Last night was the Pasta dinner fundraiser for my husband's students. You know, the one I baked some cookies for. According to all reports, the whole night was a huge success; lots of tickets sold, lots of raffle tickets sold, lots of pasta consumed, etc. The kids and I arrived a bit early, intending to help set up if needed, but all the parent volunteers had already taken care of that, so we just hung out…looked at the stuff on the raffle table…the kids played tag with one of my husband's students.
Eventually we lined up for our pasta and meatballs and salads and bread slices…and once we were done eating, student volunteers came around with little trays of dessert offerings: Hoodsies, my cookies, and my biscotti. I couldn't help but look around at the other tables, watching to see who chose a cookie or a biscotti, and trying to tell (often from staring at the backs of their heads) whether or not they were enjoying their selection. Then I gave up because I really couldn't tell a thing.
The kids entered some of the raffles, and then we drove home. I wasn't feeling well (I've got a sore throat and I'm feeling a little run down) so we just watched tv until it was time for the kids to go to bed. Then I made myself a mug of decaf tea and curled up on the couch under a blanket and watched a rerun of "Bones" until Bill got home.
He came in with a big smile on his face and told me that there were NO cookies or biscotti left. The biscotti were a hit with the adults, and one of the fathers (who is Italian) was so smitten with them that he invited to have us over for home-cooked Italian meal IF I would show him how to make biscotti. That would be fun, actually, so we'll see if it happens.
Anyway, it was nice to get all the positive feedback, and I told Bill I'd make cookies (and biscotti) again next year if he'd like.
So – yay. I'm glad I did it.
And here – since people seemed to like it – is the recipe for the biscotti I made. I'm sorry, I don't have any pictures of the process or the final product, but if you'd like to see something similar, you can go to this biscotti post from a few years ago – it's the same process, but with different add-ins.
Lemon Biscotti with Candied Ginger and White Chocolate Chips
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided (one half cup, and one half plus 2 T)
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one large lemon
12 oz white chocolate chips
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced very small
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine white chocolate chips and candied ginger in another bowl. Mix them together with your hands to separate the ginger bits as much as possible, so they don't end up sticking together in clumps in your biscotti later. Set aside.
Combine zest with 1/2 cup sugar and rub together with your fingers until all the zest is worked into the sugar. (Thanks, Dorie!)
In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter and lemon/sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg yolks, scraping the bowl down after each addition.
Scrape this mixture into the big bowl with your dry ingredients and combine, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon or your hands; whatever works best. The mixture will be pretty dry and crumbly.
Clean out your mixing bowl completely and dry it. You want NO butter or egg yolk left in that bowl, otherwise this next part won't work.
Pour your egg whites into the mixing bowl and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high spead until the eggs are very frothy and starting to thicken. Slowly pour the rest of your sugar (the 1/2 cup plus 2 T) into the whites, with the motor still running, and continue whipping until you have firm peaks. Congratulations: you have achieved meringue.
Scrape the meringue into the bowl with your crumbly mixture and, using a large rubber spatula (a rubber bowl scraper also works) fold in the meringue. When that's done, fold in your ginger and white chocolate.
Now, at this point you can either divide the dough in half and make two logs and end up with biscotti about 5-6 inches long and about 3/4" to an inch thick, half an inch wide, OR, if you like bigger biscotti, just make one log on one of the pans instead. I like to make them smaller, because then I end up with MORE, but that's just me.
Form the logs (or log) by placing the dough in the center of the baking sheet. Wet your hands (the dough won't stick to wet hands) and shape the blob of dough into a log down the length of the pan (or diagonally, which gives you a bit more room) and then, starting in the middle, press it down until it's about half an inch thick.
Bake this (or these) in your 325 oven for about half an hour or so. You want it to be cooked through but not done yet. A little golden brown around the edges is fine, but the top should still be pale. Remove the pan from the oven and let the dough cool for five to ten minutes. Reduce the oven temp to 300.
Place the log on a cutting board and cut slices about half an inch thick. (If you slice on the diagonal, they look fancier.) Place the slices back on the baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for about ten minutes or so, until they're golden brown on the underside, then flip them all over and bake again for another ten minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheets, and then store them airtight.
Biscotti will keep for a couple of weeks, I believe. I wouldn't know from actual experience – they don't last long enough around here for me to find out!