Pumpkin Biscotti

I’m not really sure why I haven’t tried making biscotti before. I have read some other bloggers failed attempts at baking them. Leaving them with a love/hate relationship for the crispy cookie. My love/hate relationship is the fact that while they are delicious they are sometimes too crunchy. And yes, I know biscotti is meant to be enjoyed by dipping it into a nice hot beverage to combat that issue, but, I am just not a fan of a possible mushy cookie. I was planning making biscotti for the first time as part of this year’s Cookie Palooza after coming across a recipe for a pistachio cranberry one during my magazine cleanout I mentioned a few posts back – and I very well may still do so – but, I am thinking Almond Biscotti now. So, how did I deviate from my original biscotti plan? I came across a pumpkin version on Instagram and around the same time I was looking for pumpkin treats to bake for a friend’s birthday. She loves pumpkin and biscotti so it was a win win situation all around to try out the recipe.

To make the dough, I began by beating softened butter, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder together. Per the recipe the mixture was supposed to get creamy. It didn’t happen though. Not sure if it was because I was using my hand mixer vs. my stand mixer, but, the ingredients did combine just never into a creamy consistency. Next I added in an egg and pumpkin puree. At this point my mixture did become creamy. And finally I added in flour at low speed. The resulting dough was very sticky.

I transferred the dough to a baking sheet I lined with parchment paper. And yes, I had used that parchment paper before. I was baking chocolate chip cookies prior to making the biscotti. I simply flipped the parchment paper over and used the other side for the biscotti. And in case you are wondering or weren’t aware, it’s perfectly safe to use parchment paper more than once. Just make sure if you are gifting the cookies to anyone they don’t have any allergies that could be affected by a different batch of cookies you made. Since the dough was sticky I did my best to form it into two rectangles. The recipe said 10 x 2 1/2, I ended up with 9 x 2 1/2. I did my best to get it to 10 inches, but, it wasn’t happening.

Next, I smoothed both rectangles with a small offset spatula that I dipped in water. I then sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar and lightly pressed the cinnamon sugar into the dough.

Then it was time for the first bake. I baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for 25 minutes. I then removed the pan from the oven, lowered the temperature of the oven to 325 F and waited 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes I transferred one of the logs to a cutting board and using a large serrated knife sliced it into 1/2 inch sliced. I measured the first one and eyeballed the remaining ones.

I repeated this with the second long and then placed all of the cut biscotti on edge back on the baking sheet and returned it to the oven for about 40 minutes. At the end of the bake time I checked on the biscotti and they were beginning to brown around the edges and were just a tad soft in the center, as per the recipe they should be. So, I turned the oven off and opened the oven door a few inches so they could cool inside the oven.

And once cool I had a delicious batch of Pumpkin Biscotti. And I must mention that my house smelled delicious while baking these. That’s enough of a reason to bake up a batch.

 

Pumpkin Biscotti

  • Servings: approximately 30 pieces
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Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon sugar for topping (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat the softened butter, sugar, spices, baking powder and salt on medium speed until the mixture is combined. Add in the egg and pumpkin puree and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. On low speed add in the flour and continue mixing until smooth. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet and divide in half. Shape it into two 10” x 2 1/2” rectangles. Using a wet offset spatula smooth the top and sides of the rectangles.

Sprinkle the top of both with cinnamon sugar and lightly press it into the dough.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.

Wait 5 minutes then transfer one of the logs to a cutting board and using a large serrated knife slice the log crosswise into 1/2” slices. Be sure to cut the biscotti straight up and down so that they are cut evenly. If you cut unevenly the biscotti may topple over during the second bake. Do the same with the second log.

Place the biscotti on edge back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven for an additional 40 to 45 minutes. Until the biscotti begins to brown around the edges and still a bit soft in the middle. Turn the oven off, open the door a few inches and let the biscotti cool completely in the oven.

Once cool, remove and store in an airtight container.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Ricotta Cheesecake With Almonds

Cheesecakes are the one thing that I never seem to get right. Granted, I have never attempted to make a basic cheesecake I usually go with flavorful ones like pumpkin cheesecake, tiramisu cheesecake, and so forth. When I come to think of it though the pumpkin cheesecake I made wasn’t that bad it was just really dense. I decided to give it another go when I came across a cheesecake recipe in the March 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine – appropriately coined The Cheese Issue – called Ricotta Cheesecake with Almonds. I usually love anything made with almonds so I knew this would be a hit for me.

To begin, I toasted sliced almonds – 1/4 cup for the crust and another 1/3 cup for the topping – in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 5 minutes. I used to skip over toasting nuts whenever I saw it in a recipe but have to come to realize that toasting them definitely enhances their flavor.

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Once the almonds were cool I made the crust for the cheesecake. I combined the almonds, almond biscotti and granulated sugar in my food processor and pulsed the mixture until it was finely ground.

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I then added melted butter and pulsed for a few more seconds so the mixture could come together. Once it did I pressed it into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and baked it in the oven for a little over 10 minutes so it could set.

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While the crust was in the oven I did some prep work for the filing. I separated three eggs and used a Microplane to zest an orange. After I removed the crust from the oven I let it cool on a wire rack and lowered the oven temperature to 300 degrees in preparation for baking the cheesecake.

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To make the filling I started by beating the eggs yolks and sugar on high speed for about two minutes until the mixture was a pale yellow.

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I then added in ricotta cheese and beat this for another two minutes until it was smooth.

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And finally I added in almond & vanilla extract, amaretto liqueur and the orange zest.

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I put that part of the filling aside and beat the egg whites with sugar until soft peaks formed.

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To combine the two mixtures I began by folding in 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the ricotta mixture. I then folded in the rest until the two were just combined.

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After all the pulsing, mixing and baking I finally had my crust and filling ready.

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I poured the filling into the crust and baked it for 1 hour 10 minutes. I opted to reduce the baking time by 10 minutes from the directions since the cheesecake looked done according to them – slightly puffed and lightly golden on top.

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I let the cheesecake cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then removed the springform ring after running a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it. Once the cheesecake was completely cooled I added the topping. I sprinkled cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar over the cheesecake, then spread out the 1/3 cup of almonds on top of it and then sprinkled more cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar over the almonds.

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This was a cheesecake success! I will say though that while the recipe name made it seem like almonds would be the dominant flavor that was only the case with the crust, the cheesecake itself really took on the flavor of the orange zest even though there was amaretto and almond extract in it. Either was it was delicious!

Ricotta Cheesecake with Almonds

Courtesy Food Network Magazine

Prep Time: 40 Minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients

For the crust:

1/4 cup sliced almonds

5 ounces almond biscotti*

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling and topping:

3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 pound fresh ricotta (about 2 cups)

1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup sliced almonds, for topping

Directions

Make the crust: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds for both the crust and topping (1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup) on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Crumble the biscotti into a food processor; add 1/4 cup toasted almonds and the granulated sugar and pulse until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Bake until set, about 12 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed until pale, about 2 minutes. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth, about 2 more minutes. Beat in the amaretto, vanilla and almond extracts, and orange zest.

Put the egg whites and the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a separate bowl and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form (do not overbeat). Using a rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the beaten egg whites into the ricotta mixture, then gently fold in the rest until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared crust. Bake until slightly puffed and lightly golden on top, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool, 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then remove the springform ring and let cool completely.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon in a fine-mesh sieve and dust over the cheesecake. Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup toasted almonds on top and dust again. Serve at room temperature.

*5 ounces of biscotti is equivalent to about 8 pieces. I actually used Stella D’oro Almond Biscotti which conveniently came in a 5.5 ounce package.