Cranberry Orange Biscotti
Many moons (ok a few) ago, I was doing research for my Buttermilk and Chive Biscuits recipe and ran across the fact that the word “biscuit” comes from Latin “biscotti,” or twice baked. I realized I had never made biscotti, and wanted to give it a shot for the holiday season. Biscotti makes a great gift because it seems a little fancy, is simple to make at home, and goes perfectly with a mug of tea or coffee. These cranberry orange biscotti disappeared from the tray in minutes. Sadly, yes, only two people live in my house. But they were just THAT good.
The technique of making biscotti is an interesting one that might seem strange at first. The batter is incredibly loose, and you could never get regular cookies out of it. Pouring it onto a baking sheet feels wrong, but you’re on the right path. Shape it as best you can (it’s sticky, so don’t worry about it being perfect) into a slightly domed mound, and then bake it. When they come out the first time, they’re springy and soft with a slight crust on the top. Let it cool, then cut into strips and turn those on their sides and bake again.
This second bake is what gives the biscotti its signature name. The goal is to get a dry, hard cookie, which sounds horrendous when you first think of it. But once you realize that these treats are popular in cafés as accompaniments to dip in tea or coffee, it makes more sense. Rather than disintegrating like a normal cookie would when dunked, biscotti softens while still holding its shape, and the bitterness of the drink counteracts the sweetness of the cookie. Two things that aren’t for everyone (bitter drinks and hard cookies) come together to make a match that anyone can get behind. And if you still can’t, well….eat your hard cookie in peace, idc.
My favorite part about these cranberry orange biscotti is that I made them nut-free to accommodate my husband’s allergies. MANY biscotti recipes call for nuts, and most pre-made ones are chock full of almonds and macadamia nuts. The fact that he was so happy to be able to eat a biscotti without worrying about whether they had nuts or not… that was a gift in and of itself. Speaking of gift, now that it’s past the holidays, these still make great late gifts. A beautiful thing about 2020 is that we couldn’t see everyone we were gifting to over the holidays, so it’s now socially acceptable to be like “omg I had this present for you this whole time!” when really you bought it yesterday. Ok, maybe don’t tell you friends you baked these for them weeks ago. But they can definitely accompany some special tea you picked out for them “a month ago,” right?
Enjoy making riffs on this biscotti recipe with your own favorite add-ins. Throw in some nuts, different dried fruit, or different spices. Change it up and make it your own! I took a break from writing during the holidays, but now I’m ready to get back into the swing of things, so expect a flood of new posts soon. Until then, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living.
Cranberry Orange Biscotti
- 1/2 cup brandy (optional)
- 1 cup dried cranberries or craisins
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
- 2 eggs
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (5g)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (160g)
- 6 oz white chocolate
- 1 tsp canola oil
- Add the brandy and craisins to a bowl together, and let them soak for a few hours before you begin preparing the biscotti. This is optional, but adds a depth of flavor from the brandy.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brown the butter by placing it in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it smells nutty and is a light brown color, you're there! Cool it slightly then add to the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar. Beat on medium until well combined, then add the zest, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium for 2 minutes until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Lower the speed on the stand mixer to the lowest setting and add the flour mixture. Stir until no dry pockets remain, then add the craisins (drain off any remaining brandy first if you used it). When they are well incorporated, turn off the stand mixer.
- Prepare a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Pour the dough onto the parchment paper and shape roughly into a rectangle. The most important thing is making sure your dough isn't TOO flat, or uneven around the sides, so that your end product will be roughly the same size. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden on top and not raw in the middle.
- Cool for about 30 minutes, then cut the biscotti into batons. You should be able to get somewhere between 10-15 out of this dough depending on how you shaped it. Turn the batons on their sides and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until dry and hard to the touch. Be careful not to burn them!
- When you're ready to finish them off, melt the white chocolate with the canola oil in the microwave in 30 second bursts until smooth (stirring between bursts). Dip an end of each biscotti in the white chocolate and allow to harden on a baking sheet. Package them up to give as gifts, or save them for yourself to enjoy with a morning cuppa!