Saturday, October 17, 2020

Cornmeal Biscotti, Quarantine Kitchen

 So, I still don't know what day it is, but I do know that I went to Trader Joes' the other day and picked up a small packet of cornmeal biscotti.  Now, I know, I should make these myself, but I really wanted to see what they tasted like and whether I would even like them.  They were your standard hard-as-a-rock biscotti, with a little bit of a sandy cornmeal texture, and not many identifiable nuts.  But, it got me thinking that for what I paid for these 12 biscotti I could be manufacturing 100's of them them in my own kitchen.  
Today was another hot day here in San Diego, so weird for October.  
Normally we see the ocean and the freeway here, but tonight we are fogged in

I'd made a batch of Marcella Hazan's broccoli potato soup for dinner but really wanted to try to make some biscotti, my way.  I trolled the internet for some ideas, and this recipe is a winner, thanks to David Leibovich and his wonderful blog.  I did adapt it a bit since I like a more buttery taste, and I used my favorite nuts, pistachios.  I think these would be great with an addition of dried cherries, or cranberries for the holidays, and pecans would be a nice sub for the pistachios.  

Quarantine Cornmeal Biscotti
Makes about 40

5 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon paste (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract) 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped salted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with silicone or parchment paper. 
In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar salt, and eggs, until combined. Add the extract and lemon paste.  
Add the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and pistachios.  
Shape the dough into two logs about 13-inches long.  (they will expand in the oven)

They don't look like much, but they expand in the oven
Bake for 20 minutes until set.  
Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees, and allow the logs to rest for 20 minutes.  

Cut the logs into 1/2-inch cookies, and arrange on the baking sheet --- I like to follow my friend Lora Brody's way of doing this and standing them upright.  Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.  
The biscotti will keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks, or you can freeze them for up to 2 months.  

So, a few notes here, if you wish to add dried fruit, about 1/2 cup will work well.  A drizzle of bittersweet chocolate would also be spectacular on these once they are cooled.  I've been using salted butter for cookies lately, and the difference is really interesting---deeper flavor for chocolate chip cookies, and vanilla cookies.  These also benefitted from the salted butter.  If you only have unsalted butter, use 1/2 teaspoon salt, rather than the 1/4 teaspoon.  
What is Lemon Paste, you ask?  

Neilson and Massey who make my favorite vanilla paste, have come out with a lemon paste, a combo of zest and extract---use it as you would extract, you'll get a nice punch of flavor.  I have used this in cakes, and these cookies, and am sold!  
So, we are into October, and Dr. C. and I have canceled our trip to Maui at Thanksgiving---I'm not whining, we are just sad for our country and the number of people who are sick and have died. Please wear your mask, stay safe, stay well and VOTE.   

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