Friday, November 8, 2013

Cinnamon Cornmeal Biscotti

Biscotti, the twice baked Italian cookies, are made with fat and without. For me, ones with less fat are the everyday kind and the more luxurious, considerably higher fat ones would make a lovely make ahead weekend indulgence. Biscotti with no added fat are loud, noisy and crunchy, great for dipping in wine I gather. The addition of butter or oil, makes them a little tender, less loud but still crunchy, crispy depending on the recipe.

After trying out a few recipes, realization dawns that I like biscotti with fat in them. These tender crisp kind are what I like to dunk in my tea/coffee when I feel like eating something light, but don't exactly know what. The kind of healthier cookies I like in my cookie jar for the kids to dip in their glass of milk. The bonus - these are really easy compared to the regular cookies, more substantial and keep well for days. You could  bake them at leisure and rest assured you have something not-too-sweet or fat loaded to nibble on over the next few days.

Looking for a new biscotti  recipe, I baked David Lebovitz's cornmeal biscotti . The gritty cornmeal in the biscotti , gives them a slightly different texture. Since the butter doesn't need to be creamed, you could get away making a really small batch easily. Made a couple of batches of these, one with cinnamon and some with citrus zest. Biscotti with cinnamon and butter taste great when really fresh, you must try these if cinnamon is your spice. Baked a batch with oil in place of the butter. Since using butter or oil did not make a great deal of difference, I think I shall stick to using oil.

I have made small batches (a fourth of the below recipe) just to play around. Have sneaked in a tiny bit of baking powder as well.

  • All purpose  flour -  210 grams / 1 1/2 cups
  • Cornmeal, preferably stone-ground - 70 grams / 1/2 cup
  • Sugar- 200 grams / 1 cup ( I have powdered after weighing)
  • Baking soda- 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon (I have added this)
  • Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Eggs- 2 large / 98 grams
  • Butter (salted or unsalted), melted - 55 grams / 4 tablespoons (weigh and melt) OR 60 ml / 1/4 cup oil
  • Ground Cinnamon - 1 heaping teaspoon 
  • Vanilla - 1 teaspoon 
      • zest of one lemon
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
      • Walnuts (or almonds) toasted and coarsely chopped - 1 cup (100g)

      1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

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

      3. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the beaten eggs. Add the butter, then mix until the dough is wet and crumbly. Add the nuts and stir to get them mixed well into the dough. The dough will feel dry but will come together. Its not as wet as the usual biscotti dough, the dough with oil felt a bit dry, but worked just fine.

      4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in two, and roll each portion into a 13-inch (33cm) long or according to the size of your batch and baking tray (these spread, so leave at least around 2'' space all around the log to be safe) , then transfer them to the baking sheet. Leave ample space between the two logs as the dough will spread a bit during baking.

      5. Bake the logs for 20 minutes, or until they feel firm but springs back when you press the top. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. You could, at this point, leave the baked log covered and come back to it even the next day ! Reduce the heat of the oven to 150 degree / 300 F.  (250ºF /120ºC in the original recipe)

      6. Using a sharp bread knife, slice the longs crosswise into individual cookies, each about 1/3-inch (1cm.) Place the biscotti on the baking sheet, standing them up on their back (imagine slicing the log and separating the slices) and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cookies will feel soft when hot, will crisp as they cool. Vary the baking time to your preference, baking longer dries them out further, making them crunchier.

      Let cookies cool completely, then store in an airtight container. The biscotti will keep for at least two weeks.

      Tender-crunchy, I liked these as a change from the normal textured biscotti. Do make yourself a small batch of these with cinnamon and butter. If eating immediately, brush the warm baked slices with a tiny bit of butter and cinnamon as the baker's treat. Storing biscotti brushed with butter is not a great idea, the butter kind of solidifies later. Just happen to know.


      Sapana Behl said...

      Looks so crispy, just like store bought.....

      M D said...

      I am drooling over these beautiful biscottis. They look so delcicious. Love your photos!

      Priya Suresh said...

      Omg, prefect looking biscottis, looks stunning.

      Hari Chandana P said...

      Woww.. sounds too good and tempting.. thanks for sharing :)

      Madhavi said...

      Hi! Where do you buy cornmeal in Bangalore?

      Suma Rowjee said...

      @Madhavi - You can get it at these small shops which sell grocery used in North Indian cooking.

      Anonymous said...

      can we use wheat flour instead of maida...please suggest wheat flour recipes also. worried to use maida .