Thursday, March 22, 2007

Biscotti's endless variations...

I know, I know... yes I made yet another biscotti recipe today! Soon we will have to open up a recipe section just for them - I can't help it though, we both quite like the crunchy cookies! In this version of Cappuccino Biscotti, we added a little of this and a little of that to try to mimic the flavor found in the drink. Toasted chopped walnuts, mini chocolate chips and cinnamon chips were the add-ins of choice with the coffee flavor coming from instant espresso powder dissolved in an equal amount of hot water. Natural cocoa powder darkens the dough and adds a mild chocolate background to the crisp cookie strips. Unlike some past recipes, this dough was not nearly as wet and even took a few kneads on the counter-top for it to completely come together. While I'm used to working with more sticky doughs, I have to comment that this one was a complete breeze to roll and shape without having to wet my fingers at all.

When I went to slice the baked loaves, I used the same trick from one of the last recipes for biscotti that we made. Once they have cooled for a few minutes, the tops of the biscotti are lightly spritzed with water - this gently softens the outer crust and makes for extra clean slices without worrying about them crumbling. The mini chocolate chips make for good distribution through the biscotti, but I would probably chop up some good dark chocolate next time for a bigger bite of flavor.

We went breakfast-style for dinner tonight with a recipe for Oatmeal-Chai Buttermilk Pancakes. When I typically go to make pancakes, it is not something I need to think too much about or do much work as they are usually so quick to throw together. This recipe is the opposite as it takes some pre-planning to allow for the extra time needed. First, the chai flavors need to be infused into the milk for the recipe - this process of using a spicy combination of whole cloves, cardamom, a cinnamon stick, chunks of fresh ginger and black tea leaves takes around 20-25 minutes. When you begin to heat the milk, be sure to keep an eye on it - when it neared the 10 minute mark, I found I had to keep sliding the pot off the heat so it would not boil over. When the dry mixture is combined with the wet ingredients, it needs to sit for at least 15 minutes as the bulk of the dry is composed of rolled oats. This allows the oats to begin absorbing the delicately imbued liquid and soften. These golden circles are tender from the addition of buttermilk and have a hearty presence from the oats - however, they don't have that "light as air" quality to them. We actually enjoyed that as it made them considerably filling.

With a wallop of flavor in them, we just showered the stacks of pancakes with sweet confectioners' sugar as we felt no need to saturate them in heavy maple syrup.