2/13/14

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

I love biscotti. It is the quintessential dunking dessert- a category of all things sweet that should and will be dunked in coffee. But I've gotten pretty lazy this semester. I'm still baking things, but I have been completely neglecting to take pictures. These I made right before class (literally I yanked them out of the oven and ran) so I hadn't the time to pause and snap photos along the way.
However, these pistachio and chocolate chip biscotti are freaking delicious. And really pretty, in their own way; when I saw them in Martha Stewart's Cookies, I immediately started shelling pistachios. Crunchy, fudgy, so rich they may be mistaken for brownies, and with pops of nutty pistachios, I figured the one picture would be enough.

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup shelled pistachios (toasted)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Baking Times: 25 minutes, and 8 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour.

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If the butter is frozen, melt it for 10 seconds on high in the microwave. *Watch it carefully. This works for me, but I'm not responsible for butter puddles inside your microwave.
2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
3. In another large bowl or a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs, beating slowly until well combined, then add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time until a stiff dough forms.
5. Stir in the pistachios and chocolate chips until well mixed. Press the dough towards the bottom of the bowl to combine well.
6. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into a flat log, about 14 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches tall (You may need to place it diagonally on the tray.)
7. Bake until firm and dry, about 25 minutes. Take it out and let cool for 5 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
8. Carefully, carefully lift the log onto a cutting board. You might need extra hands or a spatula for this one.
9. Cut out 1 inch slices diagonally across the log, to form the biscotti. While cutting, by careful of the pistachios, which can pop out or tear the loaf. Firm slices here!
10. Place the biscotti face down on the baking sheet, and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the centers are soft but cooked.
11. Let cool completely and enjoy!

2/12/14

Honey Challah Bread


I have entered the crazy, crazy world of yeast. Instead of making lots and lots of cookies and cakes, I'm trying to make, let's call them, practical things. Things I could eat for breakfast or lunch. And its been tricky. I've never been a huge fan of bread making; for some reason it seems to take all day and they never get that light, soft texture I hope for. This challah bread was actually the first homemade bread I was very satisfied with. I used a recipe I found on Food52, a fantastic food forum. The bread was delightfully soft and a tad sweet, perfect for toast with peanut butter in the morning. And because this batch makes two loaves, I froze one and it was fresh and hearty two weeks later!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 extra tablespoons divided
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey, plus 1 teaspoon extra
2/3 cup vegetable oil (any flavorless works fine)
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk for egg-wash

Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 4 hours

Instructions:
1. To 1 cup of warm water, add 2 teaspoons of sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside to proof (bubble).

2. Mix flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl, slowly to combine without flying in your face.
3. In smaller bowl, mix the remaining water, honey, oil, and eggs. I just used a glass. (Hmm, yummy...)
4. Add the yeast mixture to the flour, then the liquid-egg mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or a paddle attachment until well combined, about 30 seconds.
5. Add a dough hook and mix for 5-7 minutes, making sure to get all the bits at the bottom. If kneading by hand, drop dough onto a well floured surface and knead 7-10 minutes until smooth and pliable.
6. Split the dough in half and place in a two large bowls. Cover and set aside at room temperature to rise, about 2- 2 1/2 hours. It might take a little longer if the dough is completely whole wheat.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


 8. When the dough has risen, separate each half into 2 balls (total of 4). Roll each ball into equal lengths.
Put two rolls into a cross pattern.
Place the top right end between the two bottom ends.
Place the left bottom over the two.
Continue picking up one, placing it over one, pick up the other end and place it over two. Until the loaves form.

... Actually just watch this video, it explains plaiting a lot better than I can.


9. Place each loaf on a cookie sheet, and let rise again for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
10. Make the egg-wash: mix 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of honey. Brush the loaves lightly.


11. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the loaves are golden. I was worried mine would be underdone, so I left them in a little longer, and one cracked at the seams. Be careful!
Tada! 

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