Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Gabriella's Biscotti: Guest post by Kristi Belcamino
Kristi Belcamino's first novel, Blessed are the Dead (HarperCollins 2014), is inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter. As an award-winning crime reporter at newspapers in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and watched autopsies. Find out more at www.kristibelcamino.com or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter.
I’m not a big baker. I love to cook, but find baking very challenging. What I’ve decided after years of failed, flattened, burned experiments, is that as far as baking goes, it is best to stick with the three things I can bake and perfect them. I can bake amazing homemade bread, scrumptious oatmeal cookies, and biscotti.
I gave my character, Gabriella Giovanni, this ability as well. She’s a newspaper reporter and sometimes bakes biscotti for her cop sources. Usually she bakes the plain biscotti, but if it is for a special occasion, such as something she is bringing to a holiday party, she will whip out these chocolate dipped ones.
1 ½ sticks of butter, softened, but not melted
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
18 ounces of chocolate chips
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Not too much, though. Add eggs and extracts. Beat well.
2. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together and then add to the butter mixture, blending well. (You will get a feel for what the dough should be like in your hands. You don’t want it too dry or too sticky, so you can add a tiny bit of water or flour to adjust. If you deal with bread baking at all, you’ll already have an instinctive feel for what the dough should be like, otherwise, you’ll have to experiment a little)
3. Shape dough into two long loaves on greased baking sheet.
4. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (could vary, but until lightly browned)
5. When slightly cool, slice the loaves at a gentle angle.
6. Bake on their side for 5 to 15 more minutes.
7. Set aside until completely cool.
8. Put chocolate in a bowl that fits over a pan of boiling water, but does not touch the water. Stir until chocolate is melted and there are no more lumps.
9. Remove from heat. Dip one end of each biscotti (about halfway) into the chocolate and set on a wire rack (with wax or parchment paper underneath) until chocolate sets. (You can also place rack on a flat baking sheet and refrigerate to speed up hardening process.
Note: If chocolate seems lumpy on biscotti when you first dip it, you can smooth it with a rubber spatula.