Friday, January 14, 2011
It's January, and that means it's very, very cold out there, sometimes the kind of cold that comes with a foot of snow and sloppy roads (ick), but sometimes the other kind, the kind where the air is dry and your nose is frozen and dammit, it's just so cold, and all you want to do is stay inside and hunker down with a big cup of tea (or cocoa, or coffee, anything hot and delicious is good).
But as much as I love tea, there's something missing when you sit there with just a mug of hot liquid, no matter how tasty that liquid is. Not to mention that eventually, you get liquid-bloat, when your stomach gets all sloshy and you're just uncomfortable. What this situation calls for is something to soak up all of that tea in your stomach, nothing huge, just a little nom, a little something to nibble while you sip.
Enter biscotti. That's what they're best at, what they're made for -- their crispy hardness and long shape make them perfect for dunking into a cup of tea.
This is another one of things that I never really thought of making before because biscotti has always been something you buy in a package or at a coffeehouse counter. But now, I'll never go back, 'cause not only are these cheaper, but they're such a forgiving recipe and so adaptable. I say "forgiving" because it calls for a cup and a half of sugar, and I was caught with only a cup in the house, so I substituted a half-cup of brown sugar, and they turned out just fine. Also, you can switch out the flavors and mix-ins to your heart's content; I used almond extract 'cause that's what I was in the mood for, but sadly, I didn't have any almonds in the house, or I would have thrown some in for extra crunch. Chocolate chips work, too, if you're in that sort of a mood. Or you could throw in citrus zest, or maybe even coconut. Whatever you feel like using should work just fine.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 1/4 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp extract, your choice (I used almond)
1 c mix-ins -- chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc. (totally optional)
1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs, then the extracts. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in any mix-ins you're using.
3. Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log about 2 1/2 inches wide and 13 inches long, then place them side by side on a cookie sheet (leave some space around them, 'cause they'll spread a bit).
4. Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
5. Cool about 25 minutes on the pan atop a cooling rack.
6. Slice the logs on a bias, about a half-inch thick (a serrated knife would be a good idea, but be gentle).
7. Lay the slices out flat on the cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 8 minutes. Cool on rack.