Pumpkin and chai are two of the most quintessential autumn flavors. This simple homemade biscotti is a softer version than commercial biscotti. It is not a difficult recipe, but be sure and check out the tips for success.
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What is Biscotti?
Biscotti is an Italian “cookie” that typically comes in long logs or bars. Often, biscotti uses different dried fruits like cranberries or cherries and various nuts like pistachios or walnuts.
Some biscotti have a small lining of chocolate on the bottom, or have small chocolate chunks mixed in.
Biscotti are often served with coffee. If you’re not a coffee drinker, they’re also great dunked in this spicy Mexican hot chocolate. To amp up the chai flavor, you could also eat them with a cup of golden chai tea.
They make great brunch buffet items, but you’ll want to make sure to put them in an air tight container after everyone is done eating so they keep their stiffness.
Common Issues when Making Biscotti
I was a little intimated by biscotti since I had never made it before, but it’s really just a cookie that has been toasted after baking.
The hardest part was working with a sticky dough. I wanted a recipe that wasn’t as rock hard as some of the biscotti, but still had the crunch and the “longevity” of a classic Italian biscotti.
I pieced together many different recipes until I got what I wanted…a flavorful pumpkin biscotti that would not break my son’s teeth but would last through shipping and a college kid’s idea of storage.
I finally landed on a recipe I adapted from many sources, including America’s Test Kitchen and Cooking Light.
Tips for Success for Homemade Biscotti
Although the process of making biscotti is fairly simple, some issues can arise.
Here are some common issues and ideas on how to solve them:
- Cracking on the first bake: This is likely due to too high cooking temperature or cooking for too long. On the first bake, the biscotti should be a cake-like texture.
- Falling apart when slicing: You want to let the biscotti cool completely, using a wire rack to allow air flow around the whole biscotti. Don’t leave the biscotti for too long, however, or it will get too dry and be hard to slice.
- Too soft: If your biscotti are too soft, your oven temperature may not be high enough. Some recipes I looked at used butter or oil, and traditional biscotti does not use either butter or oil as it will make them softer.
Recipes for Homemade Food for Care Packages
- Pumpkin Amaretto Bread is great for Fall or Halloween package
- Raspberry Swirl Brownies
- Spicy Peanut Brittle
- Chocolate Pistachio Quick Bread
- Low Carb Zucchini Coconut Bread is good for those on a diet
- Red Velvet Cookies are great for Valentines Day
- Red Crinkle Cookies – another easy treat for Valentines Day
- Pfeffernusse cookies are an often requested treat for Christmas packages
- Don’t forget something to drink! This herbal mint tea is a perfect pairing.
If you are sending care packages to college kids, be sure and check out these ideas that go beyond food.
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Pumpkin Chai Biscotti
Chai Spice Mixture
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Chai spice mixture
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- ¾ cups nuts either walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or pistachios
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the chai spice mixture.1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon freshly ground cloves, 1 tablespoon freshly ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Combine flour, salt, baking powder and 2 teaspoons of the chai spice mixture into a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk.2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons Chai spice mixture
- In a stand mixer, beat together sugar and eggs on high speed until thick and smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Add pumpkin and vanilla and blend together over medium speed until combined.1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Add flour mixture, a cup at a time, beating at low speed just until blended. Fold in the nuts and zest with a spoon or spatula until combined.2 tablespoons orange zest, 3/4 cups nuts
- Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and get your hands wet. Divide the dough in half and turn out onto the baking sheet, placing each half 3-4" apart. Shape each portion into a log about 10" long and 3" wide and flatten to about a 1" thickness. (The dough will be sticky and somewhat hard to work with; keep your hands moist to help. I "patted" them into shape).
- Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the pan around in the oven halfway through baking to evenly crisp the logs. The center of the logs should be firm to the touch when done.
- Remove the logs from the baking sheet onto a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
- Using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into approximately 1/2" slices (see note below for thinly sliced biscotti). Place slices, cut side down, on baking sheet, about 1" apart. Bake at 325 for about 10 minutes (5 minutes for softer biscotti). Flip cookies over and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Cookies will be slightly soft in the center but will harden as they cool. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.
- Drizzle with melted white chocolate if desired. Biscotti can be stored in airtight container for about 1 month or you can freeze them until you are ready to send.
- If you prefer crisper biscotti, let them sit overnight, uncovered in a dry space.
- For easily cutting biscotti into very thin cookies, wrap the logs and freeze them overnight. The next day slice them as thin as desired and then do the second baking.