of my yucky impression of coffee shop imitations. However, if this is real biscotti, I am totally converted. Yours are beautiful. Great Job!
    AmyRuth

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  12. I LOVE biscotti-and have been chicken to try them...with your step by step pictures, I just might give it a go!!!! They look SO good!

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  13. These look great! I too was unsure about the biscotti but ended up loving them!

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  14. glad you liked them! i had the same kind of experience. the cranberries sound like a great idea - i just used white choc in mine :)

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  15. Well, I for one love biscotti and those look wonderful.

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  16. Nice to try things without much hope and then finding we like them! Well done, they're very nice!

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  17. Home made biscotti is so different isnt it!

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  18. These look great! Glad you decided to give them a chance to discover that you like them! It's fun to be surprised by recipes like that.

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  19. I too had a biscotti conversion experience, thanks to TWD. It seems common this time around, and I've had it happen on other challenges (making my FOURTH Dimply Plum Cake this week!) It's totally been the best side-effect of joining the group. Your biscotti look gorgeous and I'd be taking the cranberry!
    Nancy

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  20. i'm glad you didn't sit this one out. your biscotti came out great! i didn't have a chance to make them tonight since I was so busy, but I'm going to give it a try!

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  21. Your biscotti look fantastic!! I, unfortunately, take things very literally and didn't quite understand the term "like a marching band!" I used cranberry too - yummy!

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  22. ooohhhh cranberry-orange-white chocolate sounds amazing as a variation. I have to try that the next time I bake biscotti! Glad you were able to join in the baking fun. It wouldn't be the same without you ;)
    Clara @ iheartfood4thought

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  23. i don't like biscotti either (i value my teeth and refuse to contaminate my coffee with cookie crumbs), but these actually look light and even slightly chewy! nicely done.

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  24. your biscotti look perfect. I love the additions of chocolate chips and cranberries. I'm definitely trying these again with different flavors.

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  25. Love your photos! Well done!!

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  26. despite your uncertainties, looks like you made perfect biscotti! :)

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  27. Yes I agree store bought biscotti is nothing like homemade, I'm glad you decided to make it so you could compare!

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  28. Yours looks GREAT! Looks like they sliced so perfectly. I think mine should have baked a little longer the first time. It was pretty had to cut. But it is cool how they turn out and are good when we're not expecting them to. I can't wait to try other variations.

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  29. Your idea for cranberry orange with white chocolate sounds like the perfect biscotti for the holidays. It sounds like you and I were in the same place before baking this recipe. I wasn't sure about getting it done either. But I did, and like you, I'm glad I did! They look picture perfect.

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  30. Oh, they're just perfect. I love the chocolate and cranberries variations.

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  31. Oh, they're just perfect. I love the chocolate and cranberries variations.

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  32. I am SO glad that you ended up liking biscotti! And you should... yours are beautiful! They look delicious! And WOW you are dedicated! Contusions and out of town trips are free passes!! :)

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  33. I'm glad you ended up liking them! I like your changes, they look delicious!

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  34. There are so many biscotti converts this week! Glad you liked them.

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  35. Too bad I am not a fan of biscotti. But if I was, I would be all over these! Great job on yours. They look insanely beautiful. Yum yum!

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  36. You really set me laughing with the idea of standing them on their tips. That's exactly what I thought the directions said also, and needless to say I didn't do that due to the likelihood if being impossible. In the end I rested them on their edges. Great changes, and lovely biscotti.

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  37. I felt the same way when I first tried making biscotti (this was my second time).

    Yours looks so perfect, like you got the logs just right.

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  38. I love your mug. =) I thought vanilla was good in these (I don't like almond), and I like your idea of doing them with orange and cranberry.

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