This is a batch of biscotti, which is technically not a cookie at all, but rather a biscuit. However, it has always been part of my Christmas cookie baking timeline whenever the mood hits me to bake Christmas cookies. Did you know that biscotti is the plural form of biscotto? The word biscotto originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning twice-cooked/baked. So there you have the secret of making a batch of biscotti. You make two long loaves of dough, bake them, let them cool a little and then slice them and bake them again. The second bake actually hardens them up a little so that they last a little while longer than a normal cookie does. Their hardness also makes it a favorite for dipping into coffee or tea.
That’s another reason I make them. The holidays at our house see a lot of coffee that is drank on a daily basis. I find it amazing that the people who are older and have the weaker kidneys are usually the ones that ask for the most coffee to drink and a little something to nibble on while drinking. I have not done a scientific test on this factoid as of yet, but I know it would fall out as a solid statement if I did. For each cup poured, many times there is the question “What do you have to dip into this coffee?” Many times they ask this by calling my name and, more than a few times, my name is forgotten and a simple “Hey you!” starts out the request.
The biscotti recipe I always make is filled with cranberries and pistachios. When you look down at the sides of the biscotti, there are little flecks of red (the cranberries) and green (the pistachio nuts). What screams holiday more than bursts of red and green? Here’s how we make the biscotti in our house:
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place cranberries in a small bowl; add boiling water. Let stand until plump, about 15 minutes. Drain, and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low-speed until combined. Mix in cranberries and pistachios.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape each piece into a 16-by-2-inch log, and transfer to prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, flatten logs slightly. Brush beaten egg over surface of the dough logs, and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until logs are slightly firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Transfer logs on parchment paper to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Place logs on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on rack. Bake until firm to touch, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let biscotti cool completely on rack. Biscotti should be kept in an airtight container.
You know you have turned out a great batch when all you hear during “coffee breaks” is the crunch, crunch, crunch of a group of folks gnawing on your cranberry-pistachio biscotti. Thanks for reading about our second cookie made for the season. There will be other posts about our Christmas baking through the big day on December 25. We hope you will come back and “bake” with us. We like the company!! What is your favorite kind of Christmas cookie?