Pistachio, Cherry & White Chocolate Biscotti
April 8, 2008
This blog has hatched a variety of phenomena in my life: cooking weekly family dinners with Kevin and my sister, spending hours sending recipe links to my sister over Google Chat, creating a spreadsheet of recipe links (I mentioned this list the other day and implied that it was bordering on out-of-control; I lied: it’s definitely out-of-control), constantly trying to stanch the overflow from my pantry and spice rack. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Because it’s the newest phenomenon that I want to tell you about today: I call it Sunday Treats.
We often see Kevin’s parents during the weekends because they usually trade their weekday suburban locale for the city on Saturdays and Sundays. We might meet them for a late-night drink on Saturday night, but more often, we’ll have brunch (in or out) or an early dinner on Sunday. And if either of Kevin’s sisters are visiting, they’ll be there too. This nearly-every-weekend thing has always been fun and it’s undeniably nourishing to see family. But now it’s become functional too!
You see, now I don’t just get to catch up with my in-laws, I also get to foist leftovers upon leftovers upon them! In recent weeks, before heading to brunch or dinner, I have tucked bags or tupperware filled with tiny key lime bars, a selection of assorted bagels, or cubed blondies from one of my test batches in my purse. When the check comes, I pull out the treats and simultaneously clear our pantry, avoid the temptation of a full cookie jar and, um oh yeah, share a good-natured, totally unselfish gift of fresh baked goods.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
What does all this have to do with the biscotti you see here (talk about the cart before the horse — this post is almost over and I haven’t even mentioned the poor things!)? Well, these biscotti—absolutely jam packed with dried cherries, pistachios and white chocolate chunks (actually, when I was at the stage in the recipe that instructs you to fold in these items, I was quite sure the dough simply wouldn’t accept such a large amount of extras; luckily, I was wrong)—were so good that the leftovers didn’t even make it to the Sunday Treat handoff. I made them on Friday and by Sunday evening, there were no biscotti to spare.
Since I have just thrown us under the bus with this little story about devouring just how many? biscotti in approximately 48 hours, I must tell you that I halved the recipe. And if you’re doing the math, realizing that that still comes out to a one-slice-of-biscotti-per-every-5-hours ratio and looking at me disapprovingly, then I defy you to make these biscotti and see how long they last you.
A couple other things in my defense. First, I didn’t dip them in chocolate, as the recipe instructed (virtuous, I know); I don’t think they needed it. And then there’s the fact that they truly were irresistible. They are crunchy (of course), but they are unexpectedly flavored: not overly sweet in the least, and tinged with fragrant almond extract. And just when your jaws are aching from chomping on the biscotti itself, you will be treated to one of three variations in that texture: the toothsome chew of a dried cherry, the softness of a white chocolate chip or the meaty crunch (not to be confused with the brittle crunch of the biscotti) of the pistachios. And then there are the colors: the deep magenta of the cherries and the bright green that only a pistachio can cast. And before you know it, you’ll be all: “Mmm, biscotti would go lovely with this steaming cup of coffee!” Or: “hey, you know what would make the perfect dessert after this lunch?” Or: “This biscotti could really offer me just the energy I need to go on that jog!” (Shameful.) Or simply: “Oh, look it’s biscotti; I’d better have a bite.” And then it will be Sunday night and you will have to go to dinner empty-handed.
The moral of the story (which has been a little long and winding, eh?) is this: don’t halve this recipe. You (and your in-laws) would only regret it.
Pistachio, Cherry and White Chocolate Biscotti
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3/4 cup shelled raw unsalted natural pistachios
1 cup dried cherries (or raspberries or strawberries), chopped (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)*
8 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina) and/or 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped**
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, oil, and almond extract in large bowl until well blended. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in pistachios, dried berries, and 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls in two 12-inch-long strips on prepared baking sheet, spacing strips 3 inches apart. Using wet fingertips, shape each strip into 3-inch-wide log, pressing evenly (logs may look slightly lumpy).
Bake logs until lightly browned and almost firm to touch, about 30 minutes. Cool logs on sheet 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Carefully transfer logs to cutting board. Line same baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each log crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stand biscotti upright, spacing about 1/4 inch apart, in 3 rows on prepared baking sheet. Bake until pale golden (biscotti may be soft but will firm as they cool), about 20 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet.
Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 8 ounces chopped white chocolate in medium glass bowl. Place 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate in another medium glass bowl, if desired. Microwave separately on medium in 20-second intervals just until chocolate is soft to touch, about 40 seconds total (do not overheat or chocolate will burn or seize). Stir chocolate until smooth.
Dip 1 end or 1 side of each biscotti in chocolate; place on baking sheet. Chill until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. (Can be made ahead. Arrange in single layer in airtight container and chill up to 5 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)
* I used good-quality white chocolate chips.
** I skipped this step and, as I said in the post, I don’t think it’s necessary.