Another snack-pack for the car has been assembled for my weekend foodie trip with my Bemidji Cookbook Club. First stop, Byerly’s in St. Louis Park for a private tour of the store, along with tastes from each department, a mini-cooking class and, finally, some sips in their Wine & Spirits Shop. This is all planned for us by Joan Donatelle, Director of the Culinary Center at Byerly’s. Our group will head over for a dinner of wood-fired artisan pizza at Pizzeria Lola, with plans to be standing at the door well before the Pizzeria’s 5:00 open. I know the seats in this popular neighborhood pizzeria fill fast. Read about it and see some great pictures of their copper-wrapped wood-fired oven over at The Heavy Table.
Our Saturday will begin with a private program and tasting of olive oils and vinegars at Vinaigrette, then over to Midtown Global Market, shopping the Uptown food-related stores and dinner at a yet-to-be-determined destination. Suggestions, anyone?
Before heading north on Sunday, we’ll be getting a private cooking class from Chef Francesco at Nonna Rosa’s in Robbinsdale, ending with a meal, of course. What a weekend!
The four-hour car trip calls for a snack-pack. This week I’ve filled a couple of tins with my favorite biscotti.
Apricot-Almond-Pistachio-White Chocolate Biscotti are the result of my experimentation to try to duplicate a biscotti I used to get at a coffee shop in Moorhead. I think Iâ€™ve finally come up with a homemade version that comes very close to the crunchy dippers I used to enjoy there. (Sadly, they no longer carry this particular addictive Italian treat.)
These will keep well at room temperature in a tin with a tight-fitting lid for two weeks. They freeze well, so you can make them now and store them in the freezer until Easter, if you like.
Be sure to use a bar of premium white chocolate for these crunchy twice-baked Italian cookies. Look for cocoa butter in the list of ingredients. If it’s not listed, go to the next bar of sweet white creaminess. Don’t be afraid to use dark chocolate, if you prefer.
I chop all of the add-ins very coarsely. I love lots of chunky texture in biscotti. One of those great cheese knives work like a charm for chopping sticky apricots. I bought my cheese knife at least a couple of years ago at a kitchen store. Here in Bemijdi, they are now available for purchase at Chocolates Plus. I use it for all kinds of cheese, as well as for slicing hard-cooked eggs, cream cheese, cheesecake and almost anything that would normally cause chopping and slicing frustration. Before I had my cheese knife, I would lightly coat the blade of my knife with non-stick cooking spray before chopping apricots.
This crunchy biscotti is first baked in three 12-inch logs. Once those logs have cooled, they need to be sliced. Each of the cookies are baked a second time.
These Italian treats are easy to mix up, easy to bake and way too easy to eat.
I’m ready for my road trip with biscotti in my bag.
Apricot-Almond-Pistachio-White Chocolate Biscotti
- 2Â¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1Â½ cups sugar
- Â½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2Â½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 (3.5 ounce) bar white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup whole raw almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup raw pistachio nuts, toasted, chopped
- 2 large eggs
- Â¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon apricot-flavored brandy, cognac or brandy
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 (6-ounce) package dried apricots, chopped
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. If using foil, butter and flour it. Combine first six ingredients in food processor. Process until fine meal forms. Or place ingredients in large bowl and use pastry blender or two knives to cut mixture until consistency of fine meal. Beat eggs, brandy and almond extract to blend in large bowl. Add flour mixture chopped nuts, white chocolate chunks and apricots and stir until moist dough forms, using clean hands if necessary, to gather all of the ingredients together in one mass.
Divide dough into three equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into 12-inch-long strip on prepared cookie sheet, spacing evenly. Moisten fingertips and shape each dough strip into 2-inch-wide log. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Bake until logs are golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack and cool completely.
Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Cut logs from sides of pan if necessary. Transfer to work surface. Using heavy sharp knife, cut each log crosswise into Â¾-inch-wide slices. Arrange half of cookies cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Gently turn cookies over and bake 10 minutes longer. Transfer cookies to racks. Repeat baking with remaining cookies. Cool cookies completely. Makes about 40.
Tips from the cook
- Give your knife a light coating of nonstick cooking spray before chopping apricots. No more dried fruit stuck to the blade.
- Nonstick qualities of parchment paper will allow you to safely lift the whole baked biscotti loaves from the baking sheet to a cutting surface without breaking them
- Using a serrated blade will produce a clean slice through the apricots and nuts.