Biscotti is a hard cookie made for dipping into coffee or other hot beverages. They were popularized in America by Starbucks and are becoming commonly available at most upscale coffee shops. I had one last week at a Jamming Java at Branson Landing, and am frequently the beneficiary of gift biscotti at Christmas time from the actress and singer Colleen Shogren, who now lives in Holiday Island. Lucky man, indeed.
The biscotti I got at Jamming Java was indifferent, however, and I thought I could do better. I did, using the flowing recipe that (I think) originated with the marvelous baker Dorie Greenspan:
1 stick butter, soft
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup raisins
In a medium sized bowl whisk the dry ingredients, mixing well.
Using a stand mixer beat the sugar and butter into a creamy mixture--about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the eggs and beat some more until creamy, light and smooth--about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients; add the raisins. Use a spatula to incorporate all the ingredients.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and lower the baking rack. Grease a cookie sheet and place the dough ball on the sheet. Shape the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 4 or 5 inches wide. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes.
Use a sharp knife and cut the biscotti loaf into ¾ inch slices. Separate them--leave the slices standing--and return to the 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and brown.
You can fool around with the ingredients above. By all means substitute almond or rum extract for the vanilla and feel free to swap the raisins for nuts, orange peel, or a combination of them all. Since the idea to bake biscotti came to me while driving through Urbanette--just north of Berryville on Highway 21--they are so named.
Biscotti stores well and can be frozen. You can also dip slices into chocolate for an especially enticing treat. This is an easy recipe to prepare and the ingredients are commonly available.