Healthy Holiday Biscotti

Happy Holidays from From the Athlete’s Kitchen!  Oh, and happy new name for my blog!  To celebrate both, it’s cookie time!!  I’ll feature cookies this week and next.  Today it’s biscotti, which I love for many reasons, not least of which is that by design, biscotti is a little more palatable from a waistline-watching perspective than other cookies.  There is little to no oil in traditional biscotti, and you can use a variety of mix-ins for flavor, allowing for a reduction of sugar but not tastiness.  It’s crunchy, yet featured ingredients provide chewiness.  This version is a little lighter on the sugar than most I’ve seen.  Diving in…

Like the treat itself, making biscotti is a little different from other cookies because it is twice-baked.  The  trick here is that between baking, you must let the biscotti cool completely before slicing and re-baking.  For me, herein lies the rub – this is exactly the time when I want to break off a bite and taste!  But I’ve done this enough times though to know that attempting to break off a middle-of-process-piece can lead to major crumbling and rushing the cooling is to set yourself up for falling-apart biscotti.  Plus the cookies are SO much better once they’ve been back in the oven.  Here’s the recipe and steps – I’ll reiterate the key cooling part when we get there.

Ingredients:

– 1 Cup All Purpose Flour

– 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

– 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

– 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

– 1/2 Cup Pistachios, Coarsely Chopped

– 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries or Cherries, Coarsely Chopped

– 1/2 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate – chips, or chopped from a baking bar (which can be more versatile overall than chips):

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Pieces

– Zest from one entire Orange

– 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

– 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

– 1 & 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

– 3 Large Eggs – 1 Whole, 2 Whites

– 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Steps:

Phase 1:

– Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees F.

– Prepare a baking sheet by placing a piece of parchment over the entire sheet.

– Add the flours, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine, or use a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.

– One at a time, add the pistachios, dried fruit and chocolate to the dry ingredients and whisk each time to throughly combine.

– Add the orange zest and sugars, and whisk to throughly combine.

– In a separate bowl, add the whole egg,  two egg whites and vanilla extract.  Whisk to combine (no need to vigorously beat.)

– Add the egg mixture to your dry mixture.  Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, slowly stir to incorporate the egg mixture into dry ingredients.

– Once partially mixed, drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil evenly over the ingredients and continue to stir.

– The ingredients will incorporate to the point of pea-sized clumps, like this:

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– At this point, it becomes necessary to use your hands.  (Do not add any more liquid in an attempt to make the ingredients incorporate.)

– Working *in the bowl*, simply smoosh the pea-sized clumps together gently.  They will stick pretty easily.  Keep smooshing until you have a one cohesive piece of dough:

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Does not have to be a perfect ball.

– Transfer the dough onto the prepared baking sheet:

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– Then, alternately press the top of the dough and the sides with the palms of your hands until you have formed a kind of flattened-out log.  You’ll be baking the log and once it cools, slicing, and then re-bakign the slices.  So, the shape of the log will ultimately dictate the shape of the biscotti.

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– Bake at 350 Degrees for 30 minutes, then set on a cooling rack.

– Wait.For.It.To.Cool.  Wait wait wait.  You’ll need at least an hour here.

– What helps the cooling go a *little* faster is to remove the log from the baking sheet.  Do so by simply lifting the sides of the parchment paper to make a secure lifting mechanism (scroll down for photo) and place it back on the cooling rack.  Do not try to lift it with your hands or a spatula, it will break!

Cooling Biscotti Before Slicing

– Wait a little longer – it’s not actually all the way cooled yet!  Have you… answered e-mails, finished holiday shopping, finished gift-wrapping, walked the dog, emptied the dryer, made the bed, cleaned up from prep steps, made your New Year’s Resolutions, called your Mom, and sent your holiday cards?  Great!  It’s almost ready to slice.

Phase 2:

Preheat oven to 250 Degrees F.

Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

– When the log is *cool to the touch*, use the same lifting system to transfer to a cutting board.  Leave the parchment paper underneath for easier clean up.

Using two hands, just lift!

Using two hands, carefully lift. Still fragile at this point.

– Using a very sharp serrated knife, slice the log into the individual pieces seen below.  It’s helpful to keep a paper towel near the cutting board to wipe your knife as you go.  Keeping the blade clean throughout the process helps with precise slicing.

– Transfer the slices onto the baking sheet as you go.  They will be fragile and almost cakey during this phase, and the knife blade works well as a transferring tool between the cutting board and baking sheet.  The slices may be a little crumbly – that’s okay.

– The the crucial aspect here is that the slices be uniform in thickness, so that they bake evenly.  If you find yourself with diagonal slides toward the end, that’s okay too!

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– Bake at 250 Degrees F for 30 minutes, then, turn the oven up to 300 Degrees and bake for another 10 minutes.

– Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Serve as a light dessert, bring as a hostess gift or enjoy as a snack with a hot drink!

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Enjoy & Happy Holidays!!!

 

 

 

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