There is more than one way to slice biscotti. There are at least sixty. Or there will be when I’m through with them.
Which is a roundabout way of saying I’ve just started work on a new book project. Subject: Biscotti. It won’t be an exhaustive project ~ just a fun little homage to one of the world’s favorite cookies, with traditional and contemporary recipes.
To kick off the project I’m sharing this recipe for what I’m calling Cherry Republic Biscotti. It doesn’t sound molto Italiano, but it is. Sort of. Think Italy by way of Michigan. Okay, I’ll explain. Every August my family and I drive (yes, drive ~ we are crazy people who actually enjoy car trips) to northern Michigan’s beautiful lake country to see family. And one of the places we visit year after year without fail is the Cherry Republic, in Glen Arbor. This shop—well, it’s far more than a shop, it’s more like a…republic!—is all about paying tribute to the cherry. Specifically, the sour cherry (aka tart cherry, aka pie cherry). The Cherry Republic’s shelves are stocked with neatly tied bags of dried cherries and chocolate-covered dried cherries (dark, milk, white), jars of cherry preserves (cherry-berry, cherry-strawberry, cherry-pepper, cherry butter), plus cherry salsa, cherry BBQ sauce and more. Lots more. At the cafe you can treat yourself to a cherry coke, cherry iced tea or cherry lemonade, as well as cherry hamburgers, cherry hot dogs, cherry ice cream and cherry pie. And at the winery next door you can sip a glass of cherry wine.
This past August I brought home, among other things, a bag of the Cherry Republic Ambassador Mix, which combines dried cherries and cranberries, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. A tasty snack. Or, if you think like I do, a tasty something to fold into your biscotti dough. I finally got around to making the biscotti this weekend, and they are cherry-licious. Festive, too, studded with red, green and white.
In addition to the book project, this post also kicks off the second annual Dicembre Dolce (Sweet December), a tradition (if you can call it that) I started last year with this post. You might have noticed that I don’t post that often about sweets—the last dessert recipe I shared was back in July. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, except in December when it seems to go into overdrive. So this month will be all about dolci, dolci, and more dolci.
Wishing you all a sweet, cherry-studded December. You deserve it!
NOTE TO PASTA LOVERS: The ebook edition of The Glorious Pasta of Italy is being offered (through Dec. 4 only!) for the bargain price of $3.99! Head to the Chronicle Books website for more information and for links to Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Google Play, Kobo and Sony.
Cherry Republic Biscotti
(copyright 2012 Domenica Marchetti)
I used the Cherry Republic’s Ambassador Mix to load up these biscotti with crunchy nuts and tart, chewy dried fruit. You can find it online here, or feel free to substitute your own fruit and nut snack mix or just jumble together 1/2 cup nuts and 1/2 cup dried cherries and cranberries.
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Zest of 1 orange, plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup (5 ounces) Cherry Republic Ambassador Mix (see headnote) or a mix of nuts and dried fruit
2 eggs plus 1 yolk (reserve the extra egg white for brushing on top of the dough)
Vegetable oil for greasing the baking sheet
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until combined. If any of the nuts are whole (such as macadamias), separate them from the rest of the mix and cut them in half. Add the mixed nuts and fruit to the flour mixture and mix briefly on low until combined. Add the eggs and egg yolk and the orange juice and mix on low or medium-low until the dough just comes together. Dump the dough onto a clean work surface and pat it into a thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight. (At this point you can freeze the dough for up to 2 weeks; be sure to defrost it thoroughly before forming the biscotti logs.)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a clean work surface. Cut the disk in half. Roll one half into a log about 12 inches long. Pat the log down gently to flatten the top until it is about 2 inches wide. Place the log on the prepared baking sheet. Roll and shape the remaining log and set it on the sheet, taking care to keep the two logs at least 3 inches apart. Lightly beat the reserved egg white and brush it over the tops of the two logs.
Bake the logs for 25 minutes or until they are lightly golden and set (if you press your finger lightly on the surface of a log it should spring back). Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325. Let the logs cool 5 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, loosen the logs from the baking sheet and gently transfer them to a cooling rack. Cool for 30 minutes.
Place one log on a cutting board and with a sharp, serrated knife, cut it on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices (18 to 20 slices, including ends). Cut the second log in the same way. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes, until they are crisp and golden. Transfer the slices to the cooling rack and let them cool to room temperature.
Enjoy the biscotti with a glass of Vin Santo. Store them at room temperature in a metal cookie tin with a tight-fitting lid for up to 10 days.