Orange Anise Biscotti with White Chocolate Tips on Cutting
I'll let you in on a little secret: biscotti is actually absurdly easy to make. This was a dangerous revelation for me because going to the store to buy them was the only thing standing between me and regular delightful biscotti consumption. But now I carry that heavy knowledge with me. With just a little bit of time and a little bit of effort, and a tiny touch of knife skills, I can whip up drool-worthy biscotti with ingredients I always have hanging around the house.
Sigh. You can see where this is going right? So now is when I'll publicly confess that I have made no fewer than seven different kinds of biscotti in the last month. That's right, I have been on what can only be described as a biscotti bender.
My husband proclaimed this batch "The best...yet." They are wonderful because they are an homage to the essential, traditional anise flavor of biscotti, but the use of orange adds a nice citrus twist on the more conventional lemon. And while these certainly won't compete with broccoli for the title of "wonderfood," I have experimented and tinkered my way into a biscotti recipe that maximizes some hidden goodness (nutty flax seed) and reduces the sugar and butter to a level that provides the greatest satisfaction, flavor and texture without busting your waistline.
Makes 16 biscotti
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoon ground flax meal
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter (salted), melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
zest from one orange (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Optional topping: 2 squares of White Chocolate (I recommend Godiva or some other high quality white chocolate, because poor quality white chocolates do not melt well)
Preheat the oven to 350F
In a small skillet on the stove-top, toast the anise seeds until fragrant. Remove from skillet into mortar and pestle and crush seeds. You may also crush the seeds with a meat tenderizing mallet or a spice grinder.
Melt butter in microwave or stove and set aside to cool.
Combine all the flour, baking powder and flax in a medium bowl. Toss or sift to combine well. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, zest and anise seed. Mix well to combine and infuse the zest throughout the sugar.
Lightly beat the egg and combine the egg, almond extract, and cooled melted butter with the sugar. Mix to combine.
Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Mix until well combined. I prefer to mix at this stage with my hands, turning the dough over to incorporate the dry ingredients.
Roll the dough into a log approximately 12 inches long. I like to press in the ends of the log a little more square so that the two biscotti cut out of the ends will not be shortchanged on volume.
Put the log onto a well seasoned baking stone or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the top of the log so that it is less spherical and more like an oval from the side.
Bake on the center rack until golden, about 30-35 minutes. When you gently press the top of the log, it should not give way easily, it should be somewhat firm and resistant. Remove from oven to cool for 5-7 minutes.
Up to this point, biscotti are actually remarkably easy to make. Dreamy. In my opinion the only technical challenge to making them is successfully cutting them.
And if it crumbles I recommend you grin broadly and eat the part that fell off. It is the delicious reward of being the chef.
I like to get 16 servings out of my loaf, so I make a center cut, then gently subdivide each half again, giving me guidelines for where the loaf will be cut into quarters. Then, working from the center cut out, I gently make three cuts per quarter (for four total biscotti per quarter) all about 1/2 inch apart. This method will help you get the desired number of servings out of your loaf, which is particularly helpful if you are watching your waistline.
Separate the biscotti on the stone so there is room for air to circulate. Instead of cooking them for several minutes on each side and flipping in between, I recommend that you sit the biscotti up so that both of the newly cut sides are exposed to air (see photo below). Return them to the oven and bake 12-16 minutes, or until sides are firm to the touch and the tops are not overly browned.
Remove to a wire rack to cool. When biscotti are cooled, carefully melt 2 squares of good quality white chocolate according to package directions. I recommend 30 seconds in a small dish in the microwave. Stir melted chocolate to smooth. Using a silicone brush or your finger, paint a small amount of white chocolate on the top of each biscotti. Two squares should be enough to allow a small taste of white chocolate on each. If you prefer a more generous portion of white chocolate, consider painting only part of the 16 biscotti, or use three squares of white chocolate.
Orange Anise Biscotti with White Chocolateby The Skinny Gourmet (E. McDonnell)
Tips on CuttingUsing a serrated knife, such as a high quality bread knife, cut gently through the center of the loaf. I recommend you first drag the knife gently but with some pressure across the top of the loaf. Cutting through the top is rarely problematic: it is the sides that are likely to crumble. When it comes time to cut through the sides and down to the baking stone, instead of cutting back and forth like a saw, gently cut in from the sides towards the center of the loaf, repeating so that you always cut "in" rather than "out." It may also help to hold a finger or two on the loaf next to the cut to help the sides stay in place.