1. Reading the ENTIRE recipe
- We once bought my father-in-law, a very good humored guy, a t-shirt that we first saw on a 90 something year old man shuffling down the sidewalk at a festival in Baltimore’s Little Italy. It read, “At my age getting lucky is finding my car in the parking lot.” While we may not all be in our 90s, sometimes we forget to add an ingredient when we are embedded in the creative process or simply forget that we used all the eggs for breakfast. So be sure to read the entire recipe and get all your ingredients out before you start baking. And, just hope you are still driving at 90!
2. Preparing Ingredients
- There are a variety of methods for crushing candy or chopping nuts. My son favors the flat side of the meat tenderizer for “chopping” nuts in a plastic storage bag. A large knife or hand chopper will also do the job.
- We are big snackers in our house, so many of our biscotti start with flavored nuts or seeds that we’ve bought or made ourselves. The next time you are thinking about creating a recipe, think about how you might be able to use flavored nuts or seeds to add a dimension of flavor.
- When chopping or dicing dried fruits, which tend to be somewhat sticky, we spray the knife with a non-stick cooking spray to keep it from tearing rather than chopping the ingredients. We also spray measuring spoons and cups with a non-stick spray when measuring out sticky ingredients like honey or agave.
- If you are using liquor and dried fruits in your recipe, consider soaking the dried fruits in the liquor for 30 minutes to add a depth of flavor. Then add the liquor to the other wet ingredients and incorporate the dried fruits with the other add-ins.
- The ration of dry ingredients to wet ingredients is one aspect of a recipe that affects the crispiness or hardness of biscotti. One egg per one cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of liquor per one cup of flour are general guidelines to adhere to when creating your own biscotti. But, do experiment!
3. Mixing Dough
- We use a metal whisk to mix both the wet and dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients first, so you can use the same whisk for the wet ingredients.
- The back of the rubber spatula, in a pressing and dragging motion is good for mixing the wet and dry ingredients as much as possible before getting your hands in there.
- Big chunks of nuts, candies, or other ingredients can make it difficult to thoroughly combine the dough. So be sure to incorporate the add-ins at the very end, after you established the consistency of the dough.
4. Kneading Dough
- We mix everything on the counter, where the ingredients are close at hand. But when we knead the dough, we always take the bowl, flour, and add-ins to the kitchen table. It’s lower and allows us to put our full weight into kneading. I’m only 5 foot 2 inches, which warranted some wonderful nicknames in high school, so a lower table makes all the difference. The kids stand on chairs around the table. Although after a recent trip to the emergency room which resulted in stitches, I am starting to rethink this advice.
5. Finishing Biscotti Logs
- How you top the biscotti logs before you put them in the oven will affect the appearance and the crispiness of the finished biscotti. If it is the first time we are making a recipe, we will make three logs and top each one in a different way. For example, we leave one log plain, finish another with an egg wash and sprinkle it with sugar, and drizzle the last one with agave or honey. It will affect the look of the biscotti and also the taste.
6. Baking Biscotti
- Oven temperatures vary, so always set the timer for 5 minutes before the recommended baking time.
- Biscotti logs will spread as they bake. So be sure to place the logs at least 3 inches apart on the baking sheet.
- The hardness of biscotti also depends on the baking time. The standard time and temperature for baking biscotti is 350 degrees for 30 minutes, with 20 additional minutes for the second bake, 10 minutes on each side. However, if you find that the biscotti are not burning and you would prefer a crispier biscotti, leave them in for an additional 10 minutes or so on the second bake.
7. Cooling and Slicing Biscotti
- Allow the biscotti logs to cool and set before moving them to the cooling racks. If you try to pick up a biscotti log straight out of the oven, there is a good chance the log may break in half at the center and fall apart.
- Different recipes specify different times regarding how long you should let the logs cool, either completely or to the touch, before slicing and putting the logs back in the oven for the second bake. If there are whole almonds or other large chunks of add-ins, it is best to let the logs cool completely before slicing them and baking them a second time. As the knife tries to cut through the harder ingredients like an almond, the logs tend to tear or crumble if the dough is too soft.
- When slicing biscotti with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or any other kind of ingredient that can melt when baked, know that if you slice the biscotti while they are still warm, the chocolate or other ingredient may smear across the surface. If you are concerned only with the taste of the biscotti, then it certainly doesn’t matter. However, if you are concerned with the appearance of the biscotti you might want to wait until the biscotti are completely cooled before slicing. Even then, use a damp rag to wipe your knife in between slices.
- When slicing biscotti always use a segregated knife. You can slice biscotti diagonally for longer biscotti or you slight straight across for shorter biscotti.
8. Storing Biscotti
- Because we use no butter or oil in our biscotti, they will last for a month on the counter or up to 6 months in the freezer.
9. Reheating Biscotti
- If you stored biscotti in the freezer or they have been on the counter for some time and just need to be “recrisped,” place them on a parchment lined baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. However, we would not recommend reheating biscotti if they are covered in chocolate.