I said I was thinking about alternating frugal with something fancy, and today's post is the fancy one. And there is a story behind this one.
It was Christmas Season, maybe 2006—I'm not sure, though. Anyway, I was working at the restaurant and the chef was planning a BIG event to celebrate not only Christmas but also the 100th anniversary of the building that the restaurant was in. It was going to be a weekend thing; he was serving dinner at two times (doors were closed between) with no menus.
I forget what the main course was, but the desserts...sigh. Brandied Apple Pie with a lattice crust. Coconut Pie, the recipe that I found and tweaked—the one that ran as a featured item for half a year and got shipped across the country. And homemade Chocolate Ice Cream with Macadamia Nut Biscotti. (Chef also made Brie for an appetizer: a wheel of brie, topped with lingonberries, wrapped in a lattice crust and baked.)
Chef also wanted the waitstaff to be in period costume to fit with the theme of the evening. As I have a reputation for making my own clothes, and for said clothes being eccentric, chef asked me to make six late-Victorian dresses. We were planning that weekend for two months. The weekend itself was incredible.
It was also one of the most hectic days at work I've ever had. It started Friday evening, and my shift ended Friday at 5pm. I had the weekends off. Being a good restaurant, we liked the food to be fresh. Friday was filled with baking pies, roasts and mixing ice cream. Biscotti, however, takes too long to make for us to have done it that day. So we made it Thursday. Well, I made it. Chef handed me a cookbook with a bookmark, and said “Make that.”
The book had a lovely picture of Julia Child on the front, but I forget the title. The recipe was about two pages long, complete with pictures. An involved recipe; well worth the time and effort. I didn't like biscotti until I'd had if freshly made. I copied the recipe for myself. I'll give it to you as we made it then, and I will include the variations at the end.
3 tbsp baking soda
2/3 C un-blanched macadamia nuts
1 2/3 C flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp Fra' Angelico**
1 tsp vanilla
¾ C sugar
* Add the baking soda to the water and bring to a boil. Add nuts. Boil until the nuts are just soft enough not to crack. Drain and let the nuts dry.
Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Whisk eggs, liqueur, vanilla and sugar together. Add to flour and stir. Add nuts. Divide dough in half and form into chubby logs 12-13” long.
1st Bake: Bake 35 minutes at 300 degrees. Transfer from pan to cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
2nd Bake: Cut logs into ½” slices diagonally. Lay on sides on cooling rack and bake at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes—till crisp and golden brown.
Store in an airtight container. Keeps for about a month.
* We used toasted nuts, so I skipped this step.
** Try to find a liqueur that matches the flavor of the nuts used. I haven't tasted all of them, so I can't tell you all of the combinations. I would imagine that a flavored brandy or something like Triple Sec would add a fruity flavor to the finished biscotti. So it depends on what you're going for.