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Friday, November 6, 2009

A Tale of Two Biscotti

I've been in love with biscotti since discovering this chocolate biscotti recipe. I love making it at home because you can make it really crispy or a little on the softer side - whatever your preference. With an open can of pumpkin in the fridge, I set out to find a pumpkin biscotti recipe and epicurious.com came through with one for pumpkin pecan biscotti. I also had fresh cranberries to use up, so I decided they were going in, too.
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On the left, standard. On the right, cleaner.

The original recipe calls for shaping the dough into three logs, that would later be sliced to make the individual cookies. I decided to cut the recipe in half and try a direct comparison between the standard recipe and a cleaner version, using substitutes for the flour, sugar, and butter.  My old stand-by whole wheat pastry flour and my new friend sucanat fit the bill for flour and sugar, but what about butter?  I have been reading up on the vegan buttery sticks for baking from Earth Balance, and had those in mind for this recipe comparison.  I went to Whole Foods to try and get them, but they only had the non-hydrogenated shortening from Earth Balance.  With a quick read of the label, I decided it would be just fine.

Differences were apparent as soon as I mixed up the two doughs.  The clean dough required a little manual mixing to fully saturate the dry ingredients and form the dough, but because of that low moisture level, the log was easy to form.  The standard recipe came together more easily with a spoon, but then was very sticky and harder to shape into a log on the pan.  As expected, the standard recipe expanded quite a bit more than the clean recipe while baking. Perhaps my butter wasn't cold enough.  I also forgot to refrigerate the logs for 15 minutes before baking. Oops.
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On the left, standard. On the right, cleaner.

The cleaner biscotti baked up much faster, and the standard dough required an extra 10 minutes of baking time to get the log set enough for slicing, once cooled.  After being cut, the standard recipe require another extended baking time to finish baking the individual cookies.

Then it came down to the taste test. The cleaner biscotti has a hint of that whole wheat character that I have, quite honestly, come to prefer.  The standard biscotti seemed to be missing something, in comparison, but is more sweet.  But, I am being nit-picky.  Either version is a delight!  The sweet biscotti paired with tart fresh cranberries, a hint of cinnamon and spice, and creamy white chocolate chunks all come together beautifully in a perfect fall treat.

Let me go ahead and clarify how much of a treat it is.  I got about 12 slices out of the standard recipe and 11 out of the cleaner one, counting the two ends as one piece since they are significantly smaller than middle pieces.  With that in mind, the breakdown follows each recipe.  Oddly enough, the substitute I used for the butter has more calories and fat overall, so the cookies do as well.  However, the saturated fat is (marginally) lower in the cleaner cookies, the fiber is much higher, and the sugar still has all the vitamins nature intended!  A decent trade off, I think, for something that is a treat no matter what dietary plan you follow.  Having demonstrated the flexibility of this recipe, I will experiment in the future with other butter substitutes, namely the one I'd intended to get, as well as Smart Balance 50/50.
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Cranberry Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti (Standard)

Source: Adapted from Epicurious
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 oz. good quality white chocolate
  • 1 1/3 cups pecans
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin (fresh is best)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

Combine first five (5) ingredients in food process. Blend until all ingredients are fully mixed. Cut chilled butter into pieces and feed into processor until a fine meal is formed. Add white chocolate until chopped. Add pecans and process until coarsely chopped, being careful not to over-process.

Combine eggs, pumpkin and vanilla extract in large bowl. Mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and cranberries and stir until fully incorporated. A moist dough will form.  Grease and flour an 18x12 cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, forming 3 logs equidistant from each other. With moistened fingers, shape into 2 inch wide logs. Refrigerate logs for 15 min.

Place cookie sheet on rack in center of oven which has been pre-heated to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool logs completely on rack. Reduce oven temp. to 325 degrees.

Carefully slice logs with a heavy, sharp knife. I slice them on the diagonal about 1/2 inch wide. Place cut cookies on cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until slightly toasted. Longer if a harder biscotti is your preference. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information (per cookie)
Calories: 203
Fat: 9 g
Sat. Fat: 3.8 g
Cholesterol: 28 mg
Sodium: 97 mg
Carbohydrate: 28.8 g
Fiber: 0.6 g
Sugar: 16.5 g
Protein: 2.9 g

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Cranberry Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti (Cleaner)

Source: Adapted from Epicurious
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sucanat
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter substitute of choice
  • 3 1/2 oz. good quality white chocolate
  • 1 1/3 cups pecans
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin (fresh is best)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
Combine first five (5) ingredients in food process. Blend until all ingredients are fully mixed. Cut chilled butter substitute into pieces and feed into processor until a fine meal is formed. Add white chocolate until chopped. Add pecans and process until coarsely chopped, being careful not to over-process.

Combine eggs, pumpkin and vanilla extract in large bowl. Mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and cranberries and stir until fully incorporated. A moist dough will form.  Grease and flour an 18x12 cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, forming 3 logs equidistant from each other. With moistened fingers, shape into 2 inch wide logs. Refrigerate logs for 15 min.

Place cookie sheet on rack in center of oven which has been pre-heated to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool logs completely on rack.Reduce oven temp. to 325 degrees.

Carefully slice logs with a heavy, sharp knife. I slice them on the diagonal about 1/2 inch wide. Place cut cookies on cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until slightly toasted. Longer if a harder biscotti is your preference. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information (per cookie)
Calories: 230
Fat:11.2 g
Sat. Fat: 3.4 g
Cholesterol: 19.5 mg
Sodium: 160 mg
Carbohydrate: 29.7 g
Fiber: 2.9 g
Sugar: 15.8 g
Protein: 3.2 g

5 comments:

Katie said...

These look so delicious in a non dramitci sort of way. ;)

Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama said...

WOW! Looks amazing!

Dolce said...

The cleaner version has more fat and same calories as per the regular one? I would assume slightly less because of your butter substitution...

TPOX said...

Dolce - I was surprised about this too, but then I realized that I wasn't aiming to make the recipe have less calories, I was aiming to make the ingredients more nutritious and wholesome. I think I accomplished that to some degree, but am stuck right now on whether a butter substitute is worth it. The Earth Balance product is just a combination of oils that is solid at room temperature, and as such, it has a lower saturated fat content than the butter it was replacing. I have some other ideas I might try down the line, but for now I am enjoying these! Either way you make it, it is still a definite treat and not an everyday snack. :-)

The Voracious Vegan said...

Cranberry and pumpkin is SUCH a great combination and perfect for this time of year. I've never made my own biscotti, but I think I might have to give it a go now...