House Biscotti

biscotti

This is a recipe near and dear to my heart. I first made biscotti soon after getting married, in our tiny basement kitchen oven. It’s a very simple recipe that can be easily adapted to your preferences. David often brings a batch of them to work for quick breakfasts / snacks (they keep really, really well), and now some of his co-workers come looking for them as well. 😉

I recently made a batch with Marcus for the first time. He loved using a whisk and dumping all the mix-ins in…and, of course, eating the crumbs off the tray.

stir biscotti

biscotti logs unbaked

biscotti log sliced

A few notes:

  • The dough should be fairly stiff and you shouldn’t need any additional flour to shape it into logs. If it’s sticky, just pop it in the fridge for a few minutes before shaping.
  • The trickiest part of making biscotti is cutting them. I find it’s all about the timing — you want the biscotti logs to be cool enough to handle, but not completely cold or they’ll be more likely to crumble. Twenty minutes after the first bake is usually the sweet spot for me.
  • This recipe is very adaptable. My personal favorite flavor combination is below, but as long as you keep the add-ins to ~1 1/2 to 2 cups you should be able to swap in your choice of nuts/fruits/chocolate/seeds and even jazz up the spices if you want.

House Biscotti

Makes 3-4 dozen biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 3 large eggs, straight from the fridge
  • 200g (1 c) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp almond extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 400g (3 1/4 c) AP flour (I have swapped out 50% of the flour for sifted whole wheat flour with good results)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 85g (1/2 c) dark chocolate chips
  • 75g (1/2 c) raisins
  • 140g (1 c) toasted and chopped almonds
  • Handful of flax seeds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat (if your baking sheets are small, use two).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, and extracts until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently combine.
  4. When the dry ingredients are almost fully incorporated, mix in the chocolate chips, raisins, and almonds. Stir just until everything is combined and there are no streaks of flour remaining. If the mixture is sticky, cover the bowl with plastic and chill for ~15 minutes before proceeding.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Working with one part at a time, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and pat into logs about 1/2 an inch thick. Leave at least 3 inches between the two logs as they will spread a little.
  6. Bake until the tops are lightly golden, firm, and beginning to crack – about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool for about 20-30 minutes, or until the logs are cool enough to handle but still slightly warm.
  7. Use a large offset spatula to transfer one log at a time to a cutting board. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice each log crosswise into ~1/2″ logs. (I find it easiest to just press down firmly with the knife rather than saw.) Place the cookies back on the baking sheet(s) cut side up and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. (You can flip the cookies over halfway through baking, but I usually don’t bother.)
  8. Cool completely on a wire rack (cookies will crisp us as they cool). Serve biscotti with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Leftovers store well for weeks in an airtight container.

Three years, and Everyday Chocolate Chunk Cookies

chocolate chunk cookiesHappy New Year, folks. We’re in Seattle visiting my family for a couple weeks. Despite a long travel day due to weather, we got to wake up to a white Christmas — possibly my first ever! All of my brothers eventually made it in town and we spent the day opening gifts, eating our fill of prime rib and cookies, watching Marcus race his new fire engine toy all over the house, and falling asleep to “Jingle All the Way.” So basically, a perfect Christmas. Since then, we’ve been keeping it pretty low key — catching up with old friends, trying old and new coffee shops and bakeries, and going to sleep long before midnight.

And guess what? Cook Til Delicious is turning three years old! I’ve never celebrated this blog’s birthday before because I’m generally too lazy to blog while on vacation. But in reality, CTD was started as sort of a new year’s resolution to document recipes and become a better baker. When we first started out here, I had never made a layer cake, let alone a wedding cake; I had yet to bake a good sourdough loaf, choux pastry was far out on the horizon, and I didn’t own a tart pan. My to-bake list is still a mile long, but progress has been made — one bake at a time.

One of the things I’ve been focusing on more this past year (and hopefully into the next) is building a library of solid “base” recipes — go-to scones, everyday brownies, and the like. And, of course, chocolate chunk cookies.

I definitely believe in different recipes for different occasions. My “special occasion” chocolate chunk cookie is a riff on Sarah Kieffer’s now-famous pan-banging chocolate chip cookie recipe. But this recipe here is my everyday go-to. You don’t need to soften butter, and you don’t need a mixer. This is the recipe I turn to when I want to make cookies for a crowd (I actually made dozens of these for my brother’s wedding), or just need to refill the cookie jar at home.

Notes:

  • For the gooiest, chocolatiest cookies, I definitely recommend using chocolate callets or chopping up chocolate bars — unlike chocolate chips, they melt into puddles, which is definitely a good thing. I like Callebaut 70%, but I often just use good quality chocolate bars.
  • I love experimenting with different flours in this recipe. My favorite combination is to use 1/3 AP flour, 1/3 spelt flour, and 1/3 bread flour — the spelt adds some wholesome nuttiness and the bread provides height and chew. But all AP definitely works, if that’s what you have on hand — the cookies will just be flatter.
  • I love subbing a little bit of turbinado sugar for some of the brown — it adds a delightful crunch (I learned this from Not Without Salt’s recipe, which I also love.); espresso powder or finely ground coffee adds a slight bitterness that offsets the sweetness beautifully.
  • If you keep the total add-ins to ~240-300 grams, you can certainly make this cookie your own by adding in toasted nuts, dried fruit, toffee bits, etc. The base itself is plenty sweet so I sometimes cut both the sugars by a couple tablespoons if I am adding sweeter add-ins, or just feel like being slightly healthier.

Everyday Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 26-28 cookies | Adapted from Tara O’Brady, with a HT to Not Without Salt

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 415g all-purpose flour (see note above)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder, or very finely ground coffee (optional)
  • 300g light brown sugar (optional: swap out 50g for turbinado sugar)
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 240g chopped semi or bittersweet chocolate (I recommend at least 55%)
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder/coffee (if using). Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, stirring occasionally. Use the lowest heat possible — you don’t want to boil or brown the butter or lose any more moisture than necessary.
  3. Pour the melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar all at once and whisk until combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to combine. Whisk in vanilla.
  4. Pour in the dry ingredients and stir to combine, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. When the flour is almost all incorporated, stir in the chocolate. Mix only enough to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl and scooping from the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated.
  5. Chill the mixture for five minutes while you line three cookie sheets with parchment or Silpats.
  6. Portion cookie dough into golf ball-sized rounds (~50 grams or 3 Tbsp) and place on prepared cookie sheets (I can fit 9 cookies on a normal sized cookie sheet). Sprinkle with flaky salt.
  7. Place cookie sheets in the freezer and preheat the oven to 360F (yes, 360!) with an oven rack in the middle. If you don’t have enough room in your freezer for all three sheets, put all the pre-shaped cookies on one sheet and remove 9 at a time to bake, using a cold/room temperature sheet for each batch.
  8. Bake each sheet one at a time for ~10 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cookies should be lightly golden and cracked, but still soft in the center.
  9. Sprinkle on a little more flaky salt, if desired (I like to sprinkle some on any large chocolate puddles), and allow to cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies keep well for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Matcha Mint Oreos


Matcha mint Oreos! I’m pretty excited about these cookies, because homemade Oreos have been on my baking bucket list for awhile now. I’ve tried a few different recipes in the past, but none of them really did it for me. But the base recipe for these Oreos comes from Stella Park’s fantastic book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, and they are the real deal. Bake a batch of these and your house will smell like an Oreo factory.

For a festive twist, I decided to go with a matcha mint filling, inspired by the perennially popular Candy Cane Joe Joe’s from my favorite grocery store not in Canada (sad face). I added matcha mostly for color, but its earthy flavor also tempers the sweetness from the candy canes.

matcha mint oreos

A few notes:

  • When making the wafers, I find it easiest to roll the dough to the desired thinness right after mixing. Divide the dough in half and roll each half between two sheets of parchment paper. Stick the rolled out dough in the fridge for about half an hour just to firm it up, then cut your rounds. This way, you don’t have to use any extra cocoa powder for rolling and you can use the parchment to line your sheet pans.
  • Make and completely cool your wafers before making the filling, as the filling sets quickly and must be used right after mixing. (The wafers keep really well, so you can definitely make this recipe over a couple of days.)
  • Crush your peppermint candies really finely. Otherwise your piping tip will get clogged when you fill the cookies and it’ll be hard to get your cookies to lie flat. Also, someone could break a tooth.
  • Matcha powders vary quite a bit in potency. I liked how my filling tasted with 1 Tbsp, but if you’re unsure start with less and add more to taste. You can also omit the peppermint extract if you want a more prominent matcha flavor.

Matcha Mint Oreos

Adapted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts | Makes about 20 2-inch sandwich cookies

Ingredients

For the Oreo wafers:

  • One batch of this recipe, cut into 2-inch rounds and completely cooled

For the matcha mint filling:

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 240g powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp matcha powder
  • 1/3 c finely crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Method

For the matcha mint filling:

  1. Before making the filling, flip half the chocolate wafers upside down so they can be filled immediately after preparing the filling.
  2. Sift the matcha powder and icing sugar together and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, completely melt butter over medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring with a heat-resistant spatula, while butter hisses and pops; if you notice brown bits forming along the edges, reduce heat to low. Continue cooking and stirring until butter falls silent, then strain into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the peppermint extract and salt, followed by powdered sugar and matcha. Mix on low to moisten, then increase to medium and beat until creamy and soft, about 5 minutes. If your filling is runny, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to stiffen slightly (this should only take a few minutes). Stir in the peppermint candies. Transfer to a heavy-duty pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip and use immediately.

To assemble:

  • Pipe about a tablespoon of filling onto each upturned wafer, then sandwich with the remaining halves. Gently twist the cookies to evenly distribute the filling. Allow cookies to set for about half an hour before serving. Store leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container. They keep well at room temperature for about a week. (For longer storage, keep in refrigerator or freezer; serve at room temperature.)

Matcha Mint Oreo stack

Granola Biscotti

Granola biscotti
A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to receive a copy of Deb Perelman’s new cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. I’ve been reading Smitten Kitchen for…well, probably about as long as it’s existed. In an internet now overloaded with food blogs (sorry, not sorry) it’s one of the few that I still enjoy reading regularly. Deb’s clear and candid writing style is a breath of fresh air, and her recipes strike that rare balance between “stuff I want to attempt” and “stuff I’ll actually make.” (Her hidden kid pictures are a genius touch as well.) Can you tell I’m a fangirl? OK, moving on now.

While there are plenty of recipes that caught my eye (hello pretzel linzers with salted caramel and chicken and rice, street cart style!), I knew right away that granola biscotti would be the first I’d tackle because 1) we’d just run out of granola, 2) my 2-year old asks for “two cookies, please” most days (yes, he’s very specific about the “two” and no, he doesn’t always get them) and 3) previously mentioned 2-year-old is also obsessed with “helping” in the kitchen. (Recipes with lots of add-ins are perfect for little helpers, because they get to dump lots of things in bowls.) These have been a hit with the big and little people alike, and I can personally vouch that they’re equally good dunked in coffee or dipped in yogurt.

Smitten Kitchen cookbook with biscotti

As Deb notes, these biscotti are very tweakable. I’ve included the recipe here as it appears in the book and my own substitutions in brackets. Also, I think these would make great Christmas cookie gifts — perhaps dunked or drizzled with chocolate. You can make these biscotti ahead of time as they keep very well, always a plus at this time of year.

A couple of notes:

  • While I love butter and never shy away from it in baking, I used grapeseed oil because I prefer the texture of oil-based biscotti (they’re generally crisper and less crumbly than butter-based).
  • I also like my biscotti bakery-style (i.e. long), so I made mine bigger than indicated and got 24 instead of 36.
  • Slicing biscotti can be tricky business. If the logs are either too warm or too cold, they tend to crumble rather than cut. I have the best success when I cut them when they’re still slightly warm and push down (not saw) firmly with a sharp, serrated knife.

Granola biscotti 2

Granola Biscotti

Makes 36 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface [I used half spelt flour by weight]
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (130 grams) rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted, or virgin coconut oil, warmed until liquefied [I substituted 64g grapeseed oil]
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated or raw (turbinado) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) light- or dark-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) [I also added 1/2 tsp almond extract]
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) thinly sliced almonds [I used whole almonds, roughly chopped]
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup (about 150 grams) dried fruit of your choice, such as raisins, cranberries, cherries, or chopped dried apricots or figs, or a mix thereof
  • 1 egg white [I omitted this]

Method

  1. Mix the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk the melted butter and sugars in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, nuts, coconut, and dried fruit. Expect a stiff batter.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. On a floured counter, using floured hands roll half the dough into a log a little shy of the length of your baking sheet, 12 to 14 inches. Transfer the dough log to the baking sheet, and pat lightly until it becomes more oval- shaped. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Beat the egg white until foamy, and brush it over logs. Bake the logs for 20 minutes, until they are lightly golden brown and beginning to form cracks.
  4. Let cool almost completely (it’s okay if the centers are still lukewarm), about 1 hour. With a serrated knife, cut the logs on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices. They will be crumbly; cut as gently as possible. Transfer the slices back to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and lay flat in a single layer. Bake for another 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. (If you like, you can flip them halfway for more even browning, but you will have good color on them either way.)
  5. Cool the biscotti on the baking sheet, or transfer to a rack.

Note: This recipe should prove very tweakable; you could use cinnamon, or almond extract, add citrus zest, vary the fruits and sweeteners. You could swap half the flour for whole wheat or even oat flour. Or you could add some chocolate chips. Who could blame you?

Do ahead: Biscotti keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, and longer if well wrapped in the freezer.

Excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. Text and photographs copyright © 2017 Deb Perelman. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.