Saturday, March 3, 2012

Between a Crisp and a Hard Place

Growing up, I remember both my mom and my grandmother being obsessed with biscotti. I assumed the addiction was sort of like coffee ... an acquired taste. When you got old.

Well now that I am old, I have a minor obsession with both coffee and biscotti. I can't get enough of either (though luckily the biscotti hasn't become a daily habit like the coffee). Bill's been feeding my addiction by bringing home biscotti from the bakery at the Public Market every time he heads downtown. But as delicious as those biscotti are, I've had a hankering for homemade.

On one of my trips to the Public Market with Bill a few weeks ago, I came across these awesome little candied ginger nibs at the Spice House. They were sitting next to a recipe for ginger pecan biscotti, so I had to snatch that up. Little did I know that it would only serve as inspiration.

I took a stab at the recipe I grabbed from the Spice Market. But take a look at these ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup candied ginger nibs
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Theirs vs. Mine
Do you see the problem? A couple of eggs and a teaspoon of ginger are my only liquid ingredients? Something didn't seem right ... and upon taking them out of the oven, something didn't taste right.

Aside from the wet to dry ingredient ration, there were a couple other problems with this recipe. The 400 degree baking temperature was a bit extreme, and the ground ginger plus ginger nibs made the cookies just a bit too ... ginger-y. I knew these biscotti had potential, and I'm never satisfied with a failed recipe, so I turned to a tried and true source for something I could work with - Martha Stewart.

Martha gave me what I knew would be a no-fail recipe that I tweaked to suit my needs. I took the base of her biscotti, added some stuff to suit the flavors I was after, and voila! I had perfect ginger pecan biscotti AND a recipe all my own!

Where the original biscotti came out of the oven brittle and crisp and a bit too zesty, my recipe was everything biscotti should be ... dense, hard, and the perfect blend of ginger-y, citrus-y, nutty flavor! And yes, there is a major difference between "crisp" and hard." Crisp cookies have their place, but they're dry, brittle, and crumby. Hard cookies, like biscotti should be, are dense and smooth. I'm super happy to have achieved just that!

Ginger Pecan Biscotti
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup candied ginger nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, then stir in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until well combined. Stir in lemon zest, pecans, and ginger nibs until combined.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Shape into a log, about 14 by 3 inches. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm, lightly browned, and slightly cracked on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 15 minutes.

Transfer log to cutting board and using a sharp serrated knife, cut biscotti on a diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange slices on baking sheet and bake another 15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time. Allow to cool on a wire rack.


  1. You know what these need? A nice custom homebrewed latte. And you know where you can get one of those? My place. You bring the biscotti, I'll make the latttes. I can even make spiked lattes.

    1. Spiked lattes?! OK! I'm in the process of concocting some new biscotti flavors, so I might bring a variety and you can be my taste tester.

  2. Now I'm imagining all the things you could dip these in..chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter. Or put them on top of ice cream, or in a parfait... it's endless!