Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pecan Cornmeal Biscotti

Happy St Patrick's Day! I should be offering you Irish soda bread or some kind of cabbage. I did make a soda bread today, although I'm still feeling around for a really great recipe. I do have some Irish roots on the murkier side of my family tree, but whoever those ancestors were, they didn't pass down any recipes. My cooking talents seem to have come from some of my other ancestral ethnicities.

Take my Italian side. I can make a mean tomato sauce, a perfect pesto and killer biscotti. These particular biscotti aren't as Italian as they could be - there's much more of a Southern vibe going on here. The anise and almond flavors have been replaced with pecans and cornmeal. Yes, cornmeal. I had some doubts when I first saw the recipe , but it turns out that the cornmeal offers a beautiful buttery flavor. I know that cornbread tastes buttery, but I always assumed it was from all the butter. Apparently not. Add some pecans to those buttery notes and you have yourself a pretty good cookie.

I'm not a huge fan of biscotti - I like them, but I normally don't freak out over them. I decided to make these to keep in my pantry in case of cookie cravings. I thought they'd be the sort of dessert I'd go after as a last resort, when I really wanted a cookie and nothing better was available.

Maybe this is true with normal biscotti, but not with these. I devoured them very, very quickly. These are now on my list of dangerous cookies to have around. Either I'm a biscotti convert or these particular biscotti are pretty awesome. Either way, it's worth a try.

Pecan Cornmeal Biscotti
Adapted from the Southern Living Farmers Market Cookbook.

1 c chopped pecans
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a pan or toaster oven, toasts the pecans, stirring occasionally (watch them closely so they don't burn!).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. When the pecans are done, add them, too. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then combine with sugar, oil and vanilla. Gradually pour this over the flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened and a dough forms.

Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log of approximately 12 x 2". Place logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, then set aside 10 minutes until cool (or, if you're impatient like me, you can move on and risk burning your fingertips)

Slice each log diagonally into 1" thick slices with a serrated knife (you'll end up with some wonky, oddly-shaped end pieces - just eat them). Remove the parchment from the baking sheet and place the slices back on it, with one of the cut sides down. Return to the oven for 7-10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Flip onto the other side and toast 7-10 minutes more. Cool on wire racks. Enjoy right away or store in a covered container. (Biscotti seem to store well anywhere - I've stored them in tupperware without them getting soggy and I've stored them in tins without them getting stale. They're hardy little cookies.)

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