The following 101, featuring an easy biscotti recipe, comes from HOMEGROWN and Farm Aid's current Northeastern University co-op student, Amanda Hoover. If she can whip up something this good up now, we can’t wait to see what kind of sweet things are in store for the third-year journalism major's future. Thanks, Amanda, and please keep cooking up more great ideas!
Caution: If you’re a lover of ooey-gooey cookies, this might not be the 101 for you. If you’re a fan of crispy, crunchy cookies, read on.
The Italian word biscotti directly translates to “twice baked.” Although Italians now use it to refer to a variety of cookies, when we say it here in the United States, we’re talking about the oblong, rock-hard cookie-biscuits born in Tuscany. Italians originally made the dry cookies because they lasted longer than other varieties, but biscotti is such a tasty tradition, it remains popular today.
As with many Italian foods, biscotti leaped across the Atlantic and became a mass-manufactured treat here in America. My grandmother, however, has been making the cinnamon-cranberry variety below since long before the trend took off. (That's the two of us in the photo, below right.)
I can’t remember a morning in her house when I didn’t hear the coffee maker bubbling or the teakettle screeching, and she would often have homemade biscotti on hand for dunking. Here’s her easy recipe.
» ¾ cup organic sugar
» ¾ cup organic brown sugar
» 2 cups organic flour
» pinch of cinnamon
» 1 tsp baking powder
» 3 Tbsp organic butter, softened
» 2 organic eggs
» 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract (Make your own!)
» 2 cups organic cranberries
WHAT TO DO
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put the sugars, butter, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, combine until well blended.
3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl then add the vanilla and whisk until it’s thoroughly mixed in.
4. Pour the egg and vanilla mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and combine the two. This will create a thick dough you can easily mold with your hands.
5. Next add in the cranberries. It’s easiest here to use your hands to disperse them evenly.
6. Roll the dough into two logs, about 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. When baking, these logs will expand an inch or so on either side, so I find it easiest to bake them on separate sheets. Be sure to grease the baking sheets or use parchment paper to prevent the biscotti from sticking.
7. Place the logs in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until hard. The nature of these cookies means they take much longer to bake than your average chocolate chip variety, so don’t be startled by the bake time.
8. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes before slicing them horizontally into pieces about an inch thick. If you wait too long, they’ll be difficult to cut and more likely to break.
9. Now it’s time for the definitive “twice baked” part. Lay the slices back on the baking sheets with the cut side facing upward. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and rebake the pieces for 5 to 10 minutes more, until they reach your ideal crunchiness. Less time equals less crunchy; more time means maximum crunchy.
10. Once the cookies cool, brew some coffee, dunk, and enjoy!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
Got a question for Amanda or another favorite ingredient to spice up your biscotti? Post it below and keep the discussion rolling! You might also check out Amanda's 101s on homemade peanut butter cups and homemade nutella. If you're looking for something to dunk your biscotti in, don't miss the 101s on homemade chai tea concentrate, roasting coffee beans at home, and brewing your own dandelion coffee. Home bakers might also be interested in 101s on cultured butter, chocolate syrup, extracts (think vanilla and peppermint), sweetened condensed milk, cronuts, and pop tarts. You can always find more things to cook, preserve, plant, grow, make, craft, and dip in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
ALL PHOTOS: AMANDA HOOVER