November 30, 2015

Brown Butter Biscotti

I'm pretty sure most of you are sick of cooking after this weekend, but The Great Fall Baking Marathon of 2015 must continue. I was going to publish this recipe earlier so you can have a steady stream of snacks for your Thanksgiving guests, but I know my kitchen is still recovering. There won't be any space for any more food for at least two more days, which of course means that I have to make a batch of biscotti because I'm only home for a few days and that warrants more food. Luckily, these biscotti are crowd pleasers that people can munch on with coffee, for snacks, and for dessert, and they require minimal effort.

Most biscotti are relatively healthy for a dessert; they have minimal (if any) fat and usually contain some sort of dried fruit or nuts. The moisture in the dough generally comes from eggs, and the dough isn't typically very sweet. These biscotti, however, are brown butter biscotti with no fruit or nuts for bulk. In other words, the main flavor is the brown butter, which means they have plenty of it. Basically, they are my kind of biscotti. I drizzle them with some dark chocolate for flavor, texture, and aesthetic, but honestly the delicate nuttiness from the brown butter is delicious all on its own. 

The most difficult part of this recipe is browning the butter properly. You want to heat the butter in a pan with a large surface area (like a skillet, not a pot) until fragrant. There should be brown bits, but be careful not to burn them. If you do, don't try to salvage the butter by straining the burned bits out because the flavor has already infused throughout all the butter. If you burn it, just throw it out and start over. Eventually, you'll master the skill of browning butter and will be able to use it in everything from chocolate chip cookies to frosting.

Once the butter is browned and cooled, it gets mixed with some sugar until somewhat fluffy. Since the butter is cooled but not solidified, you won't get the same volume as you would if you had creamed softened butter, but biscotti aren't supposed to be fluffy anyway.

The eggs are added one by one (this is very important) to the butter and sugar, along with some vanilla for added flavor. The mixture is pretty wet by now, which is why you'll need to add a fairly substantial amount of flour. I also throw in some baking powder and salt because the biscotti need to rise and salt enhances all the other flavors and cuts the sweetness.

The whole point of biscotti is baking it twice. The first bake involves shaping the dough into loaves and baking them whole. Once the loaves are cooked through and cooled, they are sliced and baked again. The second bake should be long enough to make them crispy (fully crispy, not that weird half-stale texture) but not burnt.  Make sure your slices are uniform and somewhat thin so they cook evenly and are crispy throughout without any soft spots inside.

The final touch is a drizzle of chocolate. You can use dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, that fake chocolate candy coating stuff, or no chocolate. Assuming you have chocolate, time, and lack an aversion to a little extra messiness, I highly recommend it. I prefer dark chocolate because the slight bitterness offsets the sweetness from the biscotti, and the color contrasts nicely with that of the biscotti. These biscotti make great gifts since they last a while and freeze wonderfully, and taking an extra few minutes to make them look even prettier will earn you even more compliments.

12 T Butter

3 1/4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs

12 oz Chocolate, Optional

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisking frequently, cook until the milk solids brown. Quickly pour into the bowl of a stand mixer to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.

Heat oven to 350F and line cookie trays with parchment.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the browned butter and sugar together until combined. Stir in the vanilla and add the eggs one by one. Gradually add the flour mixture.

Shape the dough into two logs and bake until cooked through, about 24 minutes. Set aside to cool, keeping the oven on.

Cut the cooled loaves into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on the cookie trays and bake until crisp, about 20 minutes more, flipping halfway through.

If desired, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and drizzle over the cooled biscotti.

Makes 36

Recipe Adapted from Savory Simple


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