Pistachio-orange biscotti

There's something about biscotti that I really like.  Maybe it's the very satisfying crunch, the way it's usually studded with nuts (one of my favorite ingredients), or the fact that they're a fairly light yet hearty snack that goes so well with a cup of hot coffee or tea.
Last Spring when I first started this blog, I made biscotti for the very first time in the form of almond biscotti.  I realized they were fun to make, not difficult, and seriously delicious.  I've made that recipe a few times now and I've been wanting to try another variation.  So this time, I took that same recipe and tweaked it to make pistachio-orange biscotti instead.  These are traditional biscotti - no butter and super crisp, the way I like them.  They're studded with pistachios and flavored with orange zest.  The orange zest is amazing - I think of it as this magical ingredient that adds a ton of flavor and aroma to the food. 
It's hard to pick a favorite between the two varieties of biscotti I've made now.  I generally love all things almond but the orange zest really makes these biscotti here and adds so much flavor.  I might never make biscotti without some sort of citrus zest thrown in ever again.
It's time for a coffee break.

I divided the recipe in half and made half a batch, which yields about 15-16 biscotti.  I start by zesting an orange directly on top of the sugar that's been set in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Zest dries out pretty quickly so zesting directly on top of the sugar ensures you capture all the essential oils.
I picked up this zesting trick from Dorie Greenspan.  Use your fingers and rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is a bit moist and aromatic.  You get maximum mileage out of that zest this way.
Add eggs and vanilla extract and whisk the mixture on medium speed for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt.  
Once the wet and dry ingredients are mixed, stir in the pistachios.  I looked around online to figure out whether I should use raw or toasted pistachios and whether it matters if the skin is still attached.  There was no definitive answer out there.  In the end, I bought and used toasted, unsalted pistachios in their shells and removed the shells.  Don't worry about the bits of the skin left on the pistachios. 
When the pistachios have been mixed into the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  If you make the full recipe, you should divide the dough into 2 separate logs, about 4 inches wide.  Use wet hands to shape the logs.  Transfer the log(s) to a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, using a metal spatula if you need a little help lifting it up.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  The log will be very lightly browned and dry to the touch.  Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.  Let cool for about 15 minutes.
Slice the log on a slight diagonal, about 1/2 inch thick.  Bake for another 20-25 minutes until the cookies are dry and crisp. 
I might be in the minority but I really like biscotti very crunchy.  It wakes me right up.  I heard crunchy foods are a great stress reliever - is that way I love chips so much?  Anyway...if you're like my husband who prefers a softer bite, dunk them in some hot coffee or cappuccino. 
I'm really happy I made these.  I must still have the holidays on my mind because I've been thinking these would make a nice Christmas gift for someone you know who likes biscotti.  The spots of green and specks of bright orange make them a bit festive and since there's no butter in the recipe and these are intended to be dry anyway, they keep for a while and make a good choice for gifting.

Recipe:

Pistachio-Orange Biscotti
Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

- Yields approximately 30 biscotti -

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Zest of 2 oranges (or roughly 2 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of pistachios (I use toasted, unsalted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  You'll use the first to bake the logs and will need two once the logs are sliced and cookies are baked a second time.

Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) together in a bowl.

Fit the whisk attachment onto your stand mixer.  Add sugar into the bowl of the mixer and zest the orange directly on top of the sugar.  Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until the mixture is fragrant and a bit moist.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  Whisk on medium speed for about 5-7 minutes until mixture is thickened.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the flour mixture by hand with a rubber spatula.  Add the pistachios and combine into the dough.

Dust your countertop or work surface lightly with flour.  Divide the dough into 2 and turn out onto the floured surface.  Moisten your hands a bit with some cold water and shape the dough into 2 logs about 4" wide and smooth the tops.  You can make them a little thinner in diameter so that you end up with a higher number of smaller cookies, if you prefer.  Place the logs onto one parchment lined baking sheet.  Space them a little bit apart; the logs will spread a little while baking but not too much.  If you have trouble moving them onto the baking sheet, use a metal spatula to help you with the transport and re-shape the dough logs with moistened hands once they're on the baking sheet.  You can wet a clean rubber spatula and smooth the dough out this way as well.

Bake the logs for 20 minutes, rotating the sheet pan after the first 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Let the logs cool for about 15 minutes before placing onto a cutting board to slice.

Once the logs are cool enough to handle, slice them on a slight diagonal with a serrated knife, about 1/2 inch thick.  Place cookies on a baking sheet.  You should end up with 2 full baking sheets of sliced cookies.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the cookies are dry and firm.  Let cool completely on wire racks.

Once cooled completely, store the biscotti in an airtight container between layers of parchment.



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