Excellent Biscotti; Even Better News
October 2, 2008
I have a go-to savory biscotti recipe and you’ll just have to believe that I’ve been feeling bad for quite some time that I haven’t told you about it yet. But, it’d been blogged about elsewhere and, well, I never got around to it. But I can more than make up for it with these delightful biscotti, which are also savory and happen to be loaded with aged gouda and studded with bits of walnuts. After one batch, they have displaced my previous go-to and I can tell already that they’ll grace many book club meetings and cocktail parties in my future.
They are compact and crunchy and golden, which is to say nothing of their incredible flavor: full, warm and toasted. The flavor was awfully comforting and hauntingly familiar and, after thoughtfully munching on more biscotti than I care to share, I finally put my finger on what they reminded me of. Cheez-its. And I mean that in the very best way possible. It’s also the first biscotti recipe I’ve seen that calls for yeast—an addition I initially questioned, but ultimately praised once I tried the crisp exterior and softer middle that it created. But all this said, I could hardly care less about this recipe right now. And I’ll tell you why …
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Because I found out yesterday that I PASSED THE BAR EXAM, that’s why! Which means that I am more than a little preoccupied and not even these biscotti can keep my focus. Which means I am officially a lawyer. Which means that the incessant self doubt of the last two months is over. Finished. No more. And all that means that I can now start worrying about the important things in life: the fate of the 2008 Cubs, the locations of the best lunch spots near my new office, the menu for tomorrow night’s dinner.
Aged Gouda Biscotti with Walnuts
Food & Wine
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
8 ounces aged Gouda (preferably 4 years), shredded (2 cups)
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
In a medium bowl, combine the yeast with 1/2 cup of the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and 3/4 cup of the flour to form a sponge; cover and let stand until billowy, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups of flour with the Gouda, walnuts and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water; add the butter and stir until a dough is formed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes; divide into thirds. Roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch log about 1 1/2 inches thick. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. Loosely cover with lightly moistened paper towels and plastic wrap. Let stand for about 45 minutes, until risen. Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the plastic wrap and paper towels and bake the logs for about 35 minutes, until they are golden and puffed and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 205°. Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300° and position 2 racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs crosswise 1/3; inch thick. Arrange the slices cut side up on 2 baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden and crisp; flip the biscotti halfway through and shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and let cool completely before serving.