Friday, February 28, 2014

Cornmeal-pistachio biscotti and going back to dramaville

Cornmeal-pistachio biscotti / Biscotti de fubá e pistache

I try not to be such a creature of habit sometimes but apparently I fail miserably at it. After watching dark drama after dark drama, I felt I needed to take a breather – it was time for a comedy. To avoid repeating the mistake of months ago, I asked the lovely Amanda for some tips on comedies, and despite being a drama kind of gal like me she commented something about Community, Parks and Recreation (that one I already adore) and 30 Rock – I’ve read tons about the latter but never watched it, so I decided to start with it.

I watched the pilot and found it funny and clever; however, by the end of it I felt there was something missing – maybe the tight muscles or the teeth clenching, I don’t know. One day later I was back to dramaville, this time accompanied by Hellboy and Peggy Bundy – if that isn’t sheer perfection I don’t know what is. :D

Every time I feel like baking cookies I have to fight the urge of making biscotti – they are easy to make, taste great and can be kept in an airtight container for a good while – what’s not to love? I sometimes manage to vary a little but end up going back to my addiction – this time I was lured in by the addition of cornmeal to the dough, which turned out to be a delicious idea.

Cornmeal-pistachio biscotti
slightly adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

125g pistachios
¼ cup (56g) cold unsalted butter
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar
1 large cold egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Amaretto
1 ¼ cups (155g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fine cornmeal – I used corn flour (not corn starch)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 165°C/325°F. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
Roast the pistachios on a small baking sheet until they are fragrant. Finely chop ¼ cup of the nuts; coarsely chop the remainder.
In a medium bowl, barely cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and Amaretto.
In a separate bowl, combine the nuts, flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until homogenous.
Divide the dough in half. Roll the dough into logs about 2.5cm (1in) in diameter. The dough should be cold enough to handle without difficulty, though you may need to dust the counter with a little additional flour if the logs start to stick.
Place the logs on the baking sheet, spacing them at least a few inches apart; they will swell considerably. Bake until slightly brown and firm on the surface, but yielding to light pressure, 15-20 minutes. Rotate the pan if they are browning unevenly. Don’t underbake, or the baking powder will not complete its job, and the cookies will be hard and dense rather than crisp and with a great coarse texture.
Slide the paper with the logs to a wire rack and let cool for 5-8 minutes. Turn the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F.
Slice the logs on an angle about 1.25cm (½in) thick. Line the warm baking sheet with baking paper. Place the biscotti cut side down on sheet and bake for another 5 minutes or so to brown lightly. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Makes about 30

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