Today is Tuesday and yes, we are ready for another challenge; our own TWD gluten free challenge. This week’s hosts are Jodi of Home Made and Wholesome, and Katrina of Baking and Boys. Check out their websites for the original recipe, which can also be found on page 315 of Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. Just for the fun of it, we looked up a video on YouTube from the PBS Baking with Julia series. It features Julia with Alice Medrich, making the Hazelnut Biscotti and you can watch it here.
First of all, we should mention that aside from the obvious (gluten free flour – our brown rice/tapioca flour blend), we did make two other changes to Julia’s recipe. Hazelnuts were difficult to locate in our area, but we did find roasted unsalted pistachios, which made a delicious alternative.
The advantage of using pistachios, apart from their great flavor, is the ease of removing the shells as well as any remaining skins, allowing us to completely skip the initial step of boiling the nuts in hot water with baking soda.
As a rule, we never use white sugar, ever, or brown, raw, or whatever. We also never use any artificial substitutes, so readily found today. In general, we are very fond of coconut sugar as an alternative, and since some of us will actually be eating this dessert , that was a definite must. In case you are not familiar with it, coconut sugar has a very low glycemic index, and is generally well tolerated by most. Please be aware, that this will darken any recipe considerably. No ‘anemic looking’ batters here. With our own addition of one quarter cup of dark chocolate chips (suggested by Julia in her book), it didn’t really matter.
The quantities suggested in the original recipe remained the same. We did need to add two extra tablespoons of flour. Gluten free baking does require slight alterations in either liquids, or the flour used, but since we live at high altitude this could have played a role as well.
As mentioned in the recipe, this dough is very sticky, stiff and little challenging to work with. The gluten free bakers amongst us can certainly relate to this. Since many GF creations tend to spread outward, instead of rising upward, we lined a 9×7 baking pan with parchment paper, creating a raised edge in the center with the paper, to separate the two loaves, just in case. An additional 3 tablespoons of sweet rice flour were necessary for flouring our hands, in order to shape the loaves.
Defying our initial expectations, the loaves rose beautifully.
After baking for exactly 35 minutes, we let the loaves cool for about 20 minutes, before slicing them, and baking them again for an additional 12 minutes. After the second baking cycle we let them cool completely.
We actually baked this recipe last night, and lacked optimal lighting for photographing, which put us in somewhat of a quandary. The house filled with the delicious aroma of the baking biscottis, yet, we had to wait another day to actually taste them. Well, not quite, we did sample a tiny end piece in all of its crunchy deliciousness .
Aside from our own unique gluten free challenges, we found this recipe to be extremely easy to make for even the most novice baker. This recipe would lend itself for easy gift giving. When it comes to this recipe, allow your own creativity free reign for any fun and tasty substitutions you can think of. Perhaps some dried fruit, goji berries anyone? Chocolate drizzles for decorating after baking, the sky is the limit.
What are your favorite biscottis? Have you baked this type of cookie before? Whether you are eating gluten free or not, we would love to hear from you.
So far, we are really enjoying participating in the TWD challenges and are looking forward to the next one.