Homemade biscotti make a wonderful Christmas gift. They are a bit of project, but worth the effort, and it's easy to create your own unique flavor combinations. The cookies are baked twice so that they stand up to repeated dunking in your favorite hot beverage. I used whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe, which gives the cookies a bit heartier flavor. Really you can add any kind of goodies you want to the basic biscotti recipe, but New Mexico pistachios and candied orange peel are a great combo. I made my own candied orange peels, but you can find them in many grocery stores this time of year (or just use some orange zest in the cookies instead).
3 large eggs
2/3 C. granulated sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 C. butter, melted and cooled
2 1/2 C. flour (whole wheat pastry flour or white all-purpose flour)
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 C. chopped pistachios
1 C. chopped candied orange peel
1 C. chocolate chips (white, milk or dark)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Separate one egg, reserving the white. Beat the egg yolk with the other two eggs and the sugar, with an electric mixer on high speed, for 2 full minutes. Add vanilla and melted butter and beat for another full minute. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add gradually to the wet ingredients, mixing only enough to combine. Fold in the pistachios and orange peel.
Divide dough into two equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each into a log about two inches in diameter. Place the logs about 3 inches apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or lightly oiled) to prevent sticking. Press down gently to flatten them a bit. Brush each log with beaten egg white, then sprinkle with granulated sugar – this helps hold them together when you slice them.
Bake 25-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Cool for at least an hour or overnight. Cut each log into 3/4-inch slices, like a loaf of bread. To avoid crumbling them, use a sharp, non-serrated knife and press straight down (no sawing).
Turn the slices on their sides and bake again at 350°F for about 8 minutes, then flip them and bake another 7 minutes on the other side. They should be pretty hard and a little bit toasted on each side. Cool to room temperature.
To melt the chocolate, put the chips in a dry, shallow bowl (all utensils must be completely dry – a few drops of water can cause the chocolate to seize up.) Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue heating, stirring after every 30 seconds. When the chocolate gets closer to melting completely, reduce the interval to 15 seconds, and continue until the chocolate is just melted. This is especially important for white and milk chocolate, because they scorch more easily than dark. Dip the top of each cookie in chocolate and set them back on the baking sheet. Cool until the chocolate is completely hardened (to speed this up, put them into the refrigerator or the freezer for a few minutes). Makes about 20 biscotti.