The hardest thing about coming back from an immersive vacation devoid of phone service is the shocking amount of emails and phone calls to deal with upon returning. Most of last week was spent trying to catch up, and then prepping for the cooking class I taught yesterday (more on that later but I'm happy to report that I didn't poison anyone or torch the demonstration kitchen).
In the meantime, last Thursday found me poring over this month's issue of Food and Wine, which features an absolutely mouthwatering spread on chocolate. One of the recipes caught my eye: chocolate and pistachio biscotti. Actually, it was the picture that did me in, a bowl of biscotti, the dark chocolate background punctuated with green circles. The recipe belongs to Michelle Myers, the pastry chef for Sona and Boule pâtisserie.
My first experience with a perfect biscotti (at least until I go to Italy) was at Alon's Bakery in Atlanta several years ago. Janine, Alon's wife, handed me an almond biscotti after I got my usual early morning latte.
"Try this," she said.
I'm not fond of cookies; I never have been. A mouthful of crumbs is just not my thing. After biting into the crunchy little biscuit, I was reassured of my preferences.
"No," Janine said. "Dip it into your latte."
"Like an Oreo?"
"A high end Oreo."
I didn't realize that when you dip your biscotti in coffee, it becomes a sweet little sponge of joy. I was hooked.
Kellie saw the magazine on my desk, opened to the picture of the biscotti, and noted that she loved pistachios.
"It would be really nice to have some biscotti for my really long plane ride on Saturday," she said.
I tried to summon up some pity that she would be flying for 19 hours, but failed miserably in evincing any sort sympathy when I remembered that the final stop of her marathon trip was sunny Australia. Plus, she refused to bring back a platypus for me, despite my repeated (and obsessive) entreaties.
For years now, I've heard about how easy biscotti is to make. I never believed. Ultimately, the challenge of making biscotti was more compelling than punishing her for not bringing me a platypus. And let's face it, I adore Kellie and it's very hard to say no to her. So she got her bag of on-board treats and I got a great new recipe. And some seriously worn out fingers. Doesn't ANYONE sell shelled and skinned pistachios in a hundred mile radius?! I didn't read the recipe carefully and thought I needed two cups of pistachios. I only needed one cup. My fingers don't thank me. But happily, Heidi at 101 Cookbooks posted this gorgeous recipe for sweet pistachio butter so the leftover pistachios will have a purpose in life.
I made a few alterations to the recipe, mainly out of necessity as I lacked some ingredients, and also because I wanted to use some of the dark amber maple syrup I had just brought back from Vermont. The resulting cookies had a subtle, dusky sweetness that was perfect for dipping in my coffee...definitely a high end Oreo.
P.S. I'm so excited! I love learning new things and after I posted this blog, Nicky at Delicious Days and pe were both sweet enough to write and explain that "biscotti" actually means "cookie" in Italian, and the cookies I'd been referring to as "biscotti" are actually called Cantucci or Cantuccini. So, in the spirit of getting things right, I've retitled the post.
Bittersweet Chocolate and Pistachio Biscotti (Cantuccini)
The original recipe is posted at the Food and Wine site: Chocolate and Pistachio Biscotti
If you want my version, leave a comment to that effect or email me here: ablithepalate AT gmail DOT com