Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Twice Cooked

These little puppies were the talk of the season 'round these parts, boys and girls.

I decided that my contribution to the Christmas baking was going to be some biscotti, and I was going to do one savory and one sweet.  I expected to like the savory black pepper and parmesan biscotti much more than these chocolate orange pecan ones, but the opposite was true.  Where the parmesan ones never had quite the crispness that I wanted, these sweet concoctions were perfect every time.  They're just the right amount of hard, without being the pieces of shrapnel that will tear apart your mouth, they melt perfectly in coffee or hot chocolate, they keep well, and they're pretty easy to make.  I would seriously recommend trying them next time you've got a few hours free and want something to impress.  Either yourself, or guests.  If you must.

I just adore my mom's Kenwood "Chef", from the fifties.  With only a few mild tune-ups from over the years it's still the best mixer we own.  I've told my parents that this exact piece of hearty machinery is what I want my wedding present to be from them!

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (I used Tripe Sec)
1 tablespoon grated orange peel (basically just the rind of a whole orange)
1 cup pecans, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped

I didn't actually end up using this Suisse chocolate, but I'm sure they'd be equally good with a bit of nougatty goodness too.

Stir your flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using your electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in large bowl to blend.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the orange liqueur and orange peel. Add the flour mixture and beat until blended. Stir in your chopped toasted pecans (I dry-fried mine cause I don't know how else to toast a pecan) and chopped chocolate. Divide your dough in half, wrapping each in plastic.  Freeze your little packages for twenty minutes to firm. Now you can preheat your oven to 350°F.

Orange-y goodness going in.
The addition of chopped chocolate and toasted chopped pecans.
Just a few turns of the mixer and there you have it!
All snug as some bugs in some rugs.
Using floured hands, form each package of dough into 14-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them two inches apart. Bake until light golden, about thirty minutes. Transfer parchment with logs to a cooling rack and let them cool for twenty minutes. Turn the oven down to 300°F. 

Ball-parking it should do it, there's no need for them to be too pretty or too uniform.
When your logs are cool, transfer them to a big cutting board and using serrated knife, cut the log on the diagonal into half-inch-thick slices. Stand slices upright back on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining log. 

Slice and slice and slice.  It is your privilege to eat the ends and any pieces that don't maintain their structural  integrity.
Arrange nicely and then cram in whatever's left.
Bake again (biscotti means twice cooked, your fun fact for the day!) for about thirty minutes. Cool completely on rack.  While they're cooling, make a pot of coffee.  Devour whilst dipping into said coffee.  

To be consumed preferably three-at-a-time.
 There you have it boys and girls!  Simple, delicious, and arguably acceptable as part of this complete breakfast.  Enjoy!  And let me know how they turn out for you if you try them.  Variations too!


Your friend Lina

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