Gluten-free biscotti seems to be one of the few GF baked goods that I have mastered. Biscotti is amazingly simple, and it’s a great little nibbler. As a kid, I didn’t like biscotti – not because of the hardness or anything, but I think it was because most biscotti seems to have anise extract, and I really don’t like the taste of licorice. It makes me vaguely nauseous, for whatever reason. But yeah, I didn’t like it as a kid, though somewhere along the way I decided that it was worth trying to make.
A few years ago I purchased a book called The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball. I found it at the UW Tacoma bookstore, of all places, on clearance for four dollars or something, and it looked pretty awesome. It has side-by-side grid comparisons on different ingredients in a particular recipe, showing the results of using x-amount of butter versus margarine, or white sugar versus brown sugar. It’s pretty awesome. And so far, the recipes I have tried in it have been really good, not bland or anything, but definitely a good basis from which to experiment. Awesome stuff.
I made these based on the biscotti recipe in this book, using Gluten Free Mama’s Coconut Blend and some xanthan gum. I had to add a little water to the original recipe because mine turned out a bit dry, even after adding another tbsp of butter to compensate for the generally dryer tendency of the flour. All-in-all, it’s a really awesome recipe to start out with if you’re new to the GF baking thing.
2 cups Gluten Free Mama’s Coconut Blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup almonds (slivered, sliced, or whole)
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp anise extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water
Adjust a rack to the center position and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nuts in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, butter, and anise or vanilla and whisk to fully combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix to combine until a rough dough forms.
Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead a couple of times, or until the dough comes together. (This is where you would add the water if the ingredients aren’t sticking together enough – one tbsp at a time, make sure that all the water is incorporated before adding more.) Start to form the dough into a big, fat cigar and cut it in half. Form each half into a cigar shape or log about 1 inch thick, 2 inches wide, and about 12 inches long. Place logs onto the cookie sheet and press lightly with your fingers to slightly flatten.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The bars (cigars) will be firm to the touch and just slightly browned. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 300°F. Let the bars cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
Remove the bars to a cutting board using two spatulas. Using a serrated knife, cut the bars diagonally into slices about 1/2 inch thick to form the biscotti. Lay them back on the cookie sheet with either cut side down and place back in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn each cookie to expose the other cut side and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. The cookies will take on the slightest bit of color and feel firm and dry. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.
I tried one of them, and it was pleasantly sweet from the coconut flour, but it seemed to be missing something, so I did an extra little something to make them all the more special.
20 pieces of Dove dark chocolate (I pretty much always have a couple of bags of Dove chocolate from the holiday bags that go on clearance. Doing the piece kind rather than the bars makes tempering chocolate using the seeding method much easier because you don’t have to worry about weighing things out)
glass or metal bowl
Unwrap 16 pieces of Dove dark chocolate and place them in the bowl. Place the bowl over a sauce pan that is just large enough for the bowl to sit on top of without touching the inch of water inside. Turn the water onto medium and stir the chocolate as it melts. As it starts to really melt, stick the thermometer in and keep stirring the chocolate until everything is melted and the thermometer reads 120°F. Remove bowl from the pan, and quickly unwrap the remaining four chocolates (you want a ratio of 1/4 the amount of chocolate you originally put into the bowl for seeding) and add them to the bowl. Stir the chocolate constantly, and as the seeding pieces become incorporated into the melted chocolate, keep an eye on the thermometer. Once it hits 85°F, you should have perfectly tempered chocolate. You’ll notice that it’s getting a bit thick and harder to stir. Go ahead and take the sauce pan with its cooling water off the stove and put the bowl back in it for a minute or so, stir the chocolate until it’s a bit more liquidy. You don’t want to heat it to more than 89°F or else you’ll lose your temper. Take each biscotti and dip the bottom/one end into the chocolate, gently scrape the excess off with the spatula without uncovering any particular spot, and put the biscotti on wax paper or a silicone baking sheet to set. The chocolate should take on a nice shine and set quickly. After that, go ahead and put them in pretty boxes or bags to give to people, or just scarf them down because they’ll make you so much happier than you can imagine.