Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I biscotti del Dottore

These are the 'Doctor's cookies' - good to provide at Ph.D. defenses - eheheheh :)
I have to explain something to my Italian friends, since we never provide food at
Ph.D. defenses. In Italy a Ph.D. defense lasts 20 minutes+5 min questions and there are usually 5 candidates per session.. Negli Stati Uniti, invece, ogni candidato ha un giorno che decide lui stesso per discutere la tesi. C'e' una commissione con 4 membri, scelti dal candidato (uno dev'essere il relatore). Il candidato presenta la sua tesi per 40-50 minuti, poi c'e' una sessione di domande aperte al pubblico, e poi una parte di domande a porte chiuse, a cui solo la commissione e' ammessa. Quest'ultima puo' dare da pochi minuti a due-tre ore. Data la lunghezza del tutto, di solito il candidato fornisce caffe', bevande e biscotti o simili cibarie..
So obviously I decided I wanted to bake the cookies for Lucas, where else could I have found a best occasion to prove my 'wizard of the kitchen' abilities? One of the recipes that I chose was supposed to be irresistibly good and it was actually said: make these cookies if you want to 'enchant' someone :) - so, sure, I wanted people to be in a good mood :)
So I made
Biscotti morbidi all'arancio e cioccolato (soft cookies with orange and chocolate)

Biscotti allo sherry e marmellata (sherry and jam cookies)

Recipes follow..

Biscotti morbidi all'arancio e cioccolato
I modified a recipe taken from cooker. I'll give you my version, since it ended up a bit far from the original. Unfortunately my doses are very approximative. My school of thought is that if you put together good ingredients and you end up whith a consistency that seems about right, something good will come out. :) :) :) - and I do like to try the dough before I bake it so I can see if it's sweet enough. I know, I'm terrible...Anyway let's try to list the ingredients
4 tbsp butter, melted
1.5 cup flour
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp baking powder
Mix the flour, the sugar and the yeast. Add the butter and the orange juice. If it's too liquid add flour. If it's too solid add orange juice. The final dough must be nicely elastic, so you can make it thin enough with a rolling pin. Before using the rolling pin, taste the dough. If it's not sweet enough add sugar. If it's not orangy enough add orange juice and flour.
Make it flat and thin (~5/32" - 4 mm in civilized units :) ). Cut it into round shapes with a glass if you don't have anything better like me. Put the cookies on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 400F for ~12 minutes. Take out when they are golden. In the meanwhile melt 3 squares of baker's chocolate with a bit of milk. Heat until melted, and until the chocolate starts to make little tiny bubbles. At that point it should be of the right consistency. Immerse half of each cooky in the chocolate sauce. The sauce should be thick enough to hold onto the cookies and make a nice thick chocolate layer on them. Place on other baking sheets. NB this is the most time-consuming operation because you have to keep the sauce at the right consistency, which won't happen because it will start solidify before you're done, so you will add some milk, heat it up again, and so on..
I decided I would sprinkle some of the cookies with powdered sugar before the 'chocolating' operation, in case someone liked sweeter cookies.
The orginal recipe suggested to put the cookies in the fridge to let the chocolate solidify. I don't know if I misinterpreted this, but I left them overnight and covered them with some plastic foil not to have them smell like fridge.. so in the end the cookies turned out to be softer than I thought they would have been. They were very good and if you didn't expect them to be harder they were perfect. I just think that next time I won't put them in the fridge at all and I'll leave them cool down in open air.

Biscotti allo sherry e marmellata
I took this recipe from fiordizucca and obviously modified it according to my taste. The main modifications are decrease in butter and addition of sherry. (I also changed the state of the butter for easiness)
Again, here are my approximate ingredients
4 tbsps butter melted
1 and 1/4 cups flour
1 egg
~1/3 cup sugar
~3 tbsp sherry
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Jam (I used blueberry jam, fiordizucca used orange. Choose what you like best!)
Powdered sugar
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, sugar. Add the egg, beaten, the butter and the sherry. The final consistency must be workable with a rolling pin but not elastic. It must break if you pull it.
Spread with rolling pin until thin enough (see other recipe), then cut with the shape you like best. I need to buy some shapes for cookies. I just cut squares out of the dough. Cut a hole with the shape you prefer in half of the cookies you prepared.
Bake at 400F for ~7 min. Check after 5. Remove from the oven when golden.
Spread the jam on the cookies without the hole and stick on top the cookies with the hole. Add powdered sugar for decoration.

Both types of cookies were really amazingly good, so thanks to both Fiordizucca and Missbaggins for the ideas. It was fun to make them, although a bit elaborate for both of them.

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