A while back my brother and I were at a party, surveying the appetizer offerings. The table was packed with deli-style cheeses, crackers and meats still in the plastic tray from the supermarket, alongside a giant pile of worn-out looking cut vegetables, more than you could ever eat in your whole life. In the center of all this pre-made party stuff was ranch dressing dip presented in a hollowed-out sourdough roll – the kind you get when you pay extra.
Anyway, I made a little sandwich of two butter crackers, a piece of dried salami and yellow cheese. I dunked it halfway into the ranch dressing, as my brother watched in approval ( genius!) and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth right then and there.
It was GOOD!
We ate many more, shoving them in our mouths as fast as we could put them together.
The point here folks is don’t be afraid to take something sort of plain and think about what might make it taste even better.
Enter biscotti. Plain tasting, for sure. Boring and uninspired most of the time. It’s rare I’ll order one in a bakery, and I never buy the cellophane wrapped single serving kind at the check-out counter.
What I did was start with a basic recipe for biscotti from Cooks Illustrated, amped up the spices, then folded in some luscious chopped candied ginger.
Once that was baked and cut and baked again, I dunked them in velvety melted white chocolate.
These simple additions made all the difference. I looked forward to eating them, which I suppose isn’t a stretch.
These taste even better a day or two after you make them. This is a nice perk if you were thinking of hosting a coffee break at the office.
That’s what I did, and everybody loved them.
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
- 2 1/4 cups (11 14 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp/ baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup minced candied ginger
- 5 ounces melted white chocolate, for dipping
- Chopped pistachio nuts or almonds
- Heat oven to 350, and adjust rack to middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and white pepper in a small bowl, whisk these dry ingredients together to combine.
- In a large bowl, whisk sugar and eggs until light yellow in color. Add vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients into the bowl until a dough forms.
- Halve the dough and turn each portion onto the baking sheet. With some flour on your hands, quickly stretch each portion of the dough into a rustic 12 by 2 inch loaf, with the loaves about 3 inches apart. Smooth the top down, and bake until golden and beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway though the baking.
- Cool loaves for just 10 minutes, and reduce oven temp to 325 degrees. Cut the loaves diagonally into 3/8 inch slices with a serrated knife. Place each cut slice cut side up about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet and return to oven. Bake until crisp and golden on both sides, about 15 minutes, turning each cookie over half way through the baking. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack, then dunk in melted white chocolate. Top with chopped pistachio or almonds. Cool until set and serve.