23/04/2013

Brown Butter Biscotti


On a trip to Ottawa this past winter, I happened upon the most amazing Italian Market: La Bottega Nicastro. This bustling shop was packed full to the seams with olive oils, vinegars, pastas, cheeses, salumi, anchovies – you name it, they had it! It was heaven on earth and I enjoyed one of their specialty made-to-order sandwiches with a glass of wine that evening for a lovely dinner-in in my hotel room.
 What do I remember most about the Bottega? The smell. In the back of the market, in a small but industrious and very visible kitchen, two older women were at work on biscotti dough. As the women patted sweet golden sand into plump, shiny logs, they perfumed the whole market with the scent of brown sugar and, wait for it… brown butter.


Yes! Brown butter. I can’t be sure about it (the women were far too concentrated on the task at hand to engage in conversation) but my nose never lies, especially when it comes to brown butter. 

Cooking unsalted butter over medium heat until the milk solids brown (not burn) is an effortless way to add incredible nutty flavour to any dish (sweet or savoury). I suggest you try it. Add it to blondies, cookies, cakes; fish, seafood, steamed vegetables.
While I didn’t get to try the biscotti of this particular bottega, I became determined to create my own Brown Butter Biscotti at home. This is what I came up with and I must say, it fulfills all of my biscotti fantasies. Plus, when you make it, your kitchen will smell exactly like La Bottega Nicastro: sweet, nutty and completely intoxicating. Enjoy with black coffee and a lazy afternoon. Salute!

Brown Butter Biscotti

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¾ stick (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, browned and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 egg yolk (save egg white for egg wash)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 325.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate large bowl, combine sugar and brown butter. Once mixed together (it will look like damp, dark sand), add egg and egg yolk and stir to combine until mixture is smooth and glossy. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Add flour to egg mixture and stir until combined. The dough will be dry and sandy once again.

Divide dough between two parchment lined baking sheets. Form each pile of dough into a log using your hands to smush the dough together and form a long, fat rectangle.

In a small, bowl, whisk egg white and milk together and brush on logs of dough.
Bake biscotti logs for 20 minutes. Rotate pans in oven (switching from bottom to top). Bake for an additional 20 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool. Using a serrated knife, cut into thick slices. Transfer slices back to the baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Cool completely before serving. 

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