Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cranberry and Almond Biscotti

My love of biscotti started when I moved to New York City in August 2012.  After visiting the city once before, I knew, like many do, that I needed to live in the vibrant bustle of NYC for longer than a few weeks in hotels.  So I packed my bags and jetted off for 6 months to explore what the city had to offer.

After 2 weeks of settling in, sipping American coffee (often out of a Starbucks mug) and navigating the subway it was time to start finding my local coffee shop.  Luckily enough for me I lived right near 9th Avenue's famous Restaurant Row - a strip of about 30 blocks filled with every cuisine imaginable.  The two closest coffee shops just happened to provide me with all the comforts I needed.  One specialising in amazing flavoured ice cream and the other in traditional biscotti and both serving soy cappuccinos that satisfied this Aussie coffee snob's caffeine addiction.

And so the affair began...with just one little cheeky biscotti with my morning coffee.  Which slowly turned into two.. three, I'll take one home for later.. four, I'll have a little picnic in the park... and then before I knew it I was buying half-pound bags to fill my Christmas stocking and keep me company over the long cold wintery nights.

So on returning to Australia I had to perfect this amazing under-rated biscuit and hold off the cravings that I now had for this little baked goodie.  Armed with a (now) expert tasting palate I set about making my own.  And this twist on a traditional biscuit for me, takes me back to the little cafe on a side street of NYC.

150g dried cranberries
½ cup cointreux or amaretto liqueur
3 cup plain flour, plus more if needed.
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 tbs (55g) butter
1 cup (225g) raw sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp almond essence
1 tbs vanilla extract
¾ cup (110g) blanched almonds chopped
3 tablespoons raw sugar

  • Preheat oven to 160-170°C.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Heat dried cranberries in liqueur in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until cranberries have softened, approximately 6 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium mixing bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and raw sugar in a large mixing bowl on a medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add 3 eggs one at a time. Add the almond essence and vanilla extract.  Add flour mixture in two batches with a wooden spoon.
  • Stir in cranberries and roughly chopped almonds.
  • On a lightly floured surface, halve dough.  Shape each half into a 30cm by 5cm log.  Flatten logs to 2cm thick.  Transfer to baking trays.  Brush logs with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, rotating trays halfway through.  Transfer to wire racks to cool for about 20 minutes.  Reduce oven to 150°C.
  • Cut logs diagonally into 16 to 18 pieces using a corrugated knife (I find a bread knife works perfectly).  I like the biscotti when it is thick and chunky, however, you can cut as thinly as a 1cm.  Bake for 8 minutes; flip and bake for a further 8 minutes.  Let cool until crisp.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. Enjoy!

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