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Sincere Acts of Sweetness

March 26, 2009

Pistachio, Cranberry, and Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Even though I'm usually thinking about baking the majority of my time, I do have a day job that's about as far away from baking as one can get. I work in the world of technology as a business analyst and one of the interesting things about my job and the company I work for is that each time I'm assigned to work on a project, I get to work with a different group of other IT professionals. These include functional analysts, developers, testers, product management professionals, designers, and information architects, among others. The majority of my teammates work in the same building as I do in Washington state, but several work in other branches as far away as Georgia and Texas.
Over the past few months I have been working hard on a little project with a tight-nit goup. Several times a week we used to get together on conference calls to discuss things and the subject of my baking would usually come up. Now if you're a frequent reader of this blog, you'll know that I've been a bit busy making all sorts of crazy treats the last few months. It seemed like each time we talked, everyone was enjoying something I brought in to share. Unfortunately it's been a bit of a tease for those that can only see my baked goods via my blog. One afternoon a few weeks ago, I had a chat with Josh (one of our very talented information architects who is based in Atlanta) who told me about his upcoming birthday plans to go to France and Italy for a few weeks. I took this off-hand comment as the perfect opportunity to stop teasing him and instead treat him to something special. He graciously accepted my offer and sent me his mailing address.
Josh told me that one of his favorite desserts is chocolate and pistachio cake. Since a cake wouldn't ship very well, I thought that biscotti would be a good compromise. I made the biscotti over the weekend and brought some one to share. At first I was a little worried that I had done something wrong with the recipe because the cookies weren't as notoriously dry as most biscotti tends to be. Now, don't get me wrong, these cookies were very dry when compared to just about any other cookie I've ever made. It was just that they had a little bit of give to them that made them easier to eat. To my surprise, I received several comments from coworkers that really enjoyed the cookies because of their added moisture. A few even commented that they didn't even like biscotti until they tried these. So I'm not sure if I did something wrong or if that's just what really fresh biscotti is supposed to taste, but whatever it is, it's a good thing (especially when dipped into hot coffee or tea).

Happy Birthday Josh! We appreciate all the hard work you do and hope you have an wonderful vacation!

Pistachio, Cranberry, and Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Yield:You could get about 35 to 40 cookies out of this recipe.
adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg, separated, at room temperature
1 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sweetened cranberries, chopped
1 cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon of sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat the eggs, one egg yolk, and the sugar on medium speed until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and add the chocolate, cranberries, and pistachios until thoroughly mixed. Don’t be alarmed if the dough looks dry. Do not be tempted to add additional moisture!

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or with parchment paper.

Using floured hands (the dough will be very sticky!), divide the dough into two or three equal portions (I recommend using a scale to make sure my potions were the same but you can eye-ball it too). On a lightly floured surface, shape each log so that it’s about 1 1/2 inches wide. If you're making two logs, they each be about 12 1/2 inches long. If you’re making 3 logs, they should each be about 8 inches long. Take care in making sure that the width is consistently 1 1/2 inches wide from the top to the bottom of the log. This will ensure consistent baking.

Place the logs on the baking sheet about 3 inches apart. In a small bowl, beat the reserved egg-white with a folk until frothy. With a pastry brush, glaze each log with the egg white and sprinkle with the reserved 1 teaspoon full of sugar (don’t feel pressure to use all the sugar, only what you need to get an even coating).

Bake the logs for 15 minutes and rotate the pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Bake for 10 more minutes and check to see if they are lightly golden brown, form to the touch (especially in the center) and just beginning to crack. If they are not, continue baking checking every 5 minutes.

Turn off the oven, remove the pan, and let it cool on a baking rack until they are cool enough to touch – about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200F. With a sharp, serrated knife (I highly recommend using an an offset serrated knife if you have one), slice each biscotti (on the bias if you want) into 1/4 inch slices. Julia’s Tip: The handle of most wooden spoons just happens to be about 1/4 inch wide. This helped me to consistently measure each slice.

Arrange the cookies back on the baking sheet (using the same parchment or Silpat mat) in a single layer. Return them to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until they are toasted and slightly crisp. Cool the cookies completely on the cookie sheets, then store them in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

Note: I do not recommend doubling this recipe unless you have a KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixers or KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixers. If you have a KitchenAid Classic Plus White Stand Mixer like I do, it really struggles to mix all the ingredients together.

Oh, one last thing to add: I sent a box of these cookies to my sister in North Carolina. She told me that she gave one to my four year old nephew, in spite of the fact that she wasn't sure that he'd like it. She told him that they are called biscotti and after taking one bite, he looked at her and said, "Hey, these biscotti should be called cookies!" This gave me quite the belly laugh!


  1. Out of the mouths of babes!! They look awesome, what lucky co-workers to get to try your treats! They must love you! This looks fantastic!

  2. I love your nephew's comment! :)

    I wish I had a few of these right now. They look so pretty and I love the flavor combination!

  3. Love your blog. I have been reading it for a while now and I love your recipes, comments on them, and little hints and tips that you give. Now a tip for you, if you want really crunchy biscotti, you have to double bake them. After you bake the logs and cut them up, you have to place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake them a second time to achieve super crunchyness. Personally, I sometimes only do the first bake because like many of your co-workers mentioned, sometimes it is nice to have a little give in the cookie. But, if you really want to use it for dunking, then the second bake is really necessary.

  4. the colours in your biscotti are fab. It looks absolutely delightful!

    Katie xox

  5. Ha-ha! Don't they say the cutest things?! :-)

    Julia you're such a great person...hope you know and are told often!

  6. Packed with goodness! Love the colors in this biscotti!

  7. HA-HA!! Kids are hysterical sometimes.

    I love bringing things into work for my co-workers too and your co-worker in Atlanta was really lucky.

  8. Thanks for the handle tip - I can never seem to cut straight - or not overbake biscotti!

  9. Julia, this was the sweetest thing for you to do!! I'm sure your gift was well received. I mean, these biscotti look totally delicious I love the flavor combo you've got going on!! I know I could eat about 10 of these in one sitting.

  10. It tasted great!!!
    I would like to try baking these one day!!

  11. hello!
    thanks for your comments on my blog
    your blog is looks pretty darn good too
    you know I have yet to make bicotti--how weird is that?
    happy baking!

  12. the pistachios look so beautiful! i love the colors :)

  13. Yum-O! I'm thinking these could be tweeked a bit to be diet friendly! I may have to try this on Sunday!

  14. Julia, thanks for the offer of starter, I am not sure what I would use if for as I am a bit of a dork when it comes to bread type stuff, but thanks for the offer anyway.

    If you ever want any fern or hosta from my yard let me know (good for shade or partial shade) I will be splitting them soon (I could even plant it for you).

    Vaughan and I made the banana bread yesterday, it turned out too dark around the edges as I was a dork yet again and did not read the temperature and time directions close enough. I will be trying it now, I think it will still be good. At least the house smells wonderful!

  15. I love biscotti, and yours look wonderful. I love all of those colors. My friend and I made some with nutella and hazelnuts today!

  16. I want to be on your team! Or have you come work with mine! I'm not picky! As always, your culinary adventures are so fun to read about and you're quite an inspiration!

  17. I just finished making these - although I used raw cashews instead of pistachios because it's what I had on hand. Yum! I made 2 3 1/2" wide, 8-9" long loaves and sliced them thin like you did. I had to add 5 min to the cooking time but it worked out perfectly. Thanks! I will be trying different ingredients also!


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