I finally started my Christmas shopping yesterday. The stress of Christmas being less than 10 days away was just the motivation I needed to get going! Of course, while I was out I couldn't help but pick a little something up for myself. I had some gift cards to Crate & Barrel so I popped in and saw Gingerbread was on sale. I'd seen a few reviews of this book on blogs recently and was intrigued by the idea of a whole cookbook devoted solely to gingerbread. As I browsed through the recipes more than a few caught my eye so I decided to pick it up.
The task of choosing which recipe to try first wasn't an easy one. I knew I wanted to make a cookie and ended up going with the soft gingerbread biscotti mainly because they could be made without a mixer but also because I was curious about a gingerbread that didn't include molasses. The recipe calls, instead, for a healthy amount of both ground ginger and cinnamon. Additionally, I liked the idea of a biscotti that wasn't hard. I never dip biscotti in coffee or tea so if they're too hard I'm generally not interested in eating them.
Things didn't start out well, unfortunately. I didn't read the instructions carefully and instead of reserving 1 teaspoon each of the ginger and cinnamon for the sugar/spice mixture that is sprinkled on the biscotti before baking, I dumped it all in with the dry ingredients. Oh well, no biggie - extra spicy gingerbread biscotti is probably a good thing. The thing that really gave me trouble, though, was the dough. The recipe says to knead it several times but my dough was more than a little crumbly and did not come together easily. I was afraid of overworking it so I did what I could, leaving a fair amount of crumbs on the work surface that simply were not incorporated into the logs that made it to the baking sheets.
Luckily, the baking process went fairly smoothly. I did underbake the logs a bit, taking them out around 25 minutes, which was the lower end of the recommended range. Next time I'll definitely bake them for closer to 30 minutes. All of the spices in the biscotti made the house smell amazing as they baked, which I loved! As for the taste verdict? Yum! I almost forgot about how fussy the dough was when I tried the biscotti. They're a bit crunchy on the outside but inside they're much softer than most biscotti I've had. I'm not a big fan of molasses so I didn't miss it at all in here and I thought the level of spices was perfect. The spiced sugar mixture added great texture to the biscotti too. I'll definitely make these again because even though the dough gave me trouble, the end result was worth the effort!
Soft Gingerbread Biscotti
from Gingerbread by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons cloves
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, 2 teaspoons of the ginger, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, cloves, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the brown sugar.
In a measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk the eggs, butter and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together in a soft, sticky mass.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log about 8 inches long by 2 inches wide. Place the logs about 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon of ginger, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of sugar together in a small ramekin. Brush the dough logs with the egg white and sprinkle with 1/3 of the spiced sugar mixture.
Bake the biscotti for 25-30 minutes, until the logs are puffed and golden brown. Cool the logs on the baking sheet set on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 300 F.
Using a serrated knife, cut each log into 1/2-inch thick slices on the diagonal. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/2 of the remaining spiced sugar mixture. Bake for about 6 minutes, or until the biscotti are light golden brown. Flip the biscotti over, sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and bake for about 6 minutes more.
Cool on the biscotti on the baking sheet set on a cooling rack for 5 minutes then transfer to them to the rack to cool completely.
Makes about 30 biscotti