Biscotti are the perfect gift for Santa Claus and your holiday table and the best part is that from one basic dough, an array of different biscotti can be made ahead of time without much effort. From one dough you can make almond biscotti, mixed dried fruit biscotti, white chocolate chunk, and chocolate and candied orange peel biscotti. But don’t stop there, come up with your own special ingredients to add to the basic dough and have a stress-free biscotti baking good time. Biscotti make great gifts. To make them extra special give them in clear cellophane bags tied with Christmas ribbon, or arrange them in gift boxes. And don’t forget to leave a plate of biscotti for Santa.
About 4 dozen
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brandy
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup diced dried fruit such as apricots, cherries, raisins or figs
1/2 up slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
1/2 cup diced orange peel
Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand held mixer 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 on medium speed.
Remove half of the dough from the mixer to a bowl. On low speed blend in the vanilla to the remaining dough 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.
Remove the vanilla flavored dough from the wax paper and divide it in half. 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
Divide the chocolate dough in half. To one half add chopped white chocolate to the second half add diced orange peel (or combination with grated orange peel)
Roll the doughs on a lightly floured surface into ropes about 12 to 14 inches long and 1 1/2-inches wide.
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 for ten minutes before slicing them crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices
Place the biscotti back on the baking sheets and toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until they lightly brown. Remove and cool.
To glaze biscotti:
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a simmer in a double boiler. Turn off heat. Place 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped white chocolate and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a heat proof bowl and place it 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. Allow the biscotti to dry well on a cooling rack.