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Mini Spiced Apple Tarts with Chocolate

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

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It’s that time of the year where Christmas lights start going up and families plan their Thanksgiving feasts. A big part of the holidays are apples, more specifically apple pie.. YUM. There’s nothing that can be wrong with a hot, fresh, flaky and juicy apple pie. And what’s better than just a slice- a tart! Just as flaky and yummy but smaller and with CHOCOLATE. Plus at the Thanksgiving table theres GOING to be that family member(s) that doesn’t want to eat too much dessert, or a big slice or they’re watching their weight. So this is the PERFECT addition to your dessert spread!

Petite decadent pastry shells filled with moist apples, brown sugar, spices and zest topped with lucisious chocolate and the only things left to complete the deal is your hand and mouth! I swear by Williams & Sonoma Basic Pastry Dough recipe because it’s easy, fast and super tasty. I just tweek it a bit of course!

OF COURSE I used my AMAZING Babycakes Machine and the tarts  they came out so cute and petite! However, these can be done in regular mini-muffin tin pans.

Basic Pastry Dough:

Spiced Apple Filling:

  • 4 green apples– peeled and cubed small
  • 2/3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (fresh is so much better!)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange zest
  • pinch clove powder
  • PAM Baking Flavor

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 3-4 bittersweet chocolate squares (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 2-3 tbsp half & half (I used fatfree Land-o-Lakes)
  • 2-3 tbsp warm water

Before Chocolate..

For the Pie Dough:

1. In a food processor add the flour, salt and sugar and pulse until blended. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter chunks are small pea sized. While pulsing, slowly dribble in the cold water. Add enough water until the dough has turned into a rough mass.

2. Place dough mixture on a floured counter and form into a 1-2 inch thick disk. Wrap with plastic and place in the fridge for AT LEAST 2 hours.

For the Apple Mixture:

1. In a bowl mixture together all the ingredients listed above. Place aside.

Putting it together..

**If using a conventional oven, preheat to about 375. Spray the muffin tins.

1. After 2+ hours, remove the dough from the fridge onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a thin pastry sheet (just before its thin enough to see through! Using a round 3 inch cookie cutter or a knife, cut out circles. Regardless of whether you’re using the babycakes machine or regular muffin tins, make sure to SPRAY them. Line each cup with the circles of dough pressing lightly into the cup to create a tart shell. If using babycakes machine, use the pie tart tool to press into the cups. Bake for about 5 minutes or until the shells are slightly cooked and slightly golden.

2. Remove the tins from the oven/ open the babycakes machine lid. Add enough apple filling to come over the top of the tin a little. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until apples are soft and crust is golden brown and crispy. Remove each tart from the tin/babycakes machine and let cool on a rack.

Pouring the Drizzle..

1. Heat chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for about 45 second. Pour in milk and 1 tbsp of water. Heat for another 30-40 second. Stir and if not melted, add another tbsp hot water and heat for another 30 second. Stir until smooth and glistening. You want the consistency to be a bit thin so you can drizzle the tarts.

2. Using a small whisk or spoon (I used a spoon) drizzle the tarts in a fast back and forth motion until tops are covered. Cool until chocolate is hardened.

Makes about 20 tarts

Serving Suggestions:

Hot with fresh whip cream and chocolate curls

Hot with fresh vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream

Hot with a nice cup of coffee

Wanna See More Recipes Using the Babycakes Machine?

 

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3 Comments

Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Baking, Chef Priyanka, Fruit, Sweets

 

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Homemade Brioche Loaf Recipe

Egg yolks.

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I don’t think I’ve ever actually made homemade bread..well actually my parents used to way back in the day when we bought this toaster oven that was also a bread maker (yes, very clever invention). Other than that I usually buy my bread from a bakery or regular supermarket- I’m a little too lazy to sit there kneading dough and all that. But I was in DESPERATE need for a loaf of Brioche for my Herbed Fig & Walnut Brioche Stuffing, but apparently all the Italians on Staten Island (nor the Panera) don’t make Brioche!! I searched in multiple supermarkets, called various bakeries and stalked the Panera website to see if they have a loaf similar to brioche. But everything was either too complicated and fruity or it simply wasn’t available!

My mother was trying to persuade me to make another kind of stuffing, but I was too set on making this yummy Brioche stuffing to give up on my main ingredient! Then I decided, wait I cook, I bake, why don’t I just MAKE a loaf of Brioche? To my surprise, the recipe is SUPER simple, and literally contains ingredients that are staples in a household. Butter, milk, sugar and eggs (I had to buy the yeast, but no biggy!). It’s simple and really delicious- so good that I was tempted to eat it right then and there instead of making my stuffing with it! So, here we go!

Simple Brioche Recipe:

  • 1 2/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp wet yeast, crumbled (or dry-bakers yeast is fine) I used wet because that’s all my deli had!
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp cut into pieces (yes, this obviously is not one of my healthy recipes)
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 cup warm milk (I used Skim Plus)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk with a dash of sugar (for the glaze)
  • PAM baking flavor

Tempted yet?

No fancy tools here- I used my hands!! You can use a mixer attached with a dough hook. You DO need a loaf pan though.

1. In a large bowl add flour and yeast and mix well. Create a hole in the middle of the flour mixture.

2. Slowly dribble the warm milk into the middle, while mixing the dough in with your finger tips. It’ll form into rough dough pieces.

3. Add the salt and sugar and combine well. Add the soft butter piece by piece, mixing well after each addition with your fingers. At this point I started to knead the dough to make sure each piece of butter was incorporated well.

4. Once all the butter is incorporated, add each egg ONE AT A TIME, and knead into dough. Mix well before the 2nd egg, making sure all the white and yolk and combined into the dough. Dough will be very sticky and wet. Knead and mix until the dough becomes and elastic and pulls away from your fingers and bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic and set in a warm place to rise. I put mine in the oven (it was off obviously), so no drafts hit it.

After 2 hours..

5. By now it should have doubled in size. Mix and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Rip into 4 even sized balls. Spray loaf pan with PAM and place the 4 balls in a row. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise again.

After 1 hour..

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7. In a small bowl mix together yolk and sugar. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops on the rolls. Using a scissor, cut small vents on top of each roll.

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350 and bake for another 20-30 minutes until top is golden brown and shiny and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (I baked mine for 25 minutes). Remove and cool before slicing/serving.

Makes 1 standard size loaf

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Baking, Chef Priyanka

 

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Snowy Chocolate Cupcakes

Home-made chocolate cupcakes Self-raising flou...

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Source: chefpriyanka.wordpress.com

Did you ever want to make just a few cupcakes for maybe you and your immediate family or some friends? Isn’t it annoying when recipes are written to serve like 24 cupcakes- does anyone reallyneed to eat 24 cupcakes? No. Aside from the fact that it’s not healthy, it’s just completely unnecessary if you’re not having a party or get-together. So, I decided to make these cupcakes in a small batch, therefore nothing goes to waste and no one is compelled to eat more (even though they’re so delicious you’re going to want to eat like 5 of them at one sitting :) ).

Scrumptious chocolate cupcakes topped with lucisious dark chocolate frosting and snow! And by snow I mean sweetened coconut flakes- yummy! They’re easy to make and even easier to eat! And the cake is unbelievably moist because I used homemade buttermilk of course! Oh, if you’re wondering what kind of cupcake liner I used, they’re Reynolds Wrap! I did not use mybabycakes machine with this recipe- I know surprise surprise! I was in the mood for a regular sized cupcake :) .

Snowy Chocolate Cupcakes:

1. PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 cup cupcake sheet with PAM and place liners in each cup. Set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate squares in the microwave and set aside to cool a bit. Meanwhile in large bowl beat together softened butter, brown and white sugar until creamy. Add the egg and beat until combined well about 2 minutes. Using a spatula stir in the melted chocolate.

3. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa. In a small bowl combine buttermilk and vanilla- set aside.

4. With the mixer on low, add in about 1/3 of the flour mixture and blend well. Then add about 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture and blend well. Continue adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, alternating and mixing well between each addition. Scrape sides of bowl with the spatula. DO NOT OVER MIX.

5. Pour about 2 hefty tbsp of mixture into each cup. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove and cool before frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Frosting:

  • 4 tbsp Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2  cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Ghiradelli Brand)
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate melted (I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao Bar)
  • 3 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp Milk (I used skim plus)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. In a large bowl combine melted butter and cocoa. Add the melted chocolate. Mix well until lumps are smooth. Using a hand mixer beat in confectioner’s sugar and 2-3 tbsp of milk. Beat until thick and creamy- I like my frosting really thick because it’s easier to pipe that way. However, you can add more or less milk depending on your desired consistency.

2. Place frosting into a piping bag with a medium round tip, or cut off a small corner of a big ziplock bag. Pipe into swirls on the cooled cupcakes. Top with a generous amount of sweetened coconut and serve!

Makes about 2 cups

Like Cupcakes? Try These!

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes

Vanilla-Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberries

 

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Banana Bread Cake Pops

Banana bread with chocolate.

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This past weekend was my boyfriend’s birthday and I planned a surprise party for him (yes, I can be sweet when I try!). So, I decided to treat everyone to some quick, sweet bites- Banana Bread Cake Pops. Why the Banana Bread? Well, it’s a staple in the Naik House- we always have some moist, chocolatey and nutty banana bread that my boyfriend always goes home with. Let’s just say he REALLY likes our banana bread! I thought, why don’t I just use that banana bread and make them into cake pops? Plus, no guests likes to stand around holding a plate and fork chowing down a slice of cake! I mean no one said that cake pops have to be made with a particular type of cake, or cake at all!

I combined a tweeked version of our Banana Bread recipe with sweet banana frosting and enrobed it in deep, dark chocolate. Now, if that doesn’t sound good to you, than I don’t what does! If you’re not a banana fan (like me), you’re palette is definitely going to change after you take a bite out of these!

Banana Bread Recipe:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan with PAM. Set aside.

1. In a medium-sized bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl whisk together eggs, cream and oil until well combined. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, break up the banana and add sugar.

Using a hand mixer, whip together until fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the wet ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.

Add the flour mixture (I added 1/2 cup at a time) and continue beating for 2 minutes longer. DO NOT OVER BEAT! Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until inserted wooden toothpicks comes out clean. Set aside to cool for an hour.

Banana Frosting:

1. In a large bowl mash the banana with the lemon juice. Mix in the vanilla and milk.

Using a hand mixer, blend banana mixture together on medium-low speed until slightly smooth. Add the sugar in slowly and continuously with the blender on medium-low. As the frosting becomes thicker, increase the speed of the mixer. Frosting should have a thick and creamy consistency- you don’t want it to be too thick. If it is too thick, you can add a little milk.

Makes 2 cups of Frosting

Coating:

  • 5 3.5oz Dark Chocolate Bars (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Brand)
  • Sugar Pearls- any color
  • 1/2 3.5oz White Chocolate Bar (I used Ghiradelli Brand)

1. In a large clear bowl, break dark chocolate bar into small pieces. Microwave for 35 second. Remove and stir with a spatula. Continue until chocolate is almost all melted. Stir vigorously to melt remaining pieces and the chocolate will become shiny. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. When you’re ready to decorate, melt the white chocolate the same way.

To Make Cake Pop Balls:

1. Once the banana bread is cool, break it up into a large bowl.

2. Use a little more than 1 cup of the banana frosting, and stir into the crumbled banana bread. Mix well. The consistency should be almost like a thick, crumbly dough:

3. Using your hands, grab a little bit of the dough and roll into 1-2 inch balls. Ass your rolling, press the dough together to make sure its compacted tightly- you don’t want them falling apart later on! If your hand gets super sticky, just dab a little warmer on them and continue rolling. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper:

Freeze for about 2 hours, or until the balls are cool and hard.

4. Once the chocolate is melted and cooled to room temperature, stick the cookie stick into each cake pop, and dip the balls until completely coated and smooth. Remove and carefully place back on parchment lined sheet. Dip each ball, making sure that they’re dipped all around, and there are no rough edges. If decorating with sugar pearls, coat the tops with a few pearls right after you dip the cake pops. If decorating with white chocolate drizzle, let cool (overnight preferably).

Pour the melted white chocolate in a small ziplock bag and cut a TINY part of the corner off. Drizzle the cooled cake pops, going back and forth until a pretty lined drizzle-effect appears. Let cool for about 2 hours.

5. I served mine in a rectangular basket, filled with a styrofoam piece (so they stay put), and everyone loved them!

Makes about 48-50 Cake Pops


 
 

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Rose Infused Red Velvet Cake Pops

Photograph of a slice of a 4-layer red velvet ...

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by chefpriyanka

Growing up I wasn’t a very big fan of Valentine’s Day. I don’t really like red roses and I hate hearts (maybe I’m traumatized by all the heart shaped jewelry that Staten Island girls wore). But, nonetheless I do like to indulge in chocolate and desserts whether or not I have a valentine. There’s no rule that says ‘you can only eat chocolate & strawberries if you have a valentine.’ If you want to make a special dessert for yourself or a loved one then this recipe is perfect for you!

I’ve been seeing ‘Cake Pops’ pop up everywhere! It’s the new fad in the dessert world. If you’re not aware of their existence let me fill you in. It’s moist cake mixed with frosting and enrobed in chocolate. And what’s better than rich Red Velvet cake enrobed in intensely dark chocolate? Well, infusing it with rose and topping with real silver leaf are just a few tweeks and additions that I thought would make it go from great to awesome. The process isn’t hard, it’s just a bit time consuming. But, if you’re looking to indulge and treat yourself or a loved one, then the time and effort are definitely worth it!

Red Velvet Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups + 5 tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli Bran)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used Homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tsp white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • PAM Baking Flavor

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened (I used Philadelphia Brand)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp rose water/essence

Chocolate Coating:

  • 4-5 bars dark chocolate, melted (I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao)
  • silver leaf (optional)- available at Indian Grocery Stores

Process:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rectangular pan (~9×13) with PAM and line with parchment paper. Spray with PAM and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix and set aside. In a large bowl add the eggs, buttermilk, vinegar, oil, food color and rose water. Using a hand mixer beat on low for 1-2 minutes until blended well. With the mixer on low, add about 1/2 cup of the dry ingredients and blend. Do this continuously until the dry ingredients are blended well with the wet ingredients and is smooth. Do not over beat. Pour into greased pan and bake for 35 minutes. Turn halfway through.

3. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Using the sides of the parchment sheet, lift the cake out and cool for another 15-20 minutes or until completely cool. Using a serrated knife, trim off the hard edges.

4. In a large bowl add cream cheese, butter and rose water. Beat on low speed for 1-2 until creamy and blended. While beating add in 1/2 cup at a time of confectioner’s sugar. Beat until everything is blended and creamy (resembles frosting).

5. In a large bowl crumble the whole cake into small pieces. Mix in the frosting using a spatula until its incorporated well and resembles a thick crumbly dough. Roll into 1-2 inch thick balls. Press together with fingers to make sure that the cake sticks together as a ball, and smooth using the palms of your hands. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for about 1 hours- till its chilled & hard, not frozen solid.

6. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl. Take about 4 balls out of the freezer at a time and thoroughly coat each ball, dunking them into the bowl of chocolate. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet to dry. Decorate tops with drizzled chocolate (optional). Once the balls are all dry (few hours or over night) carefully decorate with the silver leaf.

 

Like Chocolate AND Dessert AND Yumminess?

Banana Bread Cake Pops

 

 

Snowy Chocolate Cupcakes

 

 

Mini Apple Tartlets with Chocolate

 

Peppermint Bark

 

 

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Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Cake Pops

Don’t need much of an introduction for these yummy pops, besides mentioning that they’re CRAZY easy to make and I used a slightly ghetto cake-pop method. What! I wanted cake pops fast and I was tired! Jeez, a chef can take some shortcuts!

Anyways, I used Betty Crocker chocolate Chip Cookie mix and instead of using regular butter, I used Land-O-Lakes 50% less fat butter spread. The result was fluffy cake-like chocolate-chip goodness. Why you may ask did I use buttery spread? Well, since I’m just a little obsessed with being healthy, I decided to cut the fat and calories a bit by using the 50% less fat spread! It was amazing!

Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Cake Pops:

  • 1 package Betty Crocker Chocolate-Chip Cookie Mix
  • 1/2 cup 50% less fat butter spread/margarine- at room temperature (I used Land-o-Lakes)
  • 1 egg- at room temperature
  • PAM Baking Flavor
  • 1 cup homemade vanilla frosting
  • 2-3 cups melted dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao)

Vanilla Frosting:

  • 2-3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk (I used Skim Plus)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2-1 tbsp unsalted butter– at room temperature (Yes, I used real butter for this)

1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with PAM. In a large bowl add cookie mix, egg and butter. Mix all together until incorporated well and forms into cookie-dough texture. Drop about 2 tbsp rounds onto the cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until soft, and medium-brown on the bottom. Remove and cool.

2. To make the frosting, in a large bowl add the butter and beat with a hand mixer until creamy. With the mixer on low add in the sifted confectioner’s sugar, increasing the speed as you add more sugar. After you’ve added all the sugar, beat in about 2-3 tbsp milk and vanilla extract. Frosting should be thick and cream (as if you were to frost a cupcake). Pour more/less milk to achieve that consistency.

3. In a large bowl crumble about 3/4 of the batch of cookies. Add the frosting and mix until you’ve reached a crumbly, dough-like consistency. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheet to freeze for about 30 minutes. Before freezing, place a lollipop stick into the balls, so the stick hardens with the cake and stays put. Remove and dip one-by-one into the melted, cooled chocolate. stand up-right in a glass or stick into a styrofoam slab to dry. Eat! I liked mine with a glass of cold fat-free milk :)

 
14 Comments

Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Baking, Chef Priyanka, Chocolate

 

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Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

A bowl of cocoa powder.

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Chocolate BiscottiChocolate Biscotti

A work colleague once asked me if I order in restaurants the same way that I order coffee.  I thought his comment was pretty funny, especially since the weekend before my husband had said I was a waiter’s worst nightmare.

“What do you mean?” I asked my husband.

“Well, you like to change everything in the dish.  You want to order the steamed fish but have them fry it instead, and have the sauce on the side instead of pouring it over the fish – and if it comes with potatoes, you want rice instead!”  He said.

Surely he was exaggerating!

But I did have to concede to my work colleague that being finicky with my coffee never earned me any brownie points with the baristas.  One day I’m having a cappuccino with one sugar then the next I’m having it with one and a half sugars.  Then I learned that you get more milk with a latte so I switched to that (with one sugar).  Then I went off coffee and started having chai lattes – then soy chai lattes, then I missed my coffees and got back on to the lattes – but I wanted a weak latte, one and a half sugars and chocolate sprinkles on top…. oh and extra creamy.

And then I switched to tea – but that’s a whole different story altogether!

 

The one thing that remains constant though, is my love for a great biscotti.  Regardless of what drink I’m having, a perfectly made biscotti always goes well.  I simply love biscotti as it makes the perfect snack with tea (or coffee), especially since you can store it and bring it out when you have unexpected visitors.  This recipe keeps for up to a week in an airtight container.

I’m especially partial to this Chocolate and Almond Biscotti recipe.

When making this remember the dough is quite soft – so I used some cling wrap to shape the dough and then chilled it in the refrigerator which made handling much easier.

You’ll also want to make sure to have a sharp serrated knife so that when you cut the biscotti.  Remember, aim to cut the biscotti in one go – avoid a back and forth motion so you don’t shatter the loaf.

Chocolate BiscottiChocolate Biscotti

Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

  • 140 grams flour
  • 25 grams Lindt Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 60 grams butter
  • 50 grams Lindt Excellence 70% Chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 60 grams almond slivers
  1. In a bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, using a hand held whisk, beat the egg, egg yolk, salt and sugar. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly. In a bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave for around 30 seconds (this will depend on the strength of your microwave)
  3. Add the butter and chocolate to the egg mixture and then add the flour mixture. Fold the mixture until smooth.
  4. Add the almond slivers evenly throughout the batter. The dough should be quite soft.
  5. Line a baking sheet with some cling wrap and place the dough onto the cling wrap and shape into a loaf, around 6 cm wide. Use the cling wrap to shape the loaf. Smooth and even the sides and cover with the cling wrap. Place the baking sheet with the biscotti load in the refrigerator and allow to chill for around 2 hours.
  6. Once chilled, remove the cling wrap and place the loaf in the center of a baking sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 175c (fan forced)
  7. Bake the biscotti for around 30 minutes until the loaf has spread and risen. The loaf should feel firm when pressed.
  8. Cool the load on the pan on a wire rack. When cooled, use a sharp serrated knife to slice the baked loaf, around 1 cm thick.
  9. Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the slices over and bake for another 8 minutes. Cool the biscotti completely.

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Baking, Chocolate

 

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