12/2/11

Baking on Friday: Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti


This is the time of year when I'm trying a lot of new recipes looking for good ones to give as gifts.  I love biscotti for this reason.  This combination of cranberries and pistachio nuts is especially nice because of the pretty red and green color it has.

The problem I have with biscotti for gifting is that I have trouble slicing them during the baking process without ending up with a lot of broken pieces, and only a few whole cookies pretty enough to give as gifts.  The recipe I'm giving you here is exactly as written when it was first published by Oxmoor House in June, 2007.  The recipe came to me on myrecipes.com.  I had the same difficulty with these, and so I've come up with some ideas that might improve it if I make it again in the future.  And I will make it again because Mike loved it!  I liked it too. 

It's quite tasty, and I like that the biscotti are nice and crispy . . . especially nice for dunking in a little cup of espresso.  It's easy to make, requires only a few ingredients, and the combination of orange zest, orange extract, and cranberries make for the most heavenly aroma.  By the way, I couldn't find the orange-flavored cranberries, and so I just used the regular ones.  There is already plenty of orange in the mix.

Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti

6 tablespoons  unsalted butter -- softened
3/4 cup  sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon  grated orange rind
1 1/2 teaspoons  orange extract
2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  table salt
1 cup  orange-flavored sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup  shelled natural salted pistachio nuts -- chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, beating well; beat in orange rind and extract.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.  Stir in cranberries and pistachios.

Divide dough in half.  Using lightly floured hands, shape each portion into a 14" x 2" log.  Place both logs 3" apart on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 28 minutes or until firm to the touch.  Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes.

Cut each log into 1/2-inch diagonal slices with a serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion.  Place slices, cut side down, on baking sheet.  Bake 9 minutes; turn cookies over, and bake 12 more minutes.  Transfer biscotti to wire racks to cool completely.

My notes about the recipe:  As stated earlier, it is difficult to cut the biscotti without having the cookies crack and break apart.  This makes them less than desirable for gift-giving.  These are some tips I've come up with that might help, although I haven't yet tried them myself:

1.  Chop the cranberries and the nuts fairly finely.  The large hunks are difficult to cut through and cause the cookies to break.

2.  When taking the logs out of the oven to cool before slicing them, cover them with a dishtowel so that they cool more slowly.  The sudden change in temperature makes them brittle and the dishtowels will help with this.
 
3.  Try cutting them with a large butcher knife rather than a serrated blade, and do not saw.  Rather, lean into it with body weight and cut straight through.

I can't guarantee that these tips will ameliorate the breakage problem, but it's worth a try.  And, if you're not planning to give them as gifts, it doesn't really matter.  The pieces taste every bit as good as the whole biscotti!  Enjoy!





3 comments from clever and witty friends:

Loretta said...

They do look yummy! Hugs

Becky~ said...

I love cranberry anything,lol.

Lee said...

Looks like a yummy recipe. I love biscotti (which means twice baked) and what I do with my recipes is bake on parchment paper and cut them a little over 1/2 way through the baking process. Then lay on their sides and finish baking. lovely long slices of biscotti for gift giving! thanks for the recipe!