We like to put together small little snacks for a crowd, as long as it isn’t too many people nor too many snacks, as then it becomes overwhelming. So, roughly once a month, we put together a few items for the church social/coffee hour. It gives us the opportunity to try out a few new recipes, figuring that we might get some feedback about how they turned out. This past Sunday, we made a couple of kinds of biscotti — appropriate for coffee hour — and a few other things.
This particular idea, we say idea because we didn’t really follow the original recipe, comes from Ciao Biscotti, by Domenica Marchetti. And, when we say we didn’t follow the recipe, we really mean that we took these notes:
Cornmeal Rosemary & Parmigiano
Follow cherry biscotti, substitute ½ cup (70g) cornmeal for ½ cup flour, add 80g grated Parmesan, 1Tbs fresh rosemary, and 100g toasted sliced almonds. Reduce butter to ¾ stick.
Or enough that we could make up a batch. If this isn’t enough, we have the full instructions, too.
If you don’t have toasted sliced almonds, simply place them in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring very often, for 10 minutes. Parmesan cheese does not come in shaker cans. It’s cheese, it comes in chunks that you need to grate. And, it’s expensive, so we offer up the substitute of Grana Padano, which is similar to Parmesan, just not made to the same strict specifications or necessarily in the Parma region of Italy. For eggs, if there’s anything you can do, it’s buy real eggs from pasture raised hens. Check your farmers’ markets.
Procedure in detail:
Whisk dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well, so there are no lumps of baking powder hiding. Finally, whisk in the rosemary. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar. So many recipes start with this step that it becomes second nature. Place the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and increase the speed to medium. Check the butter after 60 seconds. Does it look smooth and shiny? If yes, continue; otherwise, let the butter warm a bit more and try again. Once the butter is smooth and shiny, slowly add the sugar. We like to add the sugar at about the rate it gets mixed into the butter, but we’re not sure it makes any difference. We just do it that way because we always have. Let the butter and sugar beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, sometimes longer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add eggs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly on medium between additions, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add flavoring. Add the almond extract and mix on low until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape again.
Add dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions, mixing on low until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. It helps to pulse the mixer at the beginning; well, it helps to keep the flour from spewing out of the bowl and making a mess. Scrape the bowl between and after the last addition to check for pockets of unmixed flour at the bottom of the bowl.
Add cheese and almonds. Add the almonds and Parmesan and pulse until well combined.
Chill. We find this dough quite sticky and difficult to work with, so we use a trick to make it easier: refrigerate it! Just cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats, preferred, or baking parchment.
Shape. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each into a log about an inch in diameter. We found it easiest to roll these on the silicone baking mats. We just rolled one, transferred to the other pan, rolled the next, transferred, etc., until we had all four rolled out. Then we placed two on each baking sheet about 4 inches apart.
Bake. Place into the oven and bake 40 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, or until golden brown and mostly firm to the touch.
Cool. Place the sheets on a rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. We’ll dry out the biscotti next. That needs a lower temperature to keep them from browning or burning.
Cut. Slice each log (or loaf) at a 45° angle into slices 1/2 inch thick. Place the slices back on the baking sheets as you work.
Bake again. Back into the oven for 15 minutes, then flip each biscotti, and continue to bake until completely dry, another 15 minutes.
Cool completely. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before transferring to an airtight storage container.
These are probably the best biscotti yet. It might seem odd that these savory biscotti would have so much sugar in them, and we almost cut back the amount, but we’re glad that we didn’t. It works, vaguely like kettle corn, with that sweet, salty, and savory flavor. We liked that you’d get a bite with a strong Parmesan flavor, a bunch of almonds, and some sweetness. The amount of rosemary is just enough so you can taste it; it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors. We think these are worth five stars.