Sometimes you get an idea for something you want to cook or bake and you get right into the kitchen and get it done. And it’s great, totally delicious on the first try.
But then other recipes involve a whole lot of trial and error. And maybe a few less than perfect cheese plates along the way. It’s rough, this life I’m living.
It’s not that my first attempts were bad. I just had a very clear vision of what these magical biscotti should be. I wanted nutty, crunchy, savory, and just a tad sweet. Fennel seeds, golden raisins, loads of almonds. Fresh rosemary and barely smashed black peppercorns that you’ll be finding between your teeth for an hour. Sturdy enough to hold up to some oozy, stinky cheese. An afternoon snack, a vehicle for cheese, or a crisp late night accompaniment to a glass of wine: these crackers had big shoes to fill.
And finally, on my fourth go-around, I got it right. These biscotti finally have the crunch I was seeking and the flavors I craved. They are crisp without being crumbly, nutty, peppery, and complex. My cheese plates will never be the same.
Other than all the add-ins, these biscotti are made from just a few ingredients: flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and eggs. I tried a batch with olive oil and another with some butter and the results were astounding…this is a baked good that is better without added fat. Whoa, that’s a life-changer.
Blend eggs and sugar. Mix in dry ingredients, along with rosemary, fennel, and pepper. Stir in the almonds and raisins. Divide the dough in half and pat into 2 logs. If your dough is slightly sticky and a touch difficult to handle, you’re on the right track. Dampen your hands and show it who’s the boss.
Bake the logs and allow to cool. Your patience will pay off; if rushed, these are a nightmare to slice.
My cheese plate, perfected. It’s the dawn of a new and glorious era.
- 1 tsp. Black Peppercorns
- 2 tsp. Fennel Seeds
- 2 c. All Purpose Flour
- ¼ c. Cornmeal
- 1½ tsp. Baking Powder
- 1¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, minced
- 3 Eggs
- ¼ c. Sugar
- 1 c. Whole Almonds
- ¾ c. Golden Raisins
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Crush peppercorns and fennel using mortar and pestle or place them in a ziplock bag and lightly smash with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Don't completely pulverize the spices, the little bursts of pepper and fennel are nice as you eat the biscotti.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, rosemary, crushed peppercorns, and fennel.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together eggs and sugar until well combined, about 1 minute on high speed. Lower the speed and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in almonds and raisins.
- Divide the dough in half. Form each half into an 8 inch log and place on the prepared baking sheet. The dough will be a little on the sticky side, wetting your fingertips will make this task more manageable. Bake until the logs are lightly golden, about 30 minutes. Cool for an hour (or more) before proceeding.
- Cut the logs in ¼ inch increments. I find a sharp chef's knife makes a cleaner cut than a serrated bread knife (which would be my first thought). Place the biscotti back on the lined baking sheet and return to a 350° oven for 18-20 minutes, until crisp and golden. Cool and serve with cheese or snack on them plain. Biscotti will last a week or so in an airtight container at room temperature.