Wednesday, 19 August 2015

My GBBO Challenge #2: Biscotti

OCD Panic Rating: 1/5
Handwashes: Um, loads.  And I had to change my top.

Watching GBBO this week, I learnt a couple of things about making biscotti.  First, you want to let the biscuits cool sufficiently after the first bake so that they won't entirely crumble when you cut them.  Second, using cocoa makes it a lot harder to judge visually if they are undercooked, overcooked, or just right.

Two things about my biscotti.  First, I'm not very good at waiting for things to cool.  Second, I chose to use cocoa.  So there's that.

My biscotti from this Good Housekeeping book use cocoa, chocolate chips and pistachios for flavour.  The theory behind the recipe is pretty simple.  You throw together the dry ingredients, then the wet, then combine the two into a thick dough.  A really thick dough.  It took me about twenty minutes to shell a sufficient number of pistachios, and then it took another ten minutes to form the dough.  The recipe suggests that you don't need to get your hands dirty for this bit, but I saw no other way to do it.  I got elbow deep, smooshing it all together until I could form it into the flattened log shape.  I'm not good at judging the size of these things, and I think one was clearly better formed than the other.  I persevered though, and bunged them into the oven.  

I then spent a chunk of the cooking period washing my hands, cleaning all the gunk from under my fingernails, and changing my splattered shirt.  My OCD over eggs has all but gone thanks to the amount of baking I've done this year but there was no denying that I was a serious mess.  

I followed the time guide in the recipe and took the biscuits out after about forty minutes.  They had enlarged slightly but I think I may have flattened them down a bit too much.  The size discrepancy was more obvious now too:

The recipe said that ten minutes would be enough time to let them cool before cutting.  It was not.  The first log cut into about ten blobs of biscuit, with numerous broken corners and offcuts that I just dumped back on the baking tray.  I left the second log a bit longer and it cut a lot better.  I still didn't get the fifteen identical pieces from it but they held together much more promisingly.  After an additional fifteen minutes in the oven to crisp up, they looked like this:

I'm not going to win any approval from Paul and Mary for the regular appearance of the biscotti.  However, I think they would approve of the taste and the crunch.  They have the brittle texture of proper biscotti and a lovely chocolatey flavour.  The pistachios are a bit overwhelmed by the chocolate chips and cocoa, so I would probably alter the ratios a little if I made these again.  Otherwise though, they make a good biscuit and an excellent teatime treat.

Key points:

  • If it says to cool them for fifteen minutes before cutting, double it just in case.  If they are too warm, you've got no chance of getting them neat and regular.
  • Wear an apron.

Win rating: 4/5.  They're great biscotti but I still prefer the texture of a normal biscuit or cookie.

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