A few days ago, I stopped by Wholefoods to fetch something and a smiling lady came up to me with a tray and offered me a very thin biscotti with a smidgeon of blue cheese on top. The biscotti was thin and hard, sweet, studded with almonds and raisins; the sweet cookie was a great vehicle for showcasing the distinct bleu cheese flavor of the cheese. I thought: HAH!!! I can do that!
So I did. Except mine is not hard. It is very crunchy but delicate, almost brittle. More flavorful too, because it has white pepper in it and other spices. Light, also, without oil or butter.
This recipe is my own. I took a basic recipe from Cook’s magazine, circa 1994, and tweaked it to death, trying different versions a hundred times (at least!). This is the final version and my favorite.
INGREDIENTS: Quantity will yield about 40 biscottis
- 3 large eggs (2 ounces each)
- 1 cup ofcornstarchand 1 1/4 cup (keep about 1/4 cup more for later) bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of ammonium powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup of sugar
- SPICES: 1 to 2 teaspoons ground white pepper (depending on whether you want the taste to be faint or assertive), 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or any brandy (you can use the brandy from the raisins)
- 6 ounces of almonds ( I like to peel them and toast them but this step can be skipped)
- 6 ounces of raisins, macerated for one hour or longer in a few tablespoons of brandy of your choice (I used a creme de cassis liqueur)
- Place the flour and all the other dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wire whisk.
- Set a large mixing bowl over a pan of almost simmering water. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl and stirring constantly, heat the eggs to lukewarm. Now beat the eggs until tripled in volume. I used a hand beater, so that I could beat the eggs while the bowl was on top of the (almost) simmering water.
- When the egg mixture is pale and all puffed up, remove the bowl and place on a flat surface.
- Add the flour and spice mixture through a sifter, little by little, to the egg mixture, folding it in with the wire whisk gently so as not to deflate the eggs too much.
- Add the almonds and drained raisins with a teaspoon of the macerating liquid.
- Form the dough into two logs, by shaping them with floured hands onto the parchment-lined sheet.
- Bake at 350F (180C) for about 30 minutes until golden and puffed up.
- Cool for half an hour. Cut in thin slices with a serrated knife. Place on the cookie sheet side by side and bake again in a 200F oven for about 45 minutes or until the biscottis are totally dry.
- Serve as is, or with a smidgeon of creamy bleu cheese. Keep in a metal box for a couple of weeks.
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