EDITOR’S NOTE: These were relatively easy to make, especially since you can do the batter up to one day in advance. Adding pepper to a cookie recipe may sound strange, but the flavor is very understated — it leaves a little tingle on the tongue and adds to the savoriness of these tasty treats.
If you haven’t made biscotti before, make sure you get the middle cooked through on the first bake. On my initial attempt, the center wasn’t quite set and I had some messy (if still tasty) biscotti on my hands.
Makes about 3 ½ dozen
1 ¾ cups all purpose unbleached flour
½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
1/8 t salt
1 ½ t freshly ground pepper
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 t grated orange peel
1 ½ t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
1 ½ cups walnuts, lightly toasted & coarsely chopped
Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in pepper. Using electric mixer, cream butter in another bowl until light. Gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in orange peel and vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in walnuts. Add dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 baking sheets. Divide dough in half and form loaves about 12-14 inches long and 2-2 ½ inches wide. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool and turn heat down to 325 degrees. Slice loaves in ½” to ¾” wide slices and place cut side down on baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes and turn slices. Bake for 5-7 minutes more or until golden. Cool completely and store in airtight containers.
¼ cup diced glazed cherries (or substitute with dried cranberries)
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried apricots, snipped into small pieces before measuring
¼ cup currants
3 T Pedroncelli Port
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 ½ t vanilla
1 t orange extract
½ t almond extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ t baking powder
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped if large pieces
Combine fruit with Port in small bowl and set aside for 4 hours or overnight.
Cream shortening and sugar. Mix in vanilla, orange and almond extracts. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix flour and baking powder and gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in fruit and chopped pecans. Chill four hours or overnight (I recommend overnight.).
Divide dough in quarters and form into loaves approximately 14 inches long by 2 inches wide. Place two loaves on a lightly sprayed baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently flatten logs with a spatula or your palms. Dough is sticky so flour hands and worktop.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown; lower oven temperature to 325 degrees; cool loaves and then cut into 1/3 inch slices. Place cut side down and return to oven and bake 15 minutes longer or until lightly toasted–turn them over about halfway through.
Cool and store in airtight container. Makes about 8 dozen.