Biscotti

Cornmeal biscotti, left, and Parmesan and black pepper biscotti

MARK BOUGHTON PHOTOGRAPHY

Biscotti are the crunchy, gently sweetened Tuscan cookies Italians like to dunk in wine. In Italy, the word "biscotti" refers to any kind of cookie, but once it made the voyage across the sea, "biscotti" came to describe long, twice-baked cookie (bis, meaning "twice"; cotto, meaning "cooked"), with a characteristic hard, crunchy texture. Baked first in a log and then in slices, they come out of the oven toasty on the outside and softer in the middle. But when they’re cool, they're crisp and ready for dunking.

But why stick only to sweet biscotti, we thought? Here, in addition to a sweet cornmeal cranberry biscotti that's softer than the usual, is a savory Parmesan-enhanced biscotti, perfect for dunking in soups.

Biscotti keep very well, so they're perfect for packing in tins for holiday gifts.

Cornmeal Biscotti with Dried Cranberries and Pecans

A small amount of cornmeal gives a nice crunch to these biscotti.

  • ¾      cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼      cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¾      teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8    teaspoon salt
  • ¼      cup butter, softened
  • 1/3    cup, plus 1 teaspoon, sugar
  • 1        egg
  • 2        teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 1        teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3     cup chopped, dried cranberries
  • 1/3     cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt to combine.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/3 cup sugar until blended. Add egg, lemon rind and vanilla. Turn mixer to low speed and add flour mixture, cranberries and pecans.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Shape into a log 12-inches long and 2-inches wide. Place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until top is firm to touch. Place sheet on wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300F. 6. Transfer log to a firm surface. With a serrated knife, cut log diagonally into 16 slices. On baking sheet, place slices upright but not touching. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly dry. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 16 biscotti.

Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscotti

Bake these savory little toasts until they're crisp all the way through. If there are leftovers, crumble them into croutons for soups and salads or sprinkle them over casseroles.

  • 1       cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾      teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾      teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼      teaspoon salt
  • 3        tablespoons butter, softened, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3     cup, plus 2 teaspoons, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1        egg
  • 1        egg white
  • 1        egg yolk
  • 1        teaspoon water

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, pepper and salt. With fingers or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk in L cup cheese.

In a small bowl, whisk egg and egg white. Add to flour mixture and work together with rubber spatula and then hands until blended.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Shape into a log 12-inches long and 2-inches wide. Place on baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water. Brush log with egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons cheese. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until top is firm to touch. Place sheet on wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300F.

Transfer log to a firm surface. With a serrated knife, cut log diagonally into 20 slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake 25 or until bottoms are golden. Flip and bake 15 minutes or until golden on both sides. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 20 biscotti.