Hazelnut Biscotti {TWD-BWJ}

The first July recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie — Baking with Julia is one of my favorites: biscotti. I’ve made, and eaten, a lot of biscotti. There’s just something about dunking a crunchy biscuit into a steaming cup of coffee.

I used to think biscotti must be difficult to make, but they are actually quite simple. You mix up a quick dough, press it into a log shape on a pan, bake it, slice it, and bake again to crisp them up.

Since I discovered how simple they are to make, I’ve made many different biscotti, including several original biscotti recipes. So, I was really happy about this month’s first recipe — Hazelnut Biscotti.

I decided to make the biscotti on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t feel like running to the store. I didn’t have any hazelnuts, so I decided to use a snack mix from Trader Joe’s with macadamia nuts, almonds, dried cranberries, and candied ginger.

The first thing I noticed about this recipe was how wet the dough was. Biscotti dough is usually the consistency of biscuit or cookie dough — soft, but mailable, and easy to shape. The recipe said the dough would be stiff and sticky, but it was downright gloppy. I had a heck of a time shaping the dough into logs on the baking tray.

I knew it would bake up OK, but it was really an unpleasant dough to work with.

It wasn’t pretty after the first bake, but I knew it would slice up fine. I let the logs cool, then sliced them into individual biscotti.

I put the slices on a cooling rack, which I put in the oven to crisp up the biscotti. I liked the idea of baking the biscotti on a rack so the heat can circulate evenly around them to crisp them up.

The best part about these biscotti was the Trader Joe’s snack mix. The nuts, cranberries, and candied ginger gave the biscotti the only discernible flavor. Otherwise, they were quite bland.

Between the unworkably wet dough and the lack of flavor in the finished biscotti, this recipe is definetly not one that I will make again.

Our hosts this week are Jodi of Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina of Baking and Boys.

Three-way Gingersnaps {ModBak}

The second recipe I signed up to blog for the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge is a modern twist on a classic: gingersnaps. What sets these cookies apart from their old-fashioned counterparts is the use of three kinds of ginger: powdered, fresh, and crystallized. Having just received an order from King Arthur Flour containing some deliciously spicy, finely diced candied ginger, I was ready to make these cookies.

Although there are quite a few ingredients in this recipe, like most cookies, the dough came together quickly. I mixed the dry ingredients, creamed butter and sugar, added egg, then mixed in the dry ingredients and minced and crystallized ginger. After that, it was just a matter of scooping the dough, rolling it into rounds, and dredging the dough balls in sugar.

I baked the cookies in a 325°F oven for about 15 minutes, which was the low range suggested in the recipe. I like my gingersnaps chewy, rather than crispy, so I took them out of the oven as soon as they were set.

These were easily the best gingersnaps I’ve ever tasted. The three types of ginger give them a strong, but not overpowering, ginger flavor. The candied ginger added a spicy, sweet note that really sent these cookies over the top. I loved them warm. I loved them cold. I ate them for dessert, breakfast, lunch, and everything in between.

I know we still have a lot of cookies left to make (this is my second out of 25 recipes in this section); but I will be making these cookies again before I move on. And probably a few more times along the way.

Ginger Scones with Almond Topping {ModBak}

Ginger Scones with Almond Topping is another simple and delicious recipe from the Quick Breads section of The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri. These scones came together quickly and baked up in only 15 minutes.

The only ingredient that I didn’t already have in the cupboard was crystallized ginger. Nick warns against using grocery store ginger, as it tends to be dry and hard, whereas good candied ginger should be moist and tender. I was going to order ginger from King Arthur Flour, as their crystallized ginger receives rave reviews. However, I didn’t have anything else that I needed to order, and I didn’t want to wait for a shipment to get the ginger.

So, I went to the grocery store to buy candied ginger from the baking section. Sure, it was dry and rattled around in the jar. But I was impatient, so I bought it anyway. When I got home, I realized that the jar of crystallized ginger contained only two ounces, whereas the recipe called for four ounces. Again lacking in patience, I decided to forge ahead with what I had. I adjusted the recipe by adding just a bit more ground ginger.

As noted, the recipe came together quickly. I put the dry ingredients in the food processor, pulsed them a few times, added the cold butter, and pulsed again to mix everything together. Then I added the crystallized ginger, milk, and eggs and pulsed until the dough came together.

I dumped the dough out onto a Silpat, kneaded it a few times, then divided it into three pieces. After pressing each piece of dough into a disk, I cut each one into six wedges with a dough scraper. I placed the scones on a baking sheet, and topped each wedge with a mixture of egg white, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar.

I baked the scones at 400° F for about 15 minutes, until they were golden brown and firm to the touch.

Fortunately, Nick recommends eating these scones hot from the oven, because there is no chance I was going to let them cool. They were sweet, but not overpoweringly so, and were wonderful both plain and with a little smear of butter.