Monday, September 23, 2013

The Biscotti I Always Make

I just baked 3 batches of biscotti. Two are chocolate chip almond and one, of my own invention, is dark chocolate orange pecan. Whether I tweak (wouldn't it be funny if I made a typo and wrote "twerk"?) it or not, I have been using the same basic biscotti recipe since 2008.

The paper itself is stained and stiffened by flour and egg. Decorated with math computations and the phone number of someone who called on Baking Day, I look at this piece of time-worn paper and think, "I can't believe I printed this in color?"
I have probably baked about 120 batches. I bring them to dinner parties and reading groups. I pack them in suitcases and send them by mail. I bring them to Starbucks to accompany my grande non-fat latte because mine are better than theirs. If you and I are friends, there is a good chance that you will taste my home-baked biscotti. In the event, however, that we do not cross paths in that way, you now have the recipe. :)

For those of you who can't read through crumpled print:
3/4 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely (I use slivered almonds usually)
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
4 ozs semisweet or other chocolate (yeah, whatever! I just dump a bunch it till it looks like enough)
Preheat oven to 350. Toast almonds if not already lightly browned.
Line baking sheet with parchment

Using electric mixer or hand mixer:
Beat sugar and eggs on high about 5 minutes (wow, I never do it for that long!) so that when you raise beaters the batter falls like slow ribbons.
Beat in vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, bp, and salt. Add to egg mixture and beat until combined.
Fold in chips and nuts.

Transfer dough to parchment lined sheet. Form into a log about 12"L x 3-4" W. Dampen hands if dough is too sticky. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Put log on cutting board and get our serrated knife. Cut log into slices. Cut on diagonal making slices 1/2 - 3/4" thick. (I like them on thin side). Put back into oven for 6-10 minutes on one side. Then take out and flip over. Bake another 6 minutes or so. Better to bake on the side of caution. You want both sides toasty not burnt! The thicker your cut, the more time each side gets. Let cool on rack.
Eat, dunk, give away.

NOTE: If you google Joy of Baking and get to this Chocolate Almond recipe, the measurements have changed. I like the old recipe much better.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Dry weather conditions at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Today my daughter and I took the time to check out UCF, Florida's largest state university.The tour was scheduled for 2 p.m. It rains a lot during the summer, and afternoons are prime time for thunderstorms. Note to self: Do not plan a Florida college walking tour on a summer afternoon.

The rain started at about 2:20. An admissions counselor finished his general welcome and in walked five tour-leading students -- Edmund, Nick, and three girls. The students told us that we were unable to go on the actual tour because of the storm and would instead go on a virtual tour. The lights were dimmed  and the power point began. The students, thankfully, had a lot of personality which they integrated into the uninspired presentation, which included slide after slide of lackluster photos dotted with bullet points. They did a great job considering what they had to work with.

I understand that the frequent lightning strikes and hard rain made it impossible to go out. And I realize the weather is beyond anyone's control. But the substitute tour was an embarrassment! For such a well-respected institution that offers among its many majors, digital media, journalism, advertising, marketing, and hospitality management, and is located in Orlando, a city famous for its animated imagination... come on...step up Plan B! 

To the people that run the admissions and marketing departments of UCF, I recommend re-imagining the power point, updating your photography (I know some excellent photographers if you need names), adding some spirit with lively video and spiffy graphics. And then souvenir logo ponchos (like at FAU) would be awesome, just in case of a light drizzle.

(P.S. Because we arrived over an hour early, we did walk a bit of the campus, eat at the Student Union, and sit by the Reflecting Pool. Thank goodness we saw some of it in the flesh, otherwise I would have felt like the trip was a complete waste.)