5 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 1/4 cups King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brandy
4 tablespoons cocoa
In a stand mixer or in a bowl using a hand held mixer, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time on medium speed.
On a sheet of wax paper sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend well. Remove half of the dough from the mixer to a bowl. On low speed blend in the vanilla to the dough remaining in the mixer. Scoop the vanilla flavored dough onto a sheet of wax paper. Set aside.
Return the remaining dough to the mixer and on low speed blend in the brandy and the cocoa until the dough is a uniform chocolate color. Scoop the dough out onto a second sheet of wax paper.
Place the vanilla and chocolate doughs well-wrapped in the refrigerator and allow them to chill overnight or for at least 3 to 4 hours to make it easier to handle
All variations will take the same form of a log; if using 1/2 of either doughs, roll them about 12-14 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. If dividing the dough into quarters, roll the logs about 10 inches long; if you want really tiny biscotti, make the rolls longer in length-up to 15 inches.
Diced Fruit Biscotti
Remove the vanilla flavored dough from the wax paper and divide it in two. To one half mix in 1/2 cup of diced, dried, mixed fruits such as apples, pears, apricots, raisins and cherries.
To the second half add 1/2 cups slivered almonds or hazelnuts
Chocolate-filled Chocolate Biscotti
Divide the chocolate dough; to one half add chopped white chocolate
To the second half add diced orange peel (or combination with grated orange peel)
Instead of the two biscotti above, divide the chocolate doughs into thirds and use one of each type to make a braid. Bake then slice and bake again; dip into white chocolate.
Roll 1/2 of the chocolate dough into a log about 12-inches long. Sprinkle about I tablespoon of sesame seed over a work surface then roll the chocolate log on the seeds to evenly distribute them.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place two logs spaced 3-inches apart on each sheet. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake the logs for about 12-15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Allow the logs to cool before slicing them into 1/2-inch thick biscotti. Place the biscotti on their sides and toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes, turning them once to brown evenly. Remove the biscotti to a rack to cool.
Bring water to a simmer in a double boiler. Turn off heat. Place 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped white chocolate and I teaspoon vegetable oil in the top of the double boiler. Allow the chocolate to melt, then stir to blend the oil and chocolate. When smooth, dip the ends of biscotti in the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off. Let biscotti dry well.
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