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    Entries in I can cook (14)

    Saturday
    Jul192014

    Chocolate Biscotti

    I don’t usually like really crunchy cookies. Why did I make biscotti then?

    Well, I’ve also been looking for cookie recipes that start with something other than “cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs and vanilla”.

    Plus, apparently the rock hard biscotti that we typically find at coffee shops (that I find too hard to bother with) are a lot harder than they should be. One of the managers at work is an old world Italian dude and he said that these cookies, which are crunchy but still bite-able, are what biscotti are supposed to be. When you dip them in coffee they don’t fall apart, but you can also bite them without first having to soften them in espresso, or amaretto. Or espresso with amaretto in it.

     

    What you need

    **I made a double batch and used twice the amount of everything so the pics look a little different**

    • ½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds or hazlenuts or maybe pistachios?
    • 1 ½  cups flour  (you can substitute up to 1 cup of flour with almond flour)
    • ¾ cups sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ¼  teaspoon salt
    • ¼  cup cocoa
    • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into little pieces (don’t bother with butter if you use almond flour)
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • ¾ cups chocolate chips

    What you gotta do

    I like toasty nuts. So, first thing I’m going to do is put the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium low.

    While those get toasty, start measuring the dry stuff into a big bowl. Don’t forget to shake the pan from time to time so that the nuts get toasty on all sides.

    Flour. Shake the pan. Sugar. Shake the pan. Baking powder and salt. Shake the pan.

    Sift the cocoa into the bowl to make sure all the little cocoa lumps get busted up.

    Shake the pan. Once the pine nuts are nice and golden toasty, set them aside to cool.

    Mix all the dry stuff together and then cut in the butter. Biscotti are traditionally made with ground almonds in there along with the flour, and no fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter), but since I’m not using the almonds, I need fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter).

    Cutting in the butter can be done with a pastry cutter, or forks, or knives. It’s the same thing you do when you’re making biscuits.

    In another bowl crack the eggs and add the Amaretto and the vanilla. And the Amaretto.

    Beat the eggs and Amaretto and vanilla and Amaretto together.

    Okay, so you know how when you make muffins, you toss the blueberries in a bit of flour to make sure they stick to the muffin batter? Along those lines… dump the chocolate chips and the cooled pine nuts into the egg mixture, and then pour it into the dry stuff.

    Wait. Preheat the oven now to 350.

    Since what we’re doing here is making a pastry type dough, we don’t want to mix it too much, since that makes gluten form and toughens the cookies. No one likes tough cookies. Mix just until things are starting to hold together and then dump it onto the counter in a big mess that’s half wet and sticky and half dry and crumbly. This is the same thing we did with the Welsh Cakes and you trusted me then, right? Right? Amaretto.

    Gently press the dry stuff into the sticky parts, and fold them over. Keep folding and pressing (while avoiding the urge to “knead” the dough) until it all comes together.

    Sorry about the perspective on those pics, but my hands were kinda messy.

    **I made a double recipe and cut my dough into 6. If you're just making a single, cut into 3.**

    Once the dough has come together, cut it into 6 wedges.

    Roll each wedge into a log about 8 or 9 inches long and press it into an oval that’s about 2 inches wide.

    If your dough is still really sticky (Amaretto), use cocoa, not flour on the counter.

    My dough was really sticky and I ended up with a lot of cocoa on the logs, so I brushed them with a bit of Amaretto. You could also brush them with beaten egg if you want a glossy look on the top.

    Bake the logs for 25 minutes, then set them on a rack to cool. My tiny one-room-sized air conditioner is in the bedroom. So I had the fan help them along with the whole cooling thing.

    Slice the logs into ½ to 1 inch thick slices on the diagonal. You should get a dozen or so from each log. And yes, you could stop here and just call these things cookies, but you couldn't call them "biscotti". Biscotti get their name from being twice baked (bi = two, cotte = cooked, that is your Latin lesson for the day).

    Now, you could evenly spread them out nicely so that air circulates around them, but fuck air space. I just got 6 dozen cookies on one baking sheet.

    I saw one site that suggested standing the slices up on edge but whoever wrote that obviously did not use Amaretto. Or bake them that way because seriously, wtf? Stand ½ inch thick slices of cookie on edge? Try it. Tell me if it works. Pics or it didn’t happen.

    Amaretto.

    Oh, and you know all of those little crumbly bits left on the cutting board?

    Whatever you do, don’t put them in a bowl, pour Amaretto over top and eat them like cereal. No pics. Didn’t happen.

    Sunday
    May112014

    Butterscotch Cookies

    I’ve got all the ingredients on the counter, all stacked up nicely, and I’m thinking to myself “What am I missing??”

    Um, camera. Right. Cooking requires pictures, remember?? In particular, a portrait oriented pretty one of the final product for our Pinterest page. You did know we have a Pinterest page, didn’t you?

    Not sure if you remember me, but I used to cook here a while ago, until I went totally crazy with school and got so bad at cooking that I barely managed to make cereal for dinner 3 days a week (the other 4 were cheese and crackers). But, I’m done with the 5 classes a semester thing, and I’m now mere months away from a degree, and someone at work asked me to make Butterscotch cookies.

    So I found my camera, bought a hand mixer (it’s been a while, my Popeye arms are out of practice) and started cooking!

    Butterscotch Cookies

    • ¾ c unsalted butter
    • 1 ¾ c darkest brown sugar you can find, like Demerara
    • 2 tbsp cream
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • ½ tsp sea salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 ¾ c flour
    • ½ tsp baking soda

    We’re going to do something a little different than the usual old “cream the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs” with this one. Butterscotch originated as a hard candy of cooked butter and sugar, so that’s where we’re going to start.

    Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, and let it get all foamy and bubbly.

    We’re going to *cook* the butter a bit before we add anything to it. After a minute or two the foam will subside (lifting the pot and gently swirling the butter from time to time will help

         

    Once you’ve got a nice clear top, swirl the butter every 30 seconds or so until you start to see little brown spots on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and the burner off.

    What you’ve just done is made “beurre noisette” or browned butter. It’s called noisette, the French word for hazelnut, because the aroma gets a little nutty as it browns. You know how when you sauté something until it gets that delicious golden brown colour to it? You just did that to butter.

    Dump in the brown sugar and the cream and start whisking. I put mine back on the burner as I whisked, and let the residual heat from the burner help melt the sugar as I decided whether or not I wanted to be risky in the next couple steps.

    I was considering proceeding as if making a pate a choux like Taneasha did with the cream puffs. Dump the flour into the hot butter mixture and then add the eggs later. But my Popeye arms are out of practice, and I’m not sure my new little hand mixer can deal with that serious a pastry, so I took the safe route, and dumped the almost butterscotch sauce (add more cream, cook it 10 minutes, pour it over ice cream) into a big bowl.

    Beat in the vanilla and salt.

    Once it’s cool enough that you can hold your hand on the bottom of the bowl, add the eggs one at a time. Cracking them into a measuring cup first lets you pour them in without risking shells and without stopping the mixer.

    Same thing with the flour. Measure into a giant cup, stir in the baking soda, and pour bits at a time into the bowl until you have a sticky ball of dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but that relaxes and puddles a bit when it’s left alone.

    In a small bowl, mix about

    • ¼ c dark brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp plain old boring regular sugar
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt, if you’re into that kind of thing

    Recipe Guy’s sister is all over the salted-caramel trend, but I find most people over do it on the salting part so I generally stay away from it. If you’re not sure you want to go all in, try sprinkling a few grains of salt on top of each cookie after you’ve dipped them. If those work for you, add the salt next time.

    Roll tablespoon or so sized balls of dough and dip the top into the sugar-sugar(-salt) mixture.

    Bake them at 350 for 11 minutes for cookies that are not browned on the bottom, and have chewy middles. If you want them slightly crisp all the way through, let them go for 13 minutes, but be careful not to let the bottoms get too dark.

    The butterscotch flavour is subtle in these; it kind of creeps up on you. It’s a lot more noticeable next to a sip of coffee though. Wow, is it ever! Definitely a breakfast cookie.

    What do you think of the salted sweets thing?