Have you ever heard of a savory biscotti? Yeah, we hadn’t either, until we stumbled upon this excellent recipe. I’m not a huge fan of most biscotti, even when it’s covered in chocolate, because it’s usually so crispy and tough that you can hardly bite into it without making a mess. If you dunk it into a warm cup of coffee, the toughness is easier to handle, but I’m still not a huge fan. But this…this is an amazing new twist on the traditional dessert biscotti. Whenever I make Italian food, the only appetizer I can come up with us bruschetta. It’s so traditional, and everyone loves it, so it’s sort of my go-to choice when I need to take the edge off of people’s hunger before serving them a huge plate of pasta. This time around, I really wanted something different that would be flavorful and easy to eat, but not extremely filling or heavy. These biscotti are the perfect fit, and I highly recommend you make these next time you’re having a dinner party. They truly have the perfect amount of cheese, and a really bright bite from the peppercorns.
To be honest, this was my first time making any sort of dough from scratch. It was a challenge, and I can’t claim to be any sort of dough-making expert at this point in time, but if you read through the italicized notes I’ve inserted into the recipe below, any beginner level cook should be able to make this recipe as well as I did. Please, feel free to leave your own tips, tricks, and/or experiences making this recipe. We’re always looking for ways to become better cooks!
1 ½ tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cups (523 grams) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting [1600 calories]
2 teaspoons (11 grams) baking powder
2 teaspoons (12 grams) salt
4.5 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (produces about 1 ½ cups grated) [495 calories]
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes [1200 calories]
4 large eggs [280 calories]
1 cup whole milk [150 calories]
Makes about 48 biscotti
Calories per serving: 75-100
Arrange racks in the oven in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, then pre-heat to 350 degrees F. If you have an electric coffee/spice grinder, pulse the whole peppercorns until coarsely ground. If you, like us, don’t have such a fancy contraption, you can easily use a mortar and pestle to get a pretty coarse texture for the peppercorns. You don’t want them to be whole, but you also don’t want them to be ground into a fine powder either; a happy medium in between does exist.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, about ¾ of the grated cheese, and 1 tablespoon of ground peppercorns. Use a whisk to combine. Blend in butter cubes with your fingers until the dough resembles course meal.
* The original recipe suggested using a pastry blender for this part with the butter, which we also don’t have in our kitchen…yet. I found this part to be quite tricky, especially because the recipe specifically called for “cold” butter. The cubes were quite hard, and I struggled to form the “coarse meal” texture that was suggested. Next time around, I will most likely soften the butter somewhat, maybe to a little colder than room temperature, and attempt this step again. In the end, I did have some small chunks of butter spread throughout my loaves of dough, but it didn’t seem to come out poorly in the end. *
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and the milk. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dough, then use a large fork to mix everything together until a soft dough forms.
Starting with a clean workspace, flour your surface well and then turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Using a knife (or your hands, if you feel so inclined), divide the dough into four even sections.
Arrange two large ungreased baking sheets nearby. Flour your hands well, then transfer each quarter of dough to the baking sheet, one at a time, and form the dough into a slightly flattened log (12 inches long, 2 inches wide, about ¾ inches high). Arrange logs, 2 to a baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart.
* This was literally my first time making “dough” of any kind from scratch, and in all honesty, this was a bit of a struggle. Our kitchen was covered in flour from wall to wall, I swear. I believe I majorly overestimated how much flour I needed on my work surface, and the dough got sort of dry when I started trying to form it into the logs. I got my hands slightly wet, re-formed the dough into a ball, then re-floured my hands and tried to shape the dough again. This appeared to work with no ill effect. *
Whisk remaining egg in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to lightly coat the top of the dough logs with egg. Sprinkle the remaining ground peppercorns and grated cheese onto the dough logs. Arrange the sheets in the upper and lower racks of the oven, bake for 15 minutes, switch the positions of the sheets (upper to lower rack, and rotate 180 degrees), then bake for another 15 minutes. Dough logs are finished cooking when they appear pale golden and firm to the touch.
Remove baking sheets from the oven and lower the temperature to 300 degrees F. Cool dough logs on baking sheets on cooling racks for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove each dough log with a spatula to a cutting board, and slice each log, diagonally, into ½-inch thick biscotti slices. Arrange the cut slices on the baking sheets with the cut side down.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turn the biscotti slices over, then bake for another 20-25 minutes. At this point, the biscotti should be crispy and totally finished baking. If you’d like a crunchier biscotti, bake for a slightly longer amount of time.
* These biscotti are supposed to keep well in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, but I found that the texture of the biscotti changes significantly even overnight. These aren’t the tough, almost difficult to bite without spewing crumbs everywhere type of biscotti; even when freshly baked they are easy to bite into. Once they’ve sat for a little bit of time, they take on the texture of a tough loaf of French bread, which is actually just as delicious as when they first come out of the oven. *
Serve as is, or with a side of warm spinach and artichoke dip, or your choice of hummus. These are great for dipping!
This recipe was adapted from the original recipe that appeared in Gourmet magazine quite a few years ago. I also, and mainly, followed Deb’s suggestions over at Smitten Kitchen. If you’d like to see the original recipe, it can be found here
Parmesan Black-Pepper Biscotti
Parmesan Black-Pepper Biscotti.