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Crispy Pancetta Biscotti

Crispy Pancetta Biscotti

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Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with the oil.

Put the pancetta in a cold cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet and set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the pancetta begins to sizzle. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring a few times, for about 10 minutes, or until the pancetta has rendered some of its fat and is crisp. Turn the heat to low if necessary to keep the pancetta from burning. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta pieces to a paper towel–lined plate to cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat.

Combine the flour, baking powder, pepper, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, almonds, and cooled pancetta and mix on low to combine. Add the reserved pancetta fat and the butter in pieces and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks like damp sand. Add the eggs and wine and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a disk. Divide it into quarters. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll one portion of dough into a rough oval. Place it crosswise on the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 1 ½ inches wide and 9 inches long. Shape the remaining pieces of dough in the same way, moistening your hands as necessary, leaving at least 2 inches between the logs. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops even.

Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and just set—they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until they are crisp and golden. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely. The biscotti will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container stored at room temperature.

Not All Biscotti Are Created Equal

Sometimes a cup of coffee is simply not enough. Sometimes a cup of coffee needs a biscotti.

On a recent snowy afternoon in New England, I ordered just a cup of coffee at a cafe. That is, until the girl behind the counter asked me, "Would you like a biscotti with that?"

"Sure," I replied, without hesitation.

When the biscotti was placed in front of me, I was suddenly stricken with buyer's remorse. . The real disappointment was the dunk. I flash-dipped the biscotti into my latte &mdash any longer, and I feared it would melt altogether. When I pulled it out, it was sadly soggy. I bit into it, and it didn't crunch. Not even a crackle &mdash there was silence.

When the biscotti was placed in front of me, I was suddenly stricken with buyer's remorse. It had more holes than a kitchen sponge. When I picked it up, it was as light as a meringue cookie. I counted three almond slivers in the whole slice.

The real disappointment was the dunk. I flash-dipped the biscotti into my latte -- any longer, and I feared it would melt altogether. When I pulled it out, it was sadly soggy. I bit into it, and it didn't crunch. Not even a crackle -- there was silence.

If I know one thing about good biscotti, it's that they're noisy little confections. That's because they're twice baked, resulting in a crunchy, firm, perfectly dunkable cookie.

The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: The dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word "biscotti" to refer to various cookies, Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie.

The biscotti found in stylish cafes today have utterly common origins. The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds, which were abundant in the region.

Because the second baking drew moisture out of the biscuit, it rendered the biscotti hard, sturdy and, importantly, resistant to mold. Consequently, biscotti turned out to be the ideal food to store. They soon became a favored provision of sailors, including Christopher Columbus, who traveled at sea for months at a time with the crunchy cargo.

It didn't take long for other nationalities to discover the utility of these twice-baked biscuits. British hardtack -- a twice-baked, dry, hard biscuit made from flour, water and salt -- and German zwieback -- a twice-baked, crisp, sweetened bread -- are both spinoffs of the Italian original.

About The Author

Susan Russo is a food writer in San Diego. She publishes stories, recipes and photos on her cooking blog, Food Blogga. Her latest cookbook is Recipes Every Man Should Know. When she isn't writing about her Italian family back in Rhode Island or life with her husband in Southern California, she can be found milling around a local farmers market buying a lot more food than two people could possibly eat.

Biscotti continued to flourish throughout Italy as well, with various regions creating their own specialties from local ingredients such as pistachios and sesame seeds. Different regions in Italy also call biscotti by different names. Tuscans, for example, call biscotti cantucci.

It wasn't until the 1990s that biscotti became a treasured American favorite. We needed something to nosh while sipping our pricey gourmet coffees, so why not a pricey Italian cookie? Soon biscotti were everywhere: at elegant Italian restaurants, in hip cafes and even on humble coffee carts. Food writers dubbed biscotti the cookie of the '90s.

Today, biscotti come in an endless array of flavors. Classics such as almond, anise and hazelnut contend with flashier up-and-comers such as gingerbread, maple walnut and mint chocolate chip. There are also savory biscotti made with various cheeses and herbs that are lovely when paired with a charcuterie plate, an assortment of olives and cheeses, or even a bowl of soup.

Despite their centuries-old heritage, there is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs only, which is the traditional method, while others swear by butter or oil. The choice is yours just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.

As for fillings and flavors, biscotti get along with a host of ingredients, including dried fruit, nuts, spices, liqueurs and chocolate. You can't go wrong with classic flavor pairings such as rum and raisin, chocolate and orange, or cranberry and pistachio. Of course, you can always make up your own.

Don't worry too much about ruining biscotti. They are a remarkably forgiving cookie. Is the dough too dry and crumbly? Add another egg. Is it too sticky? Add a bit more flour. Did you leave them in the oven too long? No worries. Mark them as dunkers only. Like most confections, the more you make biscotti, the better you'll get at it.

Biscotti are time-consuming, but they're also one of the easiest and tastiest cookies you'll ever make. No special equipment is needed just a bowl, a spoon, a couple of baking sheets and some parchment paper.

As for eating them, anything goes. Enjoy a biscotti with a glass of milk for breakfast on the go, savor one with a glass of Italian wine for a luxurious afternoon snack, or dunk one in a cup of steaming milk for a late-night indulgence even Christopher Columbus would have liked.

And the next time you're at a cafe and the girl behind the counter asks if you would like a biscotti with your coffee, ask to see it first. Because no one should ever experience buyer's remorse when it comes to biscotti.

Baking And Storing Tips

  • Always preheat the oven. Check your oven temperature to ensure that it's correct. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and rotate sheets halfway through the baking process, to ensure evenly baked and browned biscotti.
  • Baking requires precision, so unless you're an old pro, it's best to use the exact ingredients specified in a recipe the first time you make it, rather than use too many substitutions that can adversely affect both texture and flavor. Keep in mind that variables such as different-sized eggs, varieties of flour and quality of extracts all affect biscotti. So try to use the best ingredients you can afford.
  • Be patient. When mixing the biscotti dough, you may find that it's dry and crumbly. Persevere. Use your hands to gently squeeze the batter until it begins to form a dough. If it's really dry, you may need to add an extra egg or some other liquid related to the recipe such as extract or liqueur. Conversely, if you find your batter to be really wet and sticky, then you will likely need to add more flour. Add it in small increments, and test the dough as you go. It's OK if the dough is slightly sticky. Just keep both the countertop and your hands lightly floured as you form the logs.
  • Place no more than two biscotti logs on a baking sheet, since they will spread as they bake.
  • Try not to bake on a humid day when biscotti (as well as many other cookies) spread more and are softer. If you have to, place the unbaked logs in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before placing in the oven.
  • After biscotti are baked once, allow them to cool for about 20 minutes. Too much longer, and they will become too hard to slice. When slicing biscotti, always use a serrated knife in a sawing motion, which reduces crumbling.
  • Place sliced biscotti on their sides back on the pans for the second baking. Here you have options: You can bake them at the same temperature for 10 minutes you can reduce the temperature to 200-300 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or you can turn off the heat completely and place the biscotti in the still-warm oven anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The longer they stay inside the oven, the harder and crisper they will become.
  • Let biscotti cool completely before garnishing with chocolate or icing.

For storing and freezing biscotti, keep these tips in mind:

  • Cool biscotti completely before storing, preferably in a metal tin, which will help maintain crispness.
  • If stored too quickly or placed inside of a paper or plastic bag, biscotti will visibly soften. In that case, place the cookies in a 300-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes to crisp again.
  • When storing decorated biscotti, place them between sheets of waxed or parchment paper to protect them from bumping against each other. Most biscotti, when properly stored, will last up to one month.

What are biscotti?

Biscotti are traditional Italian pastries. Classic biscotti cookies are dry and crisp, so they are ideal for dipping in hot coffee or tea. Sometimes biscotti are dipped in melted chocolate.

Biscotti are baked twice, which gives them their dry, crunchy texture. The dough is first shaped into a log and baked. After the baked dough log cools, you slice it on the diagonal and bake the cookies a second time until they are crisp.

You will find many different recipes for biscotti. Classic biscotti flavors include vanilla, anise and almond. Since biscotti are made with less butter and sugar, they are a healthy cookie.

If you like to bake homemade cookies for gifts for teachers, friends and neighbors, biscotti are a great choice. They stay fresh longer than most other types of cookies and they don’t break easily. There is nothing worse than worrying that the cookies you are giving away will be stale or broken by the time they get eaten.

This recipe is so easy and you can make lots of different flavors of biscotti so that there is something everyone will like. I made four batches in one morning and it was nice to be able to give away a plate with a variety of biscotti flavors to my family and friends.

Let’s talk about the ingredients for these homemade biscotti cookies.

Butter: I use 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter in my biscotti recipe. Adding more butter will result in a softer biscotti cookie and omitting the butter will give you a drier, crispier cookie. I found that 4 tablespoons is the perfect amount. Start with cold butter and cut it into four pieces. It will soften up as you beat it with the sugar.

Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar. You will want to beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture is creamy.

Eggs: You will need two large eggs for this recipe. The eggs are combined with the butter and sugar. The mixture might look a bit curdled, this is ok. When you mix in the flour everything will get incorporated.

Extracts and flavors: My basic biscotti recipe uses vanilla extract. You may also add almond extract or anise extract, which are both classic biscotti flavors. You can add some orange zest or lemon zest to the wet ingredients if you want citrus flavor in your biscotti.

Flour, baking powder and salt: I use a combination of white whole wheat flour and all purpose flour in my biscotti recipe. I like the depth of flavor that whole wheat flour adds to these cookies, and I like to sneak in extra nutrition whenever I can. You may replace the white whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour if that is all that you have on hand.

Baking powder helps the dough to rise. Adding salt to baked goods enhances the flavor.

Nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit and other mix-ins: This is the fun part! You can get creative with your mix-ins to create your own biscotti flavor. I recommend sticking to 1 1/2 cups or less total mix-ins. Try almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, chocolate chips, dried cherries or dried cranberries.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread almonds on a baking sheet.

Toast almonds in the preheated oven until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow almonds to cool.

Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Lightly beat eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a bowl. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture with an electric mixer until dough comes together. Add toasted almonds and mix until just incorporated.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and shape dough into a 3x14-inch log. Transfer log to prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until firm to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow log to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer log to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, using a serrated knife. Return biscotti slices to baking sheet, cut-side up.

Return biscotti to the oven and bake until biscotti are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Flip each cookie and continue baking until toasted, about 20 minutes more. Cool biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.

The Best Authentic Recipes from Giada in Italy

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Crispy, Crunchy Gingerbread Biscotti (Paleo, gluten-free)

I love to be good at things. Sometimes though, I'm incredibly good at things I shouldn't be.

Like NOT keeping up with friends.

It's not that I'm anti-social (which I am to a certain extent – comes with the territory of being an introvert).

I'm just busy. As are my friends. When we were all young and single it was easy to get together.

“Wanna go have some drinks tonight?”

Once you have kids the conversation is more like “Want to have the whole family over for dinner 3 months from now? We’ll have to start at 4 pm so we can get the kids to bed by 8.”

Half the time we even plan things that far in advance and then the day before somebody has to cancel because so-and-so is sick or a soccer game had been rescheduled for that time.

One of my friends and I have been trying to reconnect for months in this way and finally, we realized it just wasn't going to happen. Our kids just have too much going on and if we waited for the perfect moment, we'd never see each other. Instead, I invited her over for some coffee.

The Perfect Side for Coffee

You can't have someone over for just coffee, can you? It's kind of requisite to have a delicious baked good to accompany that coffee. I wanted a crunchy biscotti to dip into my beverage because that is the epitome of coziness. Dip, chat, sip, laugh, crunch, feel that connection to a long-lost friend.

My friend isn't Paleo and isn't even gluten-free, so I had to serve her something she'd want to devour. A soggy, half-assed Paleo-ized version of a biscotti certainly wouldn't work. But it wasn't like I could run out to Starbucks to grab any either because I can't eat gluten.

So I put on my apron and set to work, making a Paleo gingerbread biscotti I could be proud of. A crunchy, crispy one that could be dipped in coffee and savored.

The recipe I came up with was all that. Crunchy, delicious, just the right amount of gingerbread spice. Look at this crispness:

The coffee date with my friend? It was amazing. It felt so good to see her and to catch up. We slipped right back into our familiar banter, enjoying the ease of conversation while we sat snug and cozy in my kitchen, sipping on our drinks and eating our snack.

Plus, she absolutely loved the biscotti (she didn't even know it was Paleo until I told her).

I miss being able to connect with friends like this on a regular basis, but it's nice to know I have an easy option to have someone over for coffee and a treat. Also, I'm comforted by the fact that even though I need to be on a restrictive diet due to my autoimmune issues, I can still enjoy these little intimate moments involving a favorite snack.

For once in my life, I'm actually trying to be bad at something. My incredible ability to not connect with friends? Hopefully, I'll completely suck at that soon.

Here's a Facebook Live video I did on how to make these delicious treats (it's on YouTube so everyone can watch):

Recipe Summary

  • 6 cups cooked sushi rice, cooled
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with plastic wrap, leaving 2 inches of overhang on all sides. Place rice in a large bowl. Stir together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until salt is dissolved. Drizzle over rice gently fold together. Lightly pack rice into a 1-cup dry measuring cup invert onto prepared pan. Repeat with remaining rice, creating 2 rows of 3. Moisten hands slightly gently press rice into an even layer. Place another piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of rice press firmly into a compact, even layer (1/2 inch to 5/8 inch thick). Fold overhanging plastic wrap over top, gently pressing on top and smoothing outer edges. Chill 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 475°F with oven racks in middle and lower third of oven. Remove baking sheet from refrigerator. Unwrap plastic wrap, and remove top piece on rice invert rice onto a work surface. Remove plastic wrap from back. Cut into about 56 (1 1/2- x 1-inch) pieces. (For clean slices, dip knife into warm water, and wipe clean often.) Lightly coat top of rice pieces with cooking spray. Brush 2 rimmed baking sheets evenly with oil. Place 28 rice pieces, cooking spray&ndashcoated sides down, on each oiled baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until crisp and lightly golden, 14 to 20 minutes. Flip and top immediately.

Let me guide you through the recipe with this step-by-step VIDEO.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

For the breadcrumbs. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add panko and cook while constantly stirring for 4 minutes until toasted and golden. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the skillet to a plate.

In the same skillet, heat olive oil and butter. Add pancetta, cook until crispy and golden brown, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in peas and season with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add cooked pasta and parmesan, toss and add a splash of cooking water. Stir until pasta is coated with butter sauce.

Divide among bowls, serve with crunchy bread crumbs. Enjoy!

And …IF YOU LOVE THESE RECIPES … please consider supporting my work for just the cost of a cup of coffee.

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and don’t forget to tag me in your picture on Instagram with @anna_s_table or mention with #servingdumplings I’d love to see what you’re making. Happy cooking!

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"This is the definitive way to make gnocchi. I used to sit on my grandmother's lap while she taught me to roll the dough. The best way to ensure light gnocchi is to dry-cook the potatoes. Then either rice them or pass them through a food mill. Regular mashing leaves too many lumps, which make the dough difficult to roll."

How to Make Biscotti

Biscotti is a unique cookie in the way it is mixed and baked. It does not fall into any of the other cookie mixing methods, rather it has its own technique that can be used across the board for any kind of biscotti.

Step 1: Sift the Dry Ingredients

Sift all of the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together in a large mixing bowl. This will aerate the dry ingredient and help keep this crunchy cookie light and tender. If you do not have a sieve, you can whisk the ingredients together well.

Step 2: Mix the Wet Ingredients Together

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well combined.

Step 3: Add the Wet Ingredients & Knead

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to begin bringing the dough together. It will be somewhat shaggy and dry. Knead the dough in the bowl very briefly until a smooth dough is formed.

Step 4: Form into Logs for the First Bake

Divide the dough in two and transfer the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Shape the dough into logs with your hands. The dough is baked as large logs and then sliced after the first bake.

Step 5: First Bake

Bake the biscotti logs until the edges are crisp and the centers are still soft but puffy.

Step 6: Slice & Second Bake

When the logs have cooled slightly (enough to handle) use a serrated knife to cut them diagonally along the short side in 1/2″ (1.5 cm) slices.

Return the sliced biscotti to the baking sheets, cut side down, and bake at a low temperature until they are dried out and crispy.