Spicy Hazelnut Biscotti {ModBak}

Today I present to you the first biscotti recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge. Unlike the biscotti regina I made back in January, which was actually a cookie (biscotti is, after all, “cookie” in Italian), this is what I would consider a classic biscotti recipe. It’s twice-baked, very crunchy, and made for dunking in coffee or tea.

What makes these biscotti unique is the addition of lots of spices, including some that might surprise you — ginger, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and black pepper. The dough also contains lots of hazelnuts, some of which are ground with the sugar, while the rest are chopped up and stirred into the dough. A bit of honey and orange zest round out the flavorings.

The dough came together very quickly, although it was a bit powdery after I initially mixed it up. I worked it on a floured board until it held together, then I formed it into a log, put it on a cookie sheet, and flattened the top. I baked the log at 350°F for 40 minutes, until it was firm and nicely browned.

I cooled the log on a rack for half an hour or so, then cut it into 1/2-inch slices. I put the biscotti back on the cookie sheet and returned them to the oven, this time at 325°F for about 20 minutes, until they were dry and firm.

The aroma of the spices filled the house like Christmas at grandma’s. They smelled so good, I couldn’t wait for them to cool before trying them. I brewed a cup of French roast coffee, grabbed two biscotti, and headed for the living room.

How do I describe these biscotti? Crunchy, sweet, spicy — all those things, but so much more. The combination of flavors is absolutely genius, perhaps Nick Malgieri’s finest work.

These would be a perfect for the holidays, when spicy treats are on everyone’s minds. But don’t wait until then to make them. They’re too good not to enjoy year-round.

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Caramelized Figs {Recipe}

I recently bought a flat of 24 fresh figs at the market. Figs have a short season, and they are usually quite expensive in Northeast Ohio even when in season, so I was thrilled to find them for a good price. Of course, once I got them home, I had to figure out what to do with them. I scoured the ‘net looking for fresh fig recipes, and as usual, decided in the end to come up with something on my own.

I found a number of recipes for caramelized figs, figs with balsamic glaze, and fig compote. None of them was exactly what I was looking for, so I cobbled together a few recipes and came up with this one.

Caramelized Figs

Ingredients

  • 24 fresh figs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
  • 3 whole cloves

Directions

  1. Wash and drain the figs, then cut off the stem end.
  2. Stand the figs upright in a stock pot. Sprinkle with sugar, then add remaining ingredients.
  3. Cover the pot an allow to sit overnight.
  4. The next day, uncover the pot and heat over medium-high heat until the juice begins to boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the figs have cooked down and the sauce has thickened, about five hours.
  5. Cool in the pot, then transfer to a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. The flavor will continue to develop over several weeks, and the figs will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely

Makes about one quart.

Serve the figs with savory dishes like roasted meats or cheeses, or use to top ice cream or in rice or bread pudding. The rich, spicy flavor of the figs and sauce will put you in mind of the holidays. 

My favorite way to eat them is right out of the container.

Swedish Limpa – Bork, Bork!

Thees veek in Phyl’s keetchee, ve-a mede-a zee Svedeesh Leempa.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this bread. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of rye. And I have so far enjoyed the BBA recipes that called for citrus oils and spices. I just didn’t know how it would be to combine them all into one bread. I’m glad to report that I was pleasantly surprised.

One of the things that makes this bread different from some of the other BBA breads is that you make it using a sponge. To make the sponge, I boiled water, molasses, orange oil, and ground aniseed, cardamom, and fennel seeds. This mixture smelled so good when it heated up. It had a strong citrus scent, and the spices gave it an exotic aroma that reminded me of my favorite Indian restaurant.

After it came to a boil, I removed the spice mixture from the stove and let it cool to room temperature. Then I mixed it with sourdough starter and rye flour.

I let the sponge ferment for about 5 hours, then refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I brought the sponge to room temperature, then mixed it with bread flour, yeast, and olive oil to make the dough. The recipe said to add up to 4 ounces of water to get the correct consistency, but I ended up using less than an ounce of water.

The dough smelled great and had a nice feel to it. It rose beautifully, too. After fermenting the dough for 2 hours, I shaped it into a loaf and put it in a 9×5 pan. I scored the loaf, misted it with spray oil, and let it proof for about an hour and a half.  I baked the loaf at 350 dF for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 190 degrees.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t sure how well I would like this bread. But I needn’t have worried: it was amazing. It’s a really interesting take on rye bread. The spices give it a lot more flavor and complexity, but it doesn’t taste like panettone or a spiced quick bread, which is what I was worried about. This is a great sandwich bread, and is also really good toasted with marmalade or jelly.

So, what are you waiting for? 

Gu beke-a sume-a Leempa!