Our holiday cookie onslaught continues with a recipe excerpted with permission of the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. <!-- More here: King Arthur Flour's Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews, King Arthur Flour's Light Spice Cookies, and King Arthur Flour's Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies. -->
- 1 recipe Essential Biscotti (American-Style, recipe follows)
- 2 drops strong cherry flavor, to taste (optional)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) chopped pistachios
- 1 cup (4 ounces) sweet or sour dried cherries
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick, 3 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a large (18 x 13-inch) baking sheet.
Prepare the biscotti dough of your choice, substituting the cherry flavor for the vanilla, if desired. Stir in the pistachios and cherries.
Shape and bake the biscotti as directed in the recipe you've chosen. If the cherries are very fresh and moist, the biscotti may be fairly soft at the end of the baking time. For crunchier biscotti, bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a large (about 18 x 13-inch) baking sheet.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled.
Lower the mixer speed, add the flour, and mix until smooth. The dough will be quite soft and sticky, but should hold its shape when you drop it from a spoon.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, shaping it into a rough log about 14 inches long. It will be about 2 1/2 inches wide and about 3/4 inch thick.
Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let cool on the pan anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes; just work it into the schedule of whatever else you're doing in the kitchen. Five minutes before cutting, use a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water to lightly but thoroughly spritz the log, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Wait another 5 minutes, then cut the biscotti into 1/4- to 3/4-inch slices. How thick you slice them depends on a number of factors. This recipe, without nuts or any add-ins, is easy to slice thin. Once you start adding chips, almonds, raisins, and other chunky ingredients, a 3/4-inch slice is more realistic. When you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, if you cut at an angle, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.
Set the biscotti upright on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool.