Birthday Biscotti

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I have been working on this recipe for approximately 2 weeks in preparation for my mom’s birthday. She is absolutely in love with biscotti. Unfortunately she lives 1,500 miles away from me, so I can’t bake her a cake and mail it. However, biscotti are so small and stay fresh forever when they’re stored in an airtight container, perfect for long distance travel!

Everytime I talk on the phone with her she tells me about the biscotti that she bought in the store, some are good and some are not so good. One thing for sure though, they’re not made with love like mine.

Biscotti is a long Italian cookie that is made primarily of egg, sugar, and flour. The cookie originated in the city of Prato, Italy centuries ago. One amazing fact about biscotti is that it means “twice baked” and because this double baking removes alot of moisture from the final product, it stays fresh longer. Because it is baked twice, the second baking determines how hard the cookie will be and because it is traditionally very hard, it is served with coffee or any other drink.

My first attempt at baking biscotti was not very succesful because I used fat (butter). This gave me a crumbly cookie, as opposed to the dense texture that I was looking for. It was still very delicious, but I would not call it biscotti.

The second time I made biscotti, I omitted the fat and just mixed the eggs and sugar before adding in the flour and leavening agent. This time around I would have been succesful had I not overbaked it. The first time I baked them in the slab form I did not take them out of the oven until the slab was very hard. The second baking made it even harder and by the time I was ready to enjoy I almost broke my tooth off because they were so hard. I dubbed that batch the “post apocalyptic biscotti” because they could have made perfect weapons.

After taking some tips from my friend at work ( who loves food just as much as I do), I made the perfect biscotti. The texture is dense, a bit crumbly ( not too much) but not tooth breaking hard. Perfect for mailing across the country!

This is the recipe I used: ( remeber, the secret is in the baking time)

Orange pistachio biscotti

1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 organic sugar
2 large eggs (divided)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c crushed raw pistachios
2 Tbs orange zest
I tsp allspice
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F
2. Mix 1 egg with sugar and orange zest. Mix well until eggs begin to get slightly frothy. This will give the cookie a bit more volume. Add nuts to this wet mixture.
3. In a different bowl mix flour, baking powder, allspice, and salt.
Mix dry ingredients into wet mixture and mix just until a sticky dough is formed. Do not mix any more after this point because the gluten in the flour will develop and it may cause the final product to be hard and dense
4. Grease a baking sheet and form a log out of the dough. In a small bowl mix the other egg with a tbs of water to form an egg wash. Brush egg wash over the dough log and throw into the oven for about 30 minutes or until the dough turns slightly brown.
5. The first baking is very important because you need to make sure that the dough is firm but still soft to the touch in the middle. Do not leave in the oven until it is hard. Remove and let it cool for 10 minutes
6. Slice diagonally and set the sliced biscotti on a baking rack. Bake for another 10 minutes. Once done, allow to cool and place In an airtight container.

Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee!

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Who wants peanut butter cookies?

When I was sitting in front of the admissions officer of Le Cordon Bleu back in April, he asked me which program I wanted to enroll in; culinary arts or patisserie and baking. I immediately thought to myself  “D-U_H! Of course I want to enroll in culinary.” What I did not now back then that I have come to learn in my few months in culinary school is that I have a new respect for baking. Bakers are scientists with an artistic touch. They take care of every single detail, from the molecular level to the aesthetics, they got it all covered. For that, I think they deserve a big round of applause.

I am now taking a baking class which is designed for culinary students. This class touches up on the basics such as working with yeast doughs and making quick breads, cookies, danish dough, pizza dough, and other relatively simple techniques. This has been enough to spark my desire to come back after completing my program and getting my patisserie and baking diploma.

For now however, I am having the time of my life making delicious cookies in class. As we were wrapping up for the night (a bit earlier than usual), chef comes into the kitchen and asks, ” who wants peanut butter cookies?” I don’t understand why that is even a question….of course everyone wants peanut butter cookies, ALWAYS!  Everyone in the class was in the mood to make, but more importantly EAT peanut butter cookies.

Do try this at home, they will be delicious.

The following recipe has been taken from “Professional Baking 5th ed” Wayne Gisslen

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • Butter 12 oz
  • Brown sugar 8 oz
  • granulated sugar 8 oz
  • peanut butter 12 oz
  • eggs 4 oz
  • vanilla extract 2 tsp
  • pastry flour 1 lb
  • baking soda  0.16 oz

Procedure

1. Cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter together in the mixer with the whip paddle.

2. Slowly add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly

3. In a separate bowl mix the baking soda and the flour together

4 Add into the mixer and keep mixing at medium speed until the flour incorporates into the rest of the dough

5. With a spoon scrape off the sides to make sure you get everything in the mixture. Don’t let any go to waste.The dough should be thick and rich. The picture below is my cookie dough from class.

6. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough and place it on a parchment paper lined sheet pan or you may grease the pan to avoid sticking. Make sure the dough balls are placed about 3 inches apart.

7. Press down lightly on the cookie with the bottom of a fork and form a criss cross shape, this is done to flatten the dough and so that it may help the cookie bake evenly and have a crispier end result. Bake at 375 °F for about 11-14 minutes.

8.Enjoy =)