Biscotti come in various forms. Some are so hard you could use them to pave a freeway. And some are just perfect.
These are delightfully perfect. And, they have a double life. This recipe calls for all-purpose flour. If you have family or friends with Celiac disease, then you can substitute gluten-free flour here and obtain a wonderful, and just ever so slightly different, treat. The figs will look a bit like chocolate chips, but they aren’t and when you bite into them you get that wonderful fruit flavor. Of course, there’s nothing to keep you from adding in some chips just for fun.
Suzen works with the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, offering monthly events where Celiac patients and families come to learn to cook together. The wonderful thing we have learned is that a Celiac-friendly meal can be absolutely wonderful. From appetizers through dessert. At this week’s event, everyone left with biscotti on their palette and the recipe in their hands.
Buttery Hazelnut-Fig Biscotti
Yield: 6 dozen biscotti
- 2 ½ cups hazelnuts [10 ounces]
- 14 ounces dried Calimyrna figs
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
Preheat oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until the skins blister. Let cool, then transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and rub off as much of the skins as possible. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, cover the figs with water and microwave at high power for 1 minute, just until the figs are plump. Drain well. Trim off the stem ends and slice the figs ⅛ inch thick.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat at low speed until combined. Add the nuts and figs and beat until combined.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into six 10-by-1 ½-inch logs. Arrange the logs on the baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and firm. Let the logs cool for 15 minutes.
On a work surface, using a serrated knife, slice the logs on the diagonal ⅔ inch thick. Arrange the biscotti cut sides up on the baking sheets and bake for about 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Let the biscotti cool, then serve or store.
Source: Vergennes, VT: A Bakery’s Perfect Tarts and Desserts described in foodandwine.com
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM lens shot at F/5.0, 1/60th second, ISO 2000
Buttermilk by Debbie Moose expounds the wonderful array of flavors that can be spiked with the bright tang of buttermilk. Here’s her recipe for pound cake, now boosted with buttermilk flavor. You can eat this on its own, put a lemon or vanilla icing on top, or do what we did: adorn with fresh fruit. The texture — soft yet deep and fulfilling — gives any meal an ending of substance.
This cake is easily made and is a wonderful way to induce your children or grandchildren to help in the kitchen. Getting them to add the flour and buttermilk by thirds will give them a kitchen mission that truly makes them feel important. A couple of hours later, when they bite away, you can applaud their culinary mathematics.
We made this cake for our grandchildren in Austin. They did not have a 10-inch tube pan so we divided the batter into two 9-inch cake rounds. The baking time went from an hour to around 40 minutes. The cakes were superb when topped with some fresh fruit, sliced and sweeted with just a little sugar. Ice cream or whipped cream could have been added. But, honestly, we did not want to detract from the great buttermilk flavor.
Jan’s Buttermilk Pound Cake
Yield: 20 servings
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 extra-large eggs or 6 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare a 10-inch tube pan by coating the inner surface with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil and dusting with flour
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until creamy and pale, about 5 minutes. Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk gently to beak the yolks. Add the eggs to the butter mixture in two additions, beating well after each and scraping the sides of the bowl between beatings.
In a medium blow, whisk tougher the baking soda, salt and flour. On medium speed, beat 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. Stop the mixer and add half of the buttermilk. Turn the mixer on low to prevent spatters and bear for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, the vanilla, and the rest of the flour mixture, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl periodically to incorporate all the ingredients. The batter will be thick.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan and rap the bottom of the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. The cake make crack on top, but this is ok.
Source: Buttermilk by Debbie Moose, a Savor the South cookbook from the University of North Carolina Press
Photo Information: iPad