Thursday, 22 December 2011

Buon Natale di Roma!

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Ciao, tutti!  I'm on a much-needed vacation in Rome right now, but I couldn't neglect the blog during the bakingest season of the year, so I'm leaving you with this recipe for fabulously easy, majorly impressive homemade biscotti.

I made these guys for a dinner party back in early November (more on that to come, as it was my first time doing a full-on dinner for a vegetarian-inclusive crowd), and everyone was so surprised to hear that I'd baked them from scratch.  I just brushed off the oohs and aahs with a shrug: no biggie.

Because the beauty of this recipe is that it really is no biggie – it's a straightforward dough, that you basically slap in a log on a baking sheet, then pull it out of the oven, slice 'er up, and stick the cookies back in.  A few minutes later: voil√†!  Freshly baked cookies of the type that most people only see in cellophane wrappers or big fancy cookie jars on hipster coffee shop counters.

The funny thing is, I totally bungled this recipe.  I kind of made it up, based on a different biscotti recipe, and when they were baking in the oven I did a quick google of lemon poppyseed biscotti, to see how close I was to doing it right.  Lo and behold, I totally did it right!  Except... the recipe I found called for 3 Tbsp of poppyseeds, and I put in the whole bag, which was probably 1/3 cup.  So... yeah.  These little guys were pretty crunchy.

But that's the miracle of a simple recipe; they were still very tasty!  So tasty, in fact, that the bf ate them all before I could photograph one in daylight (hence the bad night-pics)!

So this year, in addition to your peppermint barks and shortbreads and pies, I'd definitely recommend whipping up a batch of biscotti for your holiday gatherings.  They keep really well, go great with coffee, and make a much bigger impression than the process of baking them really warrants. 

But don't worry; I won't tell your guests.

Basic Biscotti Recipe  
     (with lemon poppyseed add-ins in purple)
adapted from Allrecipes

In a large bowl, cream until fluffy:
     1/4 c (57g) butter
     3/4 c sugar

Stir in:
     1 Tbsp lemon zest
     1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir in, one at a time:
     2 eggs
     1 egg white

Whisk together in a separate bowl, then add gradually to wet ingredients:
     2 c flour
     1.5 tsp baking powder
     1/4 tsp salt
Stir in:
     1-2 c your preferred add-ins (nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc) (or 3-5 Tbsp poppyseeds)

Chill dough 30 minutes, then heat oven to 325F/165C and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Divide the dough into two halves and form a long log out of each.  Arrange logs 3 inches apart on the baking sheet (they will spread) and bake 30 minutes or until golden.

Cool the logs on the sheet until they're cool enough to handle, then slice on the diagonal to make 1-inch cookies.  Arrange the cookies on their sides on the tray and put back into the oven for a further 15 minutes, until golden.  Cool on a rack before serving.

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