We all have our nighttime rituals. Maybe you go to the gym, get lunches ready for the next day, watch television, or surf the Internet. Our kid’s nighttime ritual involves the usual, getting a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, dancing in front of the mirror, reading a story. Then there is the barrage of questions every night after we’ve tucked them into bed. “Are there any monsters in our house?” “Can I have something to drink?” “Will you tell me when to wake up?” “Why can’t boys have babies?” “How was the first person in the world born?” While we talk with our kids about many things, by the end of the day we are exhausted and these are not always questions we care to delve into at bedtime. My nighttime ritual involves a good book, some Words With Friends, and a hot mug of chamomile tea.
We dunk our biscotti in tea, so why not infuse the same flavors into biscotti. Chamomile tea was the first we experimented with when we starting baking with teas. Now we are hooked and visit tea sites online looking for new flavor combinations. We’ve created a long list of biscotti infused with aromatic teas, including green mango and peach, earl grey, rooibos, and jasmine, among many others.
Part of what strikes us first about the food we eat is the smell. Teas are highly aromatic when warmed in the oven and in many instances the flavor profile is already defined, so deciding what fruit, nut, or other ingredients to add is simple. These Chamomile Pear Biscotti with Almonds have an amazingly sweet floral smell when they come out of the oven. The same warmth is sustained when you first taste them. Dipped in a steaming mug of chamomile tea, these biscotti make a wonderful deviation from a more traditional evening snack of milk and cookies.
Chamomile Pear Biscotti with Almonds
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons loose chamomile tea or the contents of 10 chamomile tea bags
3 eggs and 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup whole almonds
1 cup chopped dried pears
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugars, baking powder, salt, and tea.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla extract.
4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.
5. Add the almonds and dried pears, and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 to 20 times.
6. Separate the dough in half. Form two or three logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes. Firmly press the top of each log with granulated sugar.
7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
8. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
What to do with the ends #10: Put the ends in a plastic container and make some music.