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calling all biscotti makers...

All my recipes that involve nuts seem to call for roasting and chopping the nuts first. Do you bother? Why?

I quite like my biscotti with whole almonds (a real treat - like finding silver in the christmas pud) and I don't like them to be overly 'cooked' (the almonds I mean). But I can't help but wonder if I'm missing out. As I'm trying every recipe I can find to make a good dough at the moment (for alsorts of flavours - I haven't found one for plain almond that I'm happy with yet) I don't want to change too many things or I won't be able to tell which I like best when compared. But should I really be toasting the nuts (it seems unnecessary). What do you think!?!

So far the chocolate-orange, cranberry-pistachio and lemon-macadamia (which I do chop a bit) seem most popular at work, but this lot aren't all that fussy if someone gives them free food!

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  1. One of the difficulties I have found is that if the nuts are not pre-roasted, sometimes the freshness releases oils that can make the biscotti break apart where the nuts lie. By having a toasted exterior, there is a better chance the nut will "adhere" to the dough and maintain its shape without causing a fission that would put the biscotti into crumbles.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Carrie 218

      That's funny. I was going to argue that the issue with pre-roasting them is to help crispen them and bring out their flavor and hence, if the OP wanted to disregard, he/she could. However, I think chopping them is what prevents the biscotti from breaking apart where the nuts lie. In my experience, when I have whole nuts and I cut the biscotti before the second break, I have a hard time getting nice, even slices.

    2. You mean fissure? If fission, I'm wondering if atomic biscotti is a good or a bad thing. just kidding.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RC51Mike

        Biscotti made with butter or more than two add-ins are Atomic.

        1. re: RC51Mike

          Yeah... that's what I get for reading nothing but scientific stories all morning!!!

        2. I like roasting the nuts because it gives it a toasty flavor. You can do it in the microwave, as long as you watch carefully. But, if you prefer it the way you do it, then it doesn't matter what you're "supposed" to do. I don't cut almonds and haven't had problems w/ cutting it. I don't peel the thin skin on the nuts, though, which a lot of recipes call for.

          1. Thanks for all your help - I made another two batches last night and having just polished a couple off I think...

            Mixes with butter should have toasted nuts otherwise they seem to be a bit damp (even after thorough drying), mixes without butter, the nuts don't need toasting as the dough element seems to get that much drier in the first place.

            Cutting, I use a bread knife and have a tendancy to put too many nuts in so cutting is always a bit tricky anyway as for the lack of even-ness, well they're homemade aren't they!

            6 Replies
            1. re: ali patts

              Thanks for the feedback. Do you prefer ones made w/ butter or without? I've only made them with but would venture out if it were worthwhile!

              1. re: chowser

                The "authoritive" answer seems to be that the true, dry and hard biscotti for dunking in wine or tea are made without shortening. The addition of butter softens them. If you add enough butter, you get a biscotti with the texture of a cookie.

                1. re: yayadave

                  Thanks. After the second baking, the biscotti I make with butter are really hard. I love eating them plain, after the first baking, when it's a little crunchy, but not break your jaws hard. I've seen recipes w/ oil but never one w/out any added fat, though I guess it would be healthier...

                  1. re: chowser

                    I like to get something contradictory. I like a crust outside but an inside that's not a jaw-breaker. This texture can be adjusted with the addition of shortening and drying with length of second baking. I'm sure you know all this. Sometimes I get carried away. TeeHee

                    Lots of info here.
                    http://www.ellenskitchen.com/bigpots/...

                    1. re: yayadave

                      I'm thinking of saving a few after the first batch and not baking them, so I can have them myself. Thanks for that blog--very interesting. I don't do biscotti as much as I do other cookies but when I do, I wonder why I don't do them more often. Time to play around more with them!

                      1. re: chowser

                        Know what you mean. They're like those 6 or 7 layer cookies, infinitely variable.

            2. Here's a recent thread on making biscotti. Pretty informative, too.
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/348827

              1. I agree totally, without butter tend to be hard and quite densely packed. With butter they are looser, with a cakier flavour. I am now experimenting combing the two best versions I have (1 with 1 without) to find a happy medium. Ultimately what I have found is that some flavourings benefit from a cakier dough and some don't. For example chocolate orange ines are quite nice with a butter mix but plain almond are nicer without. But, that said I am still trying flavour combinations both sweet and more savoury and I have (I think) 16 preferred combinations. Now all I need is more guinea pigs (and more flour!).

                1 Reply
                1. re: ali patts

                  I think letting the flavor combination dictate the shortening decision is right on the money. I've got a hazelnut biscotti recipe I like w/o any shortening. But my go to chocolate recipe ahs some butter in it. I don't think I've ever seen a chocolate biscotti recipe w/o shortening (always butter, i think). I've never tried to develop one, but have always simply assumed that the flavor of the chocolate isn't carried as well w/o shortening.

                  Umm, and I'm happy to function as guinea pigs in the dual experiemnt of taste testing and helping you figure out whether they travel well. I can email my address for shipments!