Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spiced Pistachio Biscotti

It's dangerous living a block away from Cafe Rustica. This adorable bistro-style cafe is one of our favorite places to get breakfast on the weekends. I'm partial to their iced mocha and bagels with cream cheese and tomato slices, but I seriously would eat anything they served me. The guys who work there also rock - and remember my order, which I appreciate.

The last time we visited Cafe Rustica, Z and I admired the jars full of thick biscotti on the counter. We verbally made a pact then and there to make our own biscotti sometime soon. As luck would have it, a few days later I was flipping through an old issue of Cook's Illustrated, and saw a fairly easy recipe for homemade almond biscotti. A pistachio version was also included, so I decided to get into the kitchen and get creative.

Spiced Pistachio Biscotti
Yields: 15 cookies
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
-1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
-3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon garam masala
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 large egg, plus 1 white beaten with pinch salt
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
-1/2 teaspoon water
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable or canola oil spray

1.) Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease baking sheet and/or line with parchment paper.
2.) Pulse 1/4 cup of pistachios in food processor until coarsely chopped; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Process remaining 1/4 cup pistachios in food processor until finely ground. Pour finely ground pistachios into a bowl. Add flour, baking powder, salt, garam masala, and ginger; stir to combine.
3.) Process the egg in now-empty food processor until lightened in color and almost doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 minutes. Slowly add sugar until thoroughly combined. Add melted butter, water, and vanilla extract and process until combined. 
4.) Transfer egg mixture to medium bowl. Sprinkle half of flour mixture over egg mixture and, using spatula, gently fold until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and chopped pistachios and gently fold until just combined.
5.) Using floured hands, form the mixture into a 8 by 3-inch rectangle. Spray loaf lightly with oil spray. Gently brush top of loaf with egg white wash. Bake until loaf is golden and just beginning to crack on top, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
6.) Let loaf cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes. Transfer loaf to cutting board. Using serrated knife, slice loaf on slight bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices, cut side down, about 1/4 inch apart on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 30 minutes, flipping slices halfway through baking. Let cool completely before serving. Biscotti can be stored in airtight container for up to 1 month.

Although the Cook's Illustrated version calls for cardamom, black pepper, ground cloves, and cinnamon, I decided to use garam masala instead. The garam masala I have includes all of those spices anyway, plus cumin and coriander. The kick of exotic spice from the garam masala complemented the pistachios wonderfully. 

I still have some practicing to do when it comes to slicing the biscotti (I also may have overcooked mine by a few minutes - watch them carefully!), but I think my first attempt at making my own was pretty darn successful. The flavor combination in these cookies just can't be beat.

Have you ever made your own biscotti?

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