In the grand American tradition of Bigger is Better, commercial biscottiare sometimes the size of Little League bats with a durable texture to match.
In Italy, biscotti are more diminutive—about the size of a fat thumb. Valued as “good keepers,” these crisp cookies can hang out for a long time in the larder. They stand ready to be plunked into a cup of cappuccino, tea or even a glass of wine. The dip moistens the biscotti and further flavors them.
Biscotti attain their crunchy demeanor by two sojourns in the oven. “Bis” means “twice” and “cotti” means cooked. I’ve found that home-baked biscotti, while still crumbly, are not the tooth breakers that the manufactured ones can be.
Because bite-sized foods are so charming, I recently prepared some biscotti bambini—biscottini—as a hostess gift. I love that you don’t have to make a career out of eating one.
Chocolate-Drizzled Cherry Walnut Biscottini
Makes about 6 dozen
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dried chopped tart cherries or cranberries
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter, chopped
On a sheet of waxed paper, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a bowl, beat 1/4 cup butter and the sugar until smooth. Add the egg, beating until smooth. Add the milk and vinegar. Beat until smooth. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Stir in the walnuts and cherries or cranberries. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat a large baking sheet with no-stick spray. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With a pastry scraper, divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece of dough into a log 3/4 inch in diameter. Place the logs, separated, on the sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and set. Remove to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
On a cutting board with a serrated knife, cut each log into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices. Place the slices, cut sides down, on the baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until toasted. Remove to racks to cool.
In a small microwaveable bowl, combine the chocolate and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
Line a tray with waxed paper. Place the biscottini, close together, on the tray. Dip a fork into the chocolate glaze and wave it back and forth above the cookies to drizzle the tops. Allow to set before storing in a tin between layers of waxed paper.
Biscottini may be stored in an airtight container for several weeks or frozen in an airtight container for several months.