Some of my most memorable recipe breakthroughs are a result of error, mistakes, and happenstance. I try to reframe even the most upsetting accidents as a potential victory or chance for growth: Does it help me examine a recipe or dish from another angle? Is there something I can learn from my failure? Can I repurpose my mistake in some way? The answer is yes!
In the process of revising my favorite biscotti recipe, I accidentally doubled the amount of butter and sugar. Butter isn’t even a traditional ingredient in biscotti, so what happens when you add twice as much? In the oven, the log spreads like inching lava, finally settling into a flat, bronzed disc. Once the disk is cooled, sliced into thin spears, and baked again, the result is a super-crisp cookie, studded with toasted fennel seeds, dark chocolate, and whole hazelnuts.
A small tumbler of vin santo or espresso for dunking would be a heavenly accompaniment. Cheers to happy accidents and faux biscotti.
makes twenty-five to thirty 5-inch (12.5 cm) cookies | 30 minutes active time |2 hours
2 eggs (100 g), at room temperature
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/115 g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (6 g) fennel seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (100 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25 g) almond flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (130 g) hazelnuts
5 ounces (140 g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
Flaky sea salt
1. Separate one of the eggs. Set the white aside to be used for brushing on the cookies later.
2. Cream the wet ingredients. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer), beat the butter, sugar, and fennel seeds until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes. Scrape the mixer bowl with a spatula. Drop in the whole egg, the yolk, and the vanilla and beat to combine, another minute.
3. Incorporate the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Tip the mixture into the stand mixer and beat on the lowest speed until the ingredients are halfway combined and the flour looks streaky, 8 to 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, add the hazelnuts and chocolate chunks, and stir in by hand. Transfer the dough to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 4 days).
4. Preheat the oven and prep the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Top a half-sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and lightly mist the paper with cooking spray.
5. Bake the cookies. Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and shape into a 12-by-3-inch (30 by 7.5 cm) rectangle 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Brush the surface of the dough with the lightly beaten reserved egg white and sprinkle the surface with flaky sea salt. Bake the mound until the edges are deeply browned and the center is slightly puffed but baked through, 35 to 40 minutes (the dough will spread quite a bit). Let the cookie cool completely.
6. Cut and bake the cookies a second time. Using a serrated bread knife, slice the cookie, on a diagonal, into batons 6 inches (15 cm) long and about ¾ inch (3 cm) wide. Arrange the batons, cut side up, on the pan, tightly packed together. Return to the oven and bake until lightly golden on the surface, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store, tightly covered,
at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Like granola, these spears are a great pantry-cleaner. Play around with inclusions to create your own custom riff. Add ½ teaspoon each of two different extracts (like almond or coconut); substitute polenta or rice flour for the almond flour; trade whole almonds or walnuts for the hazelnuts; incorporate dried fruits and citrus zest instead of chocolate; or sprinkle the cookies with sesame seeds or powdered sugar.
Excerpted from More Than Cake by Natasha Pickowicz (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023.
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