Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nut & Seed Biscotti

This is my favorite biscotti to make. Heidi Swanson, you're a genius. Few ingredients, few steps, a beautiful batter. About the "beautiful batter" comment. I need to explain that I was an anti-cook for most of my life. I did little of it because I didn't enjoy it. My mother never taught me how to cook (probably because she herself did not enjoy it). But it's just as well because the things I cook now and the things she cooked couldn't be further apart on the spectrum.

One of my initial eureka moments in cooking came while mixing the batter for this biscotti. This is going to be hard to explain. The batter is very simple, with nuts and seeds making up the majority of it. It looks good enough to eat raw, and it just somehow struck me that this was a beautiful creation.

I think part of it is the end result ... the eating part. It's not just that it's beautiful sitting there in the bowl in raw form, but also knowing that you're going to relish tasting and consuming it as well. And that the ingredients are healthy and therefore satifying. The worse part of this process is ... the cleanup! Thud. Back to earth.

Seriously, this is the best snack food ever. And simple to make.

First, toast the seeds and nuts:

Then mix the dry and wet ingredients separately:

Add the nuts & seeds to the dry batter. For this batch, I also threw in some dried fruit (apricots):

Add the dry into the wet:

Now plop it into the loaf pan:

And smoosh it down with wet fingers:

After it bakes the first time, slice it up:

And lay the slices on a sheet pan and brush with olive oil, bake a few minutes on one side (then you'll turn them over, brush the new sides with oil and bake again):

Nut & Seed Biscotti
(from Heidi Swanson's 101cookbooks blog, slightly adapted)

1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds, lightly toasted*
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup natural cane sugar (I use a tad less than this)
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing slices

First, lightly toast the nuts and seeds on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven (should take 5-8 minutes). Set aside to cool a bit.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, nuts and seeds, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined (this takes some elbow grease). Dump the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Using wet fingers press the dough into place, making sure it's nice and compact (no air bubbles) and level on top.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Increase the oven temp to 425 degrees after removing the loaf.

Remove the loaf from the pan/parchment paper and put it on a cutting board. Using a thin, sharp serrated knife, slice the loaf into 1/4-inch thick slices (should create about 20 or so slices). Place the slices on a baking sheet (the same one used to toast nuts/seeds will work fine) and brush the top sides lightly with the olive oil. Bake in the 425-degree oven for about 3-4 minutes. Take the sheet out of the oven, flip over the slices, and brush the other sides with the olive oil. Bake for another 4 minutes.

*I like to use 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, 1/4 cup chopped cashews, 1/3 cup almond slivers, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds.
For the photos above, I used what I had left of my supplies which was: 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, 1/8 cup almond slivers + chopped cashews, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/3 chopped dried apricots.

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