Biscotti is typically a sweet treat, but it's delicious when made with savory ingredients like Parmesan cheese and fresh-cracked black pepper. These crisp, cracker-like cookies make a delightful homemade gift.
Don't be intimidated by the recipe, although it involves dough and double baking, it's actually uncomplicated. I've never made biscotti and was a little nervous, but the technique was surprisingly simple. Be sure to read the recipe carefully before you begin to bake.
The recipe makes a large batch so I gave some to my grandfather and his girlfriend, and served the rest with wine and salami at an informal dinner party. To fill your house with a marvelous, comforting smell, bake these and
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder*
- Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl.
- Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.
- Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total.
- Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
- Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets.
- Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.
Makes 5-6 dozen biscotti.
*I do not own a spice grinder, so I hand cracked the black pepper using my everyday pepper grinder.
- Appetizers, Breads/Crackers