Tag Archives: cookies

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti 1Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti

At a friend’s annual New Year’s Day party this year, a fellow guest asked me about why it’s so difficult to replicate restaurant dishes at home.  There’s several reasons why this might be true, I replied.  Having your own prep team to make stocks and sauces and pulling together mise en place is one aspect.  Another is the access to top-notch ingredients.  Still another is that restaurant recipes are scaled for service, and when they are modified for home cooking, sometimes they just don’t work.  Case in point, are these Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti that I brought to that same party.

Original RecipeOriginal biscotti recipe

I was given this recipe when I was a culinary student at the International Culinary Center, working at L’Ecole.  The then-Pastry Chef rattled it off to me one night just before the start of our (the students’) part of service.  What I’d liked about these biscotti when I’d snacked on them one night was that they weren’t too sweet.  They also had a nice crunch to the outside and a firm texture on the inside, without that teeth-shattering consistency of some Italian-style confections.  In looking at the proportions on this card, it shows that making the recipe using these ratios would yield a lot of cookies.

Re-scaled recipeRe-scaled recipe

There’s also the issue of measurements.  The original recipe has a mixture of pounds, grams, cups, teaspoons, a real mish-mash of amounts.  Truthfully, this isn’t all that uncommon in restaurant chef recipes either, which is another reason that trying to scale them to work in a home kitchen doesn’t always produce the same results.  Still, I was hoping that my math skills and baking knowledge would enable me to wing it through this recipe, as it was my contribution to the party, along with a bottle of Ronnybrook Farm‘s fabulous, seasonal eggnog.

Wet ingredients mixed togetherWet ingredients mixed together

So, I divided the amounts by eight, basing that on the quantity of eggs and flour, as that seemed easy enough to do.  It got a little tricky when I tried to scale down the 1.5 pounds of butter, but I think I got it right.  As the only actual directions on the card said to use the creaming method, I mixed the softened butter and sugar together and then added the eggs.

Dry ingredients mixed togetherDry ingredients mixed together

Then, I mixed together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  I gradually added the flour mixture to the egg mixture.  The combination ended up being much drier than I’d expected it to be.  I’ve only ever made biscotti once, and that was a while ago, so I was still a bit skeptical that this was going to turn out all right.  I tossed in the chocolate chips (actually a chopped up chocolate bar) and the pistachios and formed the batter into two logs that were sort of biscotti-shaped.

Dough prepared for ovenDough ready for the oven

The only other instructions on the card were the baking temperatures and times.  I baked one of these loaves intact the entire time.  The other one, I cut into pieces after the first baking.  In the past, I’d remembered in making biscotti and mandelbrot that before the second time in the oven, the loaves had been sliced into cookies.

Baking two waysBaking biscotti two ways

Turns out that, in this case, I didn’t really need to do that step at all.  The dough was very soft when I’d cut into it.  Waiting until after all the baking cycles were done proved to make it easier to handle the loaves and to make more evenly-sized cookies.  I let the biscotti cool on the baking sheet on the stove top, letting the carry-over cooking dry them out just enough to give them that crunchy factor.  I made these the evening before the party, and they held up very well.

BIscotti out of the ovenBiscotti cooling

They were very well-received at the party, both in taste and texture.  The host agreed with me that they could have been just a hair sweeter and that maybe the cocoa powder that I used wasn’t exactly right.  I’d thought about going the Dutch-processed route, but stuck with a more general variety.  The fun thing about playing around with recipes is that there’s always the next time to try to make it better.

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti

Prep Time: about 1 hour

Portion Size: about 2 dozen biscotti

Ingredients:

3 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened

1 c. White Sugar

2 Large Eggs

2 c. AP Flour

1/2 c. Cocoa Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 c. Pistachios, shelled

1/2 c. Chocolate Chips (or chopped chocolate bar)

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Whip butter and sugar together until smooth and light in color.  Add the eggs and beat into the sugar mixture until thoroughly incorporated.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir to mix together.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and incorporate completely.  The dough will be quite dense.  Add in the chocolate and pistachios and fold them into the batter as best you can.

On a parchment-lined baking tray, form the batter into two biscotti-shaped logs.  Bake them for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the biscotti for 12 minutes.  Rotate the baking tray and bake them for another 12 minutes.

Remove the baking tray from the oven.  Cut the biscotti logs into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices and let them cool on the baking tray for 10-15 minutes.  Eat them within a couple of days, if they last that long.

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti 2Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti

Buon appetito!

Cookies for Kids Cancer #50States4Kids

Baking CookiesBaking cookies as a study break in college

Happy September!  Aside from being a back-to-school month (well, for those who didn’t start school in August, anyway), it is also a sort of turn-over-a-new-leaf month and a let’s-start-afresh month with various projects.  It’s also a wonderful month, now that we’re heading into cooler weather, to whip up a batch of homemade cookies.  Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is encouraging everyone to do just that to call awareness to and raise funds to fight childhood cancers.

Peanut Butter CrisscrossesPeanut-Butter Crisscrosses – a childhood favorite of mine

I’ve made (and eaten) cookies for most of my life, with my mother leading the charge as an avid baker.  I think one of my earliest cooking memories is of coming home from school and seeing my mom cutting out cookies with one of my younger siblings.  It was probably not until I was about 10 or so years old that I even ate my first store-bought cookie.  When she was still able, we re-created that same memory with a couple of my nieces, even using the same rolling pin that I had used as a child, one that belonged to my mother’s mother, and possibly even to her grandmother.  Cookies are really a family favorite, as my brother mentions in C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me…,” his story about secretly consuming Girl Scout cookies as a child.

White Chocolate-Cranberry-Macadamia Nut cookiesWhite Chocolate-Cranberry-Macademia Nut Cookies from Cookies For Kids’ Cancer cookie swap

Cookies have a more personal connection for me, however, in this case.  As I mentioned a few years ago, when I took part in a cookie swap and fund raiser for this organization, this is a cause that is very close to home for me.  One of my little nephews was diagnosed with a form of leukemia when he was just a little over three years old.  For the past three-plus years, he’s been waging a rocky battle against the disease.  He’s had allergic reactions to the medications and to some of the chemotherapy, even spending his most recent birthday in the hospital due to one.  I jump every time my sister calls me, hoping that it is not news I am dreading to hear.  At this point, he’s in his last stages of treatment, and, then, we get to hang on for a few years, keeping our fingers crossed that he says in remission.  We will be holding our breath that he beats this disease for good.

Millionaires Shortbread squareMillionaire’s Shortbread – another cookie swap contribution

There’s several brands who are supporting this project, too, helping to spread the word about Childhood Cancer Awareness MonthCookies for Kids’ Cancer is hoping that everyone can join forces to cost cookie swaps or to send cookies to family and friends as a way of raising money for and showing support for increased funding for research and remedies for the cancers that take the lives of children each year.  Some of these treatments have definitely helped my nephew in his battle, but we all know that there’s still a ways to go.  If you can, I encourage you to help out in any way you can with this initiative during the month of September.  Here’s a few more links (aside from those in the photos above) to some of the cookie recipes on this website to give you a few ideas for what to make.

Almond Butter SticksAlmond Butter Sticks – a family favorite

Chocolate Chocolate Chip CookiesChocolate Cookies with Chocolate Chunks – for your chocoholic friends

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate & PeppermintChocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle – o.k., these are kinda fancy, but I did make them for last year’s holiday cookie swap

Chocolate-chip cookies with Sea SaltChocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt – one of my friend’s favorite of all the cookies that I make
ShortbreadClassic English Shortbread – perfect for teatime or anytime (especially, if you can find some late-season strawberries)
Magic Cookie BarsMagic Cookie Bars (aka Seven Layer Bars) – a favorite of one of my ex-bosses and perfect for potlucks and picnics

Parmesan Shorbread RoundsParmesan Shortbread Rounds – Who says that all cookies have to be sweet?  These are perfect for your next cocktail or dinner party.

Buon appetito!