Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie & Homemade Biscotti: Two New Favorite Things

I often find myself in conflict with the dark, rich brew known as coffee. I straddle a line that was clearly drawn out in my youth. My mother is on one side shaking her head in sadness that this is even a point of argument as she holds out a hot cup of fragrant, floral herbal tea. My dad is on the other, so casually sipping his thick, strong coffee that I am intrigued by its mystery as well as its intense aroma.

Now, you might be wondering why at the age of twenty-two, after being out of my parents' house for four years, I am still trying to keep a foot on both sides of this abyss. Why haven't I made up my mind for myself? I wish the answer was a simple one, but it's not. Ultimately, I am grateful for those who have led the way in living with a love for both tea and coffee. This is where I prefer to place myself. If the coffee is poor (because living with my dad and being in the Pacific Northwest were excellent trainers for knowing when a cup of joe isn't worth swallowing), I'll usually take tea. If biscuits are present, black tea with a spot of cream is preferred. If it's the morning after a depleted night's sleep, thanks to a little bit of procrastination and an additional bit of overlapping class due dates, then it's coffee I want for the extra jolt.

Why all this talk of coffee, when I'm supposed to be talking about two new favorite things: Tuesdays with Dorie and homemade biscotti? Well, I have been loading up on coffee a lot recently, trying to finish assignments, and that's why, when I saw that the recipe for today was Dorie's Lenox Almond Biscotti, I was very pleased. In my opinion, the only thing better than a good cup of coffee is a good cup of coffee with a biscotti.

I had never made my own biscotti before, though not out of fear of difficulty. It has remained on that perpetual list of things to do that I keep stored in my mind but don't stress myself out for not getting to (because I have enough lists elsewhere). If it's really important, it will make its way to the surface and work itself out, or demand my attention enough to get me moving. While biscotti wasn't a particularly dynamic or vocal item on my list, I'm glad our paths finally crossed.

I trust Dorie's recommendation to put cornmeal in the biscotti dough and want to try this on my next batch. For now, I substituted the cornmeal with whole wheat flour because I also two teaspoons of dried lavender to the dough and didn't want too many elements fighting for attention. Additionally, I knew my biscotti would be nubby enough because I chopped up slivered almonds instead of using sliced, wanting the crunchy bites of the nut to serve as a reminder of the biscotti's star ingredient: almond. This also kept me from hesitating when I saw Dorie's instructions for a generous amount of almond extract. I have yet to be displeased by a strong almond flavor.

The lavender was a lovely component, and I am very glad I added it. In the last stage, with the nuts, I scooped in two teaspoons of the dried, edible flower buds and tasted a bit of the dough after shaping two logs on the cookie sheet. The lavender flavor was so strong that I became worried I had overdone it. But, from then until the end of the baking process, somehow the flower's flavor and scent mellowed out and became a pleasing undertone, only reappearing distinctively in the very occasional bite.

Thank you so much to Gretchen of Canela & Comino for choosing this delicious recipe. You helped me check something off my to-do list, and that is always a wonderful thing to experience, even if it's very little.

Dorie's original recipe for these biscotti is located here, and it's basic enough to be wide open to variation. I look forward to exploring these variants in the future.

For blog scanners versus readers (no biases intended; I just know you're out there), here is a set-apart link to the recipe:
Lenox Almond Biscotti

[Sorry if this post is disjointed or lacking in personality. I find my eyelids heavy tonight as my body tells me to give it some rest after spending all of last night in my photography class's photo lab.]


GrantJM said...

I'm amazed you even remembered you were a blogger after all the pressure you've had on you in the last few days. I love the lavender idea. Pack some up for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm a coffee and tea drinker, like you depending on the situation. I like the addition of lavender. I have some in my pantry that I've never used.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I adore that first photo with the lavender sprinkled on the table! Looks amazing!

Rachael said...

My Sweet Lavender Lily~Remember our first taste of lavender...lavender applesauce. Then came lavender chocolate & lavender cookies.
I think I still love the scent and sight of a lavender field more than the flavor. Still you will always keep intriguing me with your blessed talent and delicious creations.
Love, love.

Lael said...

Grantjm: I'll see what I can do. You just have to come back from Hawaii first.

Pinkstripes: Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I love lavender added to just about anything so if you also like the sound of it, these will be delicious.

Shari: Thank you so much! Your photography always makes my stomach grumble.

Rachael: Thanks, Mum, but don't you remember the lavender ice cream from Mallards? Maybe we didn't have it together...I know you're not crazy about this whole lavender thing, but maybe it would have been subtle enough in this recipe for you to enjoy.

beauty and bread said...

lael, your pictures, as always, are so beautiful. i wish i could have tried these biscotti, because they looked wonderful and they sound delicious. and i think the light flavors would go well with tea, too, so maybe your mom won't be too upset!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I really like your writing. So glad you were able to make these and enjoyed them!

Barbara said...

Welcome to TWD! Lavender, how lovely!

Lael said...

beauty and bread: kelly, I'm so sorry that so little of what I bake is vegan friendly...I'm sure you could pull off an equally lovely version.

Gretchen Noelle: Thank you so much! I'm always glad to hear from new readers.

Barbara: Thank you for the welcome. I'm already enjoying being part of TWD and meeting more lovely bloggers like you.

Y said...

I love baking with lavender. And biscotti? Definitely a coffee thing, even though I'm usually a tea drinker :)