Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipe: Almond Cornmeal Biscotti

I was looking for something to pair with the New Orleans style chicory coffee that I received when I came across David Lebovitz's cornmeal biscotti recipe.  What could be more Southern than cornbread flavors?  I made a batch for our weekend brunch and enjoyed the crunchiness of the stone ground cornmeal but couldn't taste the almond extract or the lemon.  I decided to tweak the recipe by adding ground almond, forgetting about the lemon, and then attempted it in my toaster oven. So to the readers who previously complained that the Chinese style kitchens in Hong Kong apartments do not provide proper ovens (or room to install ovens), this recipe is for you!

You can make this recipe in one go but after reading a New York TImes interview with Shirley O. Corriher, the author of “CookWise,” who advocates long resting times for dough so that gelatinous and slow absorbing eggs can fully incorporate with the butter and flour, I decided to mix up the dough the night before and then bake the biscotti fresh in the morning.  The results were given a hearty thumbs up by SB.

Almond Cornmeal Biscotti (the original recipe claims 60 biscotti but I only managed 30):

Adapted from David Lebovitz who adapted from Anita Chu's Field Guide to Cookies 

1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
1/2 cup (70g) cornmeal, preferably stone-ground (you can buy Bob's Red Mill and City Super)
1/2 cup (70g) ground almonds
1 cup (200g) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 medium eggs
4 tablespoons (55g) melted butter (if you use salted butter you may omit the 1/4 teaspoon of salt)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC.) Line your toaster oven pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, almonds, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then make a well in the dry ingredients to add the eggs.  Stir to incorporate as well as you can. Add the butter, then stir to a uniform consistency.  Refrigerate overnight or continue to the next step if you are baking in one go.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in two and roll each portion to almost the length of the baking pan (mine was about 28cm).  Place the logs on the baking sheet, leaving at least 5cm of space between the two logs for the dough to spread while baking.  Pat down the logs slightly so that when you cut them, the cross sections won't be too tall.

Bake the logs for 20 minutes, or until they feel set. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 230ºF (110ºC.)

Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the biscotti crosswise into individual cookies, each about 1/3-inch (1cm.) Place the biscotti on the baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the biscotti from the oven and turn each one over, then continue to cook for 10 minutes more to make them dry and crisp.

Serve to your significant other and watch him gobble them up or store the completely cooled cookies in an airtight container for maximum two weeks.

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