Biscotti Basics

Making biscotti can be a creative process full of improvisation and experimentation.  If you have a few kitchen essentials ready it makes the creative process a bit easier. Most items are things you already have in your kitchen. No need for fancy electric mixers. According to my kids, making biscotti is really like playing with playdough, so get your hands in there!

Whisk – A wire metal whisk combines dry ingredients and also whisks eggs with other wet ingredients. We always prepare and mix the dry ingredients first, so we can then use the same whisk to mix the wet ingredients. Less dirty dishes and that is always a good thing. A fork can also work in a pinch.

Mixing Bowls – A large smooth flat-bottomed mixing bowl that you can spin on the table makes mixing and kneading the dough in the bowl a cinch. Why flour a work surface or rotate the dough, when you can do it all in the bowl! We use a large stainless steel bowl. A smaller round-bottomed bowl for wet ingredients aids in whisking and scraping out the wet ingredients completely. We use a small glass bowl, which we also use as part of a double boiler when melting chocolate.

Measuring Spoons – Measuring spoons are measuring spoons. However, we were given a set of double ended metal measuring spoons as a gift and we love them. We use one end for the wet ingredients and the other for dry. If you have just one set, be sure to mix the dry ingredients first and then the wet.

Measuring Cups – Again, whatever measuring cups you have on hand work just fine. We use stainless steel measuring cups and level dry ingredients off with our fingers or a knife.

Rubber Spatula – A large rubber spatula incorporates the dry and wet ingredients and scrapes down the sides of bowls. We start with a stirring motion and then use the back of the spatula to press and further combine the ingredients before kneading the dough.

Microplane – A microplane is helpful when zesting citrus or grating fresh spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cutting Board – A cutting board provides a space to chop fruits, nuts, herbs, chocolate, or other ingredients, as well as space to slice the biscotti logs. I use a large wooden cutting board that can accommodate the biscotti logs.

Knives – A serrated knife for slicing biscotti and a large straightedge knife for chopping ingredients are essential.

Parchment Paper – Parchment paper keeps the biscotti from sticking to the baking sheet. I use the same sheet of parchment paper for the first and second bake in every recipe. You don’t have to even wash the baking sheet!

Baking Sheet – A baking sheet, 15 inches by 10 inches or larger, allows you to make 2 or 3 logs per sheet, essentially one recipe. If you are doubling the recipe, you will obviously need two baking sheets. We do not use dark coated or nonstick baking sheets, as the bottom and edges of the biscotti logs tend to brown much faster. Although not essential, an additional baking sheet with sides will allow you to roast nuts in the oven.

Timer – A timer obviously ensures you don’t burn the biscotti. Most ovens come with timers, so this is a mute point. However, when you are not in the kitchen it is easy to get caught up in something else, like helping a distraught daughter save a butterfly from the claws of death or mediating a high stakes argument about who really started it, and completely lose track of time. We always set the timer for 5 minutes less than what the recipe states.

Wire Cooling Racks – Wire cooling racks help the biscotti logs cool completely before slicing them. After the second bake, we try to place the biscotti on the racks in a single layer without touching each other.

Storage Containers or Bags – Storage containers or bags ensure that your biscotti will last. We often use storage containers when we’ve topped biscotti with melted chocolate or another topping. The containers allow us to put a sheet of parchment paper in between the layers of biscotti to keep them from sticking. Otherwise, we generally store biscotti in zippered storage or freezer bags. Biscotti can be stored for up to a month on the counter or up to six months in the freezer, although ours hardly ever last that long.

Notebook and Pen – A notebook and pen for writing down recipes ensures you can make that perfect biscotti that everyone is raving about over and over again! You may prefer to type your creations directly onto a computer, but hands, feet, and chairs are always flying around our kitchen and I worry we would go through computers like we go through parchment paper.

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