Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cake Mix Biscotti

Has biscotti in American run it's course? 

I remember in the 90s when drinking coffee and eating biscotti became the fashionable thing to do.  (Dear Baby Boomers, please forgive the narrow focus of my youthfulness if this is totally wrong.)

"Trendy" coffee shops were popping up everywhere.

Of course, these memories are filtered through my 16-year old brain.

The same brain that was focused on pimples and straight teeth and name-brand clothing.

Back when a gallon of gas cost $1.16.

And the Dow Jones Industrial Average was soaring at 3,600 points.

(But it really did seem like America was just figuring out how awesome Italy was and trying to emulate it in every way.) 

The truth is, I've secretly hated biscotti all along.

Why would I want to eat something that I had to saw into with my molars which then exploded into a shower of crumbs on my shirt and in my lap?

Of course, true biscotti eaters know that you're supposed to dip the rock-hard cookie into your coffee or tea to soften it.

I missed that part for about 19 years.

This biscotti is made from cake mix.  Sure, that may be sacrilegious to some, but since I was just toying around with the notion that I would even like the stuff or find a pretty way to give it away, I was looking for easy.  

And easy I found.

I won't insult your intelligence with my usual step-by-step photos, but suffice it to say you have to mix the batter for MUCH longer than you'd ever dare mix a cake (3-4 minutes with an electric mixer).  You want it to be tough.  Then plop it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

I recently met a blog reader who was sincerely wondering what my kids did while I blogged:  Sarah - this zoomed-out picture is for you!

The next step is shaping the dough into a 14"x4"x1/2" rectangle.  (I doubled the recipe, fyi.)

Then bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (don't turn off the oven at this point).  Clearly, my rectangles were a little too close together.

After they've "rested" for 10 minutes after coming out of the oven, use a serrated knife to slice the "loaves" diagonally.  Don't be like me:  try to make consistent 1" slices.

Gently flip the slices on their side, and bake them for another 10 minutes.  Turn the oven off and leave them in there for 30-40 minutes, until they are really crisp. 

If you are diametrically opposed to having floating crumbs in your coffee and see no reason to crack your teeth on a teatime snack, package the biscotti to give away.  They keep for 2-3 weeks at room temperature (when in an airtight container) and freeze for forty forevers.

(Here's the printable recipe.)

Lemon Pecan Biscotti
Makes 14 slices

1 package (18.25 ounces) lemon cake mix*
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans*

Set an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.  The dough should be sticky/tough and come together in a ball.  (It should not be the more runny consistency of cake batter.)  

Scoop the dough out of the bowl and place it on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle a small amount of flour on top of the dough and "flour" your hands.  Shape the dough into a 14"x4"1/2" rectangle. 

Bake the rectangle about 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the dough cool for about 10 minutes.  Keep the oven on.  

Cutting on the baking sheet, use a serrated bread knife to slice the rectangle on the diagonal into 1-inch-thick slices.  Gently turn the slices on their side and return the baking sheet to the oven.  

Bake the slices for 10 minutes.  Then turn the oven off, keeping the biscotti in there for 30 to 40 minutes until they are crisp.  Transfer the biscotti to a rack and let them cool for about 2 hours.  Then store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

*These ingredients are infinitely interchangeable.  Swap them out with your favorite cake mix/nut combo (chocolate cake mix and pistachios, red velvet cake mix and walnuts, etc., etc.)  For extra fun, dip half of the completed biscotti into melted chocolate.

Recipe adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor


Sarah Brooks said...

Yummy!!!! Kinda wishing I didn't ruin everything I try to bake. That looks so good, I almost think I MIGHT try it.

Unknown said...

You can also NOT cook them for the second amount of time and they will be softer like a cookie...You can also cook half like cookies and the other 1/2 as the recipe states (to make them biscotti) and give them away or vice versa. I have made cake mix biscotti in almond and anise flavor and they are SO good :) and dusted with powder sugar they are fun as a cookie.