Jersey Shore and Biscotti

At work a week and a half ago we had a Jersey Shore viewing party. If you don’t know about Jersey Shore, you’re probably better off, but I LOVE IT! Total guilty pleasure show, but I’m not as ashamed of it as you might think – or maybe as I should be. Anyways, I’m not alone at the office in my love of this trainwreck, so a few of us gathered to watch the gang travel to Atlantic City after work before the holiday weekend. I decided in honor of the occasion, I’d make some biscotti to munch on during our screening. (It didn’t really work out that way, the rest of my coworkers had depleted the supply by the time we actually watched. I just take that as a compliment.)

So let me back up a second, when I actually made these, I knew something had gone horribly wrong. That something was me failing to read the directions completely. I had originally been referencing from multiple recipes, and in none of them did I notice a tiny little detail before baking… (Side note, I like reading multiple recipes for the same thing so I can see where they vary and what I want to do. In some cases it’s really helpful – I’d say this is the number one “oy” among bakers when something goes wrong – make sure to read all directions before delving into a recipe – specifically this one. I’ve already made the mistakes for you, so you don’t have to suffer like I did.  Yes, I will point them out along the way.

That being said, everyone loved the biscotti. How do I know? Because on days I bake, I hear “I hate you” a lot more than on any other day at work. The good kind of hate. My boss even tried to conceal the container with the chocolate chip biscotti under his shirt as he walked back to his office from the kitchen. All good things.

So without further ado, I present my recipe which was adapted from Martha Stewart’s anise biscotti recipe

JERSEY SHORE APPROVED BISCOTTI (well, Jersey Shore viewing anyway)

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ground almonds (I ground up some slivered almonds)
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups sliced almonds – toasted (you could also use whole almonds and chop them in chunks)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate morsels (I went for mini because there’s more to spread around! Also, I only made one loaf chocolate chip – to do all chocolate chip, double the amount)

Preheat your oven to 350. While it was heating, I threw in the sliced almonds to toast. Talk about multi-tasking!

Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer.

Here was problem number one with making these. At first, I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough biscotti for everyone, so I was going to double a recipe. Then I decided I didn’t need to because Martha’s recipe seemed to yield more biscotti. Haha, I changed my mind a little too late because I’d already put double sugar and quadruple butter in the mixer. Way to make up your mind before starting, huh?

I decided to go with it. I figured extra butter wouldn’t hurt, because who likes breaking their teeth on biscotti, and who doesn’t like globs of butter? To compensate, I added the cup of almond flour. I would have added some in anyway, but probably not that much.

Anyway, you probably do not need the extra 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sugar I added. One cup will suffice, even 3/4 of a cup, though these turned out really yummy anyway. Sweet, but good. You could probably knock out some of the butter too if you’re taking out the sugar, but again they turned out good even with all the excess.

Next, I added the eggs and the almond and vanilla extracts. I added both for good measure. Almond is always my reason for craving these cookies, so I wanted these super almond-y, hence the extract, almond flour, and toasted almonds.

While those are going, mix all your dry ingredients in large bowl. Just whisk them until it looks completely incorporated.

Add the flour in 2 batches to your wet ingredients, and mix until incorporated.

Then I added the toasted almonds.

My dough was sticky and a little runny at this point. And…

HERE’S WHERE I DIDN’T READ THE DIRECTIONS. I knew I had to split the dough in half, and make 2 logs which I would bake side by side. What I didn’t read was they should be 16″ by 2″. What does it matter? you might ask. Well look at my picture. That’s about 12″ x 4 or 5″.

Then check out this picture from after the initial half-hour bake.

This is what not to do. I actually laughed when I saw them too. I thought I should have just refrigerated the dough a bit to keep it from spreading or something. No, in hindsight I probably should have made 3 or 4 logs instead of 2. Oh well!

So, back to the directions you should actually follow… Take half your dough, providing you want to keep it plain almond, and on parchment paper shape it into a 16″ x 2″ log. My pans weren’t big enough to do that anyway, but the key is you don’t want them to be wide because they spread in the oven. I left the remaining half in the mixing bowl and added in the cup of mini morsels, mixing by hand. (If you want all chocolate chip biscotti, double the morsels – should be a full 12 oz bag). Then I shaped that into a log as well, leaving some space between it and the one already on the sheet. Leave more space than I did, as you see they became siamese twins. (again, didn’t help that I made them too wide.)

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. (In this step, you’re not actually trying to bake the cookies all the way through, so don’t leave them in too much longer.) Then, take the tray out and let the loaves cool for half an hour. This is important, you can’t cut them if they’re too soft. My cookies started crumbling before I sliced them and it made transporting them for the 2nd bake a nightmare. NIGHTMARE! Oh, another hint… don’t try to lift the loaves onto a cooling rack. They just broke when I did that. I just turned a fan on the trays so they wouldn’t keep baking so much while cooling.

Since you have half an hour to kill, you can turn off your oven for now if you like. Or, you can just lower it to 300 F since you’ll be baking at that temp in a short while anyway.

Once they’re cooled, cut the loaves diagonally into 1″ thick slices (I didn’t have much diagonal room as you can see the dough was pretty horizontal). You can make them thicker or thinner if you wish, I was still trying to glean more cookies from each log instead of amassing the fewer mondo ones I’d ended up with.

Now here was an awesome tip from Martha. Normally when you bake biscotti, you bake the cookies on one cut side, then flip them and bake some more. She suggested putting cooling racks on the pans and baking, that way both sides get baked at once! Ingenious! If you can spare the racks, this made things much easier. I fit as many cookies onto each rack as I could so they’d bake all at once. I didn’t leave too much space between these because I figured the tops and bottoms were already pretty cooked, and the point was to make the middle part crispy. Make sure you lay them on their sides.

Remember, the second portion of the bake will be done at 300 F, so make sure you lower your oven temp before baking the second round.

I baked both trays at once, in the middle of the oven. They needed about 15-17 mins, but for smaller cookies you might not have to bake as long. I rotated top to bottom and back to front halfway through, to be fair.

Take them out, let them cool, and voila! They were perfect, not rock solid but still with a hearty crunch. The solid ones are better for dunking, but my coworkers enjoyed these just the same alternating crispy bites with sips of coffee.

I hope you enjoy these, flawed recipe and all, and please learn from my mistakes!

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