Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cookie Rookie

My culinary to-do list is embarrassingly long. With monthly subscriptions to several cooking magazines, I have more delicious-sounding recipes than time to make them all!

Biscotti had a long tenure on this list, but found its way off in time for the recent Philly Weddingbee Meet Up. I was looking for a recipe that could keep for several days (so I could make them ahead of time) and would be a cute food favor (because presentation is key!); I picked a chocolate-packed treat to try out.

I tweaked the recipe slightly -- no change in the ingredients, just how I shaped the dough before baking -- to make mini biscotti. And while my current kitchen set-up isn't ideal (the much-coveted KitchenAid stand mixer is waiting patiently on our registry, so I borrowed Mama Bruschetta's oh-so-'70s hand mixer), our motley assortment of hand-me-down kitchen tools was more than up to the task.

After creaming the butter and sugar, I added three eggs and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract; then, slowly mixed in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt) before stirring in white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips to finish the biscotti dough.

I used a cookie scoop to portion out the sticky dough, dropping dollops onto foil-lined baking sheets. Using a glass of water to keep my fingers moist (as the recipe recommends), I pressed the dough mounds together into logs measuring about one to one-and-a-half inches wide, then chilled them in the fridge.

After the first round of baking -- you'll know they're done when the top of the logs (which will spread out a bit in the oven) have small cracks, and an inserted tester comes out clean -- I cooled the logs briefly before cutting them into half-inch wide pieces. The gooey cookies went back in the oven until they were dry to touch; then, I flipped them over to finish baking the other side.

By this point, my kitchen smelled amazing. Waiting for the biscotti to finish baking was definitely the toughest part of this recipe; once you slice the logs, it's so tempting to just nosh the nearly-finished goodies -- especially since they're chewy at this point, oozing with melty chocolatey goodness. If you're patient, though, it'll be worth the wait. The finished treats have bite, but freshly baked, they're not quite as crunchy as store-bought biscotti.

Most of the recipes I perused before selecting this one mentioned you can bake biscotti about two weeks in advance, and then store them in an airtight container at room temperature. I love flexible recipes that allow me to cook or bake when I have the time, and keep the finished goodies (or extras) for later, and these biscotti in particular seem like they would be the perfect sweet treats for wedding or shower favors.

Once I had a finished batch of mini biscotti, I set to work on DIY packaging...but that's a topic for another post! Do you have a favorite make-in-advance dessert recipe that would make a delish edible favor?

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