baking from scratch, chai addiction, comfort food, crunchy cookies, dessert, holiday flavors and Christmas cookies, housewife, mother of boys, nut-free baking, tea cookies, the only thing my chai latte needs is more ginger
addiction obsession love for all things chai latte are well documented. If you’ve been around here for more than five minutes, then y’all know that I’m not afraid to go to great lengths to get a hot cup of that spicy-steamed-milk perfection. But for as passionate as I can be about my chai, I do have another love…a love of biscotti. I realize that those sweet, crunchy treats are typically served alongside a steaming cup o’ joe, but believe me when I tell you that biscotti are just as lovely dipped in tea.
Food-Dork Alert: Biscotti dates back to ancient Rome, where it was popular not for the delicate flavor and crunch, as it is now, but for function. Ancient biscotti was very hard with a long shelf-life; therefore, it was excellent travel food for the Legions, for which it was a staple food. The then rock-hard biscuit was dunked into a warm beverage to soften it up for consumption. Biscotti is actually the plural form of the word biscotto, meaning “biscuit” or “cookie” in Italian. Biscotto is derived from the Latin bis, meaning two, and coctum, meaning baked–later becoming cotto, meaning cooked. The British use the word biscuit; Americans call it biscotti–just like the Romans; the French call them biscotte and coquettes de carcassone; Germans call their version zwiebeck.
Bottom line? No matter the term, these lightly sweet, crunchy treats are delightful.
What better way to enjoy a new twist on an ancient treat than with White Chocolate-Ginger Biscotti? I first encountered the ginger-white chocolate biscotti combination at a personal chef demonstration for a Girl’s Night Out. The biscotti was tasty, but due to an innate gravitational pull toward chocolate, I passed it aside in favor of the mini chocolate tarts. It happens. For whatever reason, the white-chocolate ginger combination came to mind the other day, so I took it as a sign that It Was Time.
The cast is pretty straightforward with flour, sugar, unsalted butter, crystallized ginger, eggs, white baking chocolate, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves.
The only unusual ingredient is the crystallized ginger; also called candied ginger. Crystallized ginger is a milder, non-fibrous, and much more tender species of ginger than that of the more familiar ginger root used in savory cooking. The ginger is picked while young, dried, and then coated in sugar, at which point it can be stored for seemingly forever. I usually find crystallized ginger on the top shelf in the specialty spice section of the baking aisle. It’s a tad pricey–about $6 for the bottle–but it lasts forever, and can be eaten as a snack, or used in baking.
Whatever you do, do not–I repeat–do not substitute ginger root or powdered ginger for the crystallized ginger in this recipe. Really, I mean it. I’m going to be bossy about this because any other form of ginger will not taste the same. The crystallized ginger lends a fresh intensity that is potent, yet not overwhelming. The flavor cannot be achieved any other way.
Up close, the crystallized ginger is a pretty, sugar-sparkly yellow. I like sparkly things.
Chop the white chocolate into smallish chunks, and then set it aside. Chop up the crystallized ginger while you are at it, too. Then pretend that I took a picture of that step.
Cream the butter and sugar together until it fluffs up a bit. Fluffy butter? Sure, why not?
Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until they are just incorporated.
Dump the salt, baking powder, and baking soda–a.k.a the leavening–on top a small bowl of flour.
Then dump the cinnamon and cloves on top of the leavening, that is on top of the flour. Now it is at this point that I should tell you to sift the dry ingredients in order to properly combine them. I should. But I kind of have a thing about sifting stuff–I don’t. So usually, I take the lazy way out and use a whisk to kind of aerate the situation.
Except that when I was making this biscotti, I was kind of preoccupied with the fact that the sooner I finished the process, the sooner I got to dunk them in some chai. So I skipped the whisk and just dumped the dry ingredients into the bowl, in 3 seperate additions, and mixed in between to incorporate them. Forgive me.
Next, dump the chopped white chocolate and crystallized ginger into the mix. There’s a whole lot of dumping going on.
Fold the chunks into the cookie dough by hand to ensure that they are not completely pulverized by the mixer.
Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Turn the cookie dough onto one of the baking sheets, and divide it evenly in half.
Roll each half of dough into a 12-inch long log. Then pat the log to a 1/2-inch thickness.
The logs should be about 12 x 2 x 1/2 inches in dimension. Ish. If you are anything like me, you will have sampled enough dough at this point to be really impatient for cookies, and want to pop these suckers right in the oven. Resist the urge, take a deep breath, and instead pop the baking sheet with the dough into the refrigerator for 30 to 40 minutes to firm up a bit.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the dough has sufficiently chilled, it’s time for the first phase of the “twice baked” cookie process. Bake the logs for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Patience is a virtue. I know this because if you act on your impatience and bake the dough without chilling it, it all runs together. If this happens to you, it’s not a big deal. Just let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes before separating the logs with a serrated bread knife. Then let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet set on a wire rack.
Once the cookies are completely cool, preheat the oven to 325 degrees for the second phase of the “twice baked” cookie process. Gently transfer the the cookies, one at a time, onto a cutting board. Carefully slice the cookie on an angle into 1/2-inch slices with a serrated bread knife.
Transfer the slices back to the lined baking sheet. I have to use two lined baking sheets to accommodate all of the slices. Bake at 325 for about 8 or 8 1/2 minutes.
After the first 8 minutes, carefully flip the cookies over, and then bake for an additional 8 to 8 1/2 minutes. The purpose of the second round of baking is to dry and crisp the outer sides of the cookie. That’s what makes them so dunkable!
Dunkable is too a word. Since now.
Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a sheet of parchment on the counter to cool.
Once the biscotti are totally cool, they are ready to dunk in a steamy mug of chai. Or coffee, if that’s your thing. OR! If you have a teensy bit more patience, then do what I did: melt a little more white chocolate, put it into a sandwich bag, snip of a tiny corner of the bag, and drizzle away. Drizzles are almost as pretty as sparkly things.
There! Much better.
What are you waiting for?
Go on, now! Dunk this!
White Chocolate-Ginger Biscotti
Makes 30-36 Cookies
11 Tbs. unsalted butter (1/2 C. + 3 Tbs.)
2/3 C. granulated sugar
2 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbs. crystallized ginger, chopped
3 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped
Additional white chocolate to drizzle, optional
- Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside.
- Chop the white chocolate; set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, until light and fluffy.
- Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until blended.
- In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, and cinnamon until combined.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, stirring until just incorporated.
- Stir the crystallized ginger and white chocolate into the biscotti dough by hand, until evenly distributed.
- Turn the dough onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a log about 12 inches long.
- Gently flatten the logs until they are ½-inch thick, ensuring that they are about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the dough on the baking sheet for 30-40 minutes, or until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator, and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the logs comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake, or the dough will crack.
- Allow the cookie logs to cool completely on the baking sheets, set on a wire rack.
- Once the cookies have completely cooled, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Carefully transfer one cookie log at a time to a cutting board. Use a breadknife to cut the logs widthwise into ½-inch slices, on a diagonal bias.
- Place the cookies, cut sides up, onto a prepared baking sheet. Be careful not to break the cookies—they will be moist and soft.
- Bake the cookies for 8 ½ minutes, then gently flip the cookies over and continue baking for an additional 8 ½ minutes or so, or until the cookies are dry on both sides, but not yet browned.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack, to cool completely.
- Serve the biscotti with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for dipping.
OPTIONAL: Melt additional white chocolate and drizzle over cooled cookies. Allow the drizzle to dry before serving.