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Biscotti goes modern and fancy

According to Biscotti by Lou Seibert Pappas, biscotti is the cookie of the 1990s, but it actually dates back many centuries. Columbus and other seafarers and travelers packed versions with their provisions. Italian biscotti, Jewish mandelbrot, Dutch rusk and German zweiback are all related.

Biscotti are the more glamorous now. Dunk them in coffee or cappuccino, serve them with dessert or dip them in wine. Actually they are delicious alone.

Eadie Nieman's Memorable Biscotti are prepared with butter and almonds and flavored with anise and vanilla extracts. Terry St. Onge and Mary Wortham share their recipes for Cranberry Almond Biscotti, using dried cranberries.

Anna and Alexander Strollo have experimented and refined their Chocolate Walnut Biscotti recipe and share the results. Their neighbors said "make more."

For: Linda Heisey of Clearwater.

From: Eadie Nieman of Gulfport.

Recipe: Memorable Biscotti.

Memorable Biscotti

1 cup butter (no substitute), softened (2 sticks)

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon anise extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

{ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped almonds

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in extracts. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in almonds. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease the foil.

Divide dough in half. On the foil, form dough into two 11-inch by 3-inch rectangles. Bake at 300 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven; increase temperature to 325 degrees.

Using the foil, lift the rectangles onto wire racks; cool completely. Place on a cutting board; cut diagonally with a serrated knife into }-inch slices. Place with cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn over; bake 10 minutes longer. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2{ dozen.

From: Terry St. Onge of New Port Richey and Mary Wortham of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: Cranberry Almond Biscotti.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

2\ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

{ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

{ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1 tablespoon almond or vanilla extract

} cup sliced almonds

1 6-ounce package Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)

Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together eggs, egg whites and almond or vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients, mixing just until moist, using an electric mixer on medium speed. Add dried cranberries and almonds; mix thoroughly.

On a floured surface, divide batter in half and pat each half into a log about 14 inches long and 1{ inches wide. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until firm. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Cut biscotti into {-inch slices. Stand upright on cookie sheet and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool and store in a loosely covered container. Makes 2{ dozen.

From: Anna and Alexander Strollo of Spring Hill.

Recipe: Chocolate Walnut Biscotti.

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (about 8 ounces)

4 cups all-purpose flour

{ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2{ cups sugar

1{ teaspoons baking powder

1{ teaspoons baking soda

4 eggs

[ teaspoon salt

\ cup brandy or coffee

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread walnuts on a cookie sheet and toast in oven 5-8 minutes, shaking pan several times, until walnuts are light brown. Let cool. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Stir or whisk gently until well-mixed. Make a well in center.

In medium bowl, beat eggs with salt until well-blended. Mix in brandy and vanilla. Pour egg mixture into well in center of flour mixture. Beat together until soft dough forms. Stir in toasted walnuts.

With lightly moistened hands, divide dough in half. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, shape dough into two loaves about 12- by 3{- by {-inch. Bake 50 minutes or until dough appears dry.

Remove from oven; cut loaves into {-inch slices. Arrange slices on baking sheet; bake 20 minutes. Turn over; bake 20 minutes longer until firm and dry. Let cool. Makes 4 dozen. Store in airtight container for up to several weeks.

Recipe requests

Alexander Strollo of Spring Hill has misplaced his recipe for Ricotta Balls. If you have one, please share it.

Rachele Nickerson of Port Richey has lost her family's favorite New York Cheesecake recipe. It is made without a crust. Ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 6 or 8 eggs and lemon juice are among the ingredients. Rachele clipped it from the St. Petersburg Times about 10 years ago, and it has become a Christmas tradition until, sadly, this year.

Patricia Burke of St. Petersburg writes for another lost favorite recipe. Please send your Mississippi Mud Pie recipe for her.

Texas Sheet Cake prepared with cocoa and baked in a jellyroll pan is a perfect dessert for a crowd. Unfortunately, Emily Knight of Sun City Center has lost the recipe and needs a replacement.

You Asked For It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked For It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.

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