Those of you who have known me for a while probably know that I’m a bit of a coffee addict. Well, it’s not really an out-of-control addiction, but I do have a fancy-schmancy coffee problem. I have one or two cups of regular drip coffee in the morning like most people and on many days, that’s enough. However, there are other days when the drive-thru at Starbucks calls my name and I just have to get something that involves espresso, and foam, and maybe caramel, or cute little sprinkles.
I also love treats that go with coffee. Nothing makes me happier than settling in with a good book, a cozy blanket, a cappuccino and a good scone or piece of biscotti. OK, who are we kidding? That never happens. My reading time amounts to the time I spend in car pick up line at the end of the day and my fancy coffee drinks are mostly guzzled as I drive. There is no coffee lounging going on around here!
This year, my daughter’s class put together a Coffee Lover’s Basket for the school’s silent auction fundraiser. Since I love to bake, I told her teacher I’d put some homemade biscotti in the basket. Then, it dawned on me that I’d never made biscotti before and this could get ugly. Biscotti is baked twice, and requires a little more attention than a typical cookie recipe. What if I burned it? Didn’t bake it enough? Baked it enough, but it’s so hard that it breaks off someone’s tooth? AAAAHHHHH! Thankfully, after some recipe shopping, I came across a recipe that seemed simple enough.
I did change a few things up, though. This recipe originally called for aniseeds. I don’t like the taste of anise, so I skipped that all together and went another route. I decided to up the almond extract in the recipe and add in some chopped pistachios and dried cherries. After looking over a lot of biscotti recipes, it seems that you can really change up flavorings to your heart’s content. Just stay reasonable.
Next, I mixed up a really sticky dough in my mixer. The recipe said to have my cookie sheet floured, but I’m going to tell you to flour it really well. This is a sticky, sticky dough and much easier to work with if you have your hands floured, the cookie sheet floured and anything that might touch the dough covered in white.
Once the dough was mixed, I shaped it (with my well floured hands) into a 16×5 inch loaf shape.
Now, it was ready for its first bake. Into the oven it went, for about 30 minutes. It came out perfectly golden brown and smelled de-licious.
Once it had cooled a bit, I got out my bread knife and sliced the loaf into 1/2 inch slices.
I laid the slices back out on the same cookie sheet and the biscotti went back into the oven for the second baking. It baked for an additional 10 minutes, and came out of the oven looking perfectly toasty.
Once it had cooled, I had to try some for myself, right? I couldn’t pack this up and give it to someone having never tried it! I looked at the clock and had ten minutes before it was time to pick up the girls. I quickly brewed myself a cup of coffee (Thank you, Mr. Keurig! You’re a genius!), and sat down to try it out. It was great! Cross another one off of my baking bucket list!
I’ve had a lot of biscotti that are so hard, they kind of hurt to bite into, even if you’re dipping it in coffee first. This biscotti came out nice and crisp, but just soft enough. It wasn’t too dry or hard at all. The dried cherries and pistachios worked really well together and I loved that hint of almond in the background.
I just hope that whoever won the basket enjoyed it as much as I did!
DRIED CHERRY AND PISTACHIO BISCOTTI
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. pure almond extract
- ½ cup shelled, salted pistachios, chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped dried sour cherries
- Make sure your oven rack is in the lower third of your oven and preheat the oven to 325*. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and flour it well.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract and, using your mixer, mix on low until combined. Stir in the pistachios and cherries. The dough will be very sticky.
- Transfer the dough to the cookie sheet, sprinkle the dough with flour, flour your hands, and pat the dough into a 16x5 inch loaf shape, about 1 inch high. Brush excess flour off of the top of it before putting it into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until slightly firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Leave the oven on!
- Using a serrated knife, slice the biscotti into ½ inch-thick slices. Space the biscotti evenly on the cookie sheet for the second baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges and tops are nice and toasty. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store the biscotti in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.
- Makes approx. 28 cookies