Thursday, February 25, 2010

Biscotti Rustica

What I like best about these biscotti is their sophisticated taste. Imagine a lightly, nutty, crunchy fruitcake.

(makes 36 biscotti)

1-2 oz crystallized ginger
1 c mixed dried fruit (such as currants and golden raisins)
grated zest of one lemon
2 Tbs brandy
¾ c slivered almonds
3½ c flour
¼ c cornmeal
2 c sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
turbinado sugar (see tip below)

1. Chop the crystallized ginger into pea-sized pieces. Combine in a small bowl with the dried fruit, lemon zest, and brandy. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the almonds.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract, reserving an egg white for the glaze.

3. With the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just enough to combine. Avoid the temptation to continue mixing even though the dough seems crumbly. Add the macerated fruit and toasted almonds. Continue mixing until the dough begins to come together in a ball. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

4. Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper.

5. On a lightly floured countertop, shape the rested dough into four equal logs about eight inches long and two inches in diameter. (If the dough is sticky, you can dust it with a little flour, but try to use as little flour as possible.) Flatten each log slightly so that its cross-section is an oval rather than a circle. Place two of the logs on each of the baking sheets.

6. Beat the reserved egg white with a fork. Brush the top of each log with enough beaten white to make it sticky, then sprinkle each with turbinado sugar.

7. Bake the logs until golden brown on the outside and firm in the center, about 30 minutes. (Rotate the sheets every 10-15 minutes to ensure even baking.) Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. Once the logs have cooled, gently slice them crosswise to create biscotti about ¾-inch thick. Return the biscotti to the baking sheets cut-side down and bake for another 20-25 minutes, flipping them and rotating the sheets about halfway through. The biscotti are done when they have turned a rich golden brown on both sides. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the sheets before storing in an airtight container.

• Turbinado sugar, also known as “sugar in the raw,” has large crystals that adhere nicely to the tops of the biscotti. They add a nice sweet crunch, in the same way that large sea salt crystals enhance focaccia.

• These biscotti cut easier if you use a serrated knife.

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