Saturday, February 18, 2006

Late Night with Biscotti & Masala Chai

What a combination! I've loved biscotti and chai for many years and bringing the two together is a most sensual experience for me, indeed. I've thought of making my own biscotti for nearly two years, but again, fear kept me from it. Well, tonight that all changed. Armed with a couple of good recipes, the cover of night, and a glass of Merlot, I kicked fear to the curb and went for it. Since the flavours of chocolate, orange and cardamom play so beautifully together, I decided to blend them all and throw in a few nuts as well.

Chocolate-Orange Biscotti & Masala ChaiChocolate-Orange Biscotti & Masala Chai

It seems that baking after 9pm agreed with me tonight, perhaps because I was no longer in hyper mode. Whatever the reason, to my surprise and pleasure, my first batch of biscotti turned out much better than I had imagined. As far as I'm concerned, they have an excellent balance of chocolate and orange and their crispiness is perfect for dipping or eating on their own (but you'll have to judge that for yourself). These crunchy little treats are the results of my combining two recipes I discovered at Epicurious, and I'm telling ya'll, these babies are straight coolness! I am having way too much fun over here with this new baking thing. I think I'm beginning to understand why The Cardamom Addict seems to be so hooked on it.

One thing I'm learning from baking is patience. Having what has been described as a "Type A" personality makes this whole patience with learning to bake thing quite a feat for me. But I seem to be slowly, but surely getting with the programme. I must say, though, that the making of biscotti is messy business. Either that or I'm a sloppy baker. Whichever the case, I made quite a mess on my virgin biscotti-making voyage. But in the end, it was all worth it and I am well pleased. My chocolate biscotti pair perfectly with my Masala Chai and that makes me one happy Mixed Masala.

Chocolate-Orange Biscotti & Masala Chai
Warning: If you're on a diet of some sort, watching calories, fat or carbs, these recipes are NOT for you! The biscotti are fully loaded and the chai is full-bodied and robust. As my parents and elders used to say back in the day, "This is for grown folks!" Just so you know. :o)

Okay, now let's get it goin'. Here's what I did.

Chocolate-Orange Biscotti
Source: Adapted from two recipes at Epicurious

Ingredients: (Approx. 24 large)

1 1/2 cups cashews (or your favourite toasted nuts)
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh orange zest (4 if you love orange like I do)
1 cup semisweet chocolate (chips or chopped)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Chop cashews and chocolate. Set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in cashews, chocolate and orange zest.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). In a small bowl beat together water and remaining egg to make an egg wash. Brush logs with egg wash. Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in re-sealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)

Masala Chai (Mixed Masala style)
Source: A hybrid concoction from the best recipes I've collected.

Ingredients: (Approx. six 8-oz cups)

4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 inches ginger root, crushed or finely chopped
12 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon black pepper corns
1 tablespoon fennel or anise seed
2 bay leaves (fresh)
12 whole cloves
3 cups Half & Half
6 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
8 to 10 teaspoons Darjeeling tea leaves (approx. 8 tea bags)


Heat water in saucepan. Add tea leaves/bags, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper corns, anise or fennel, bay leaves, and cloves and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add Half & Half and sugar and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, strain into teapot (or cups) and serve immediately.


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At Saturday, March 04, 2006 12:08:00 AM, Anonymous Mixed Masala said...

Am I the only one on the Web who loves Masala Chai?


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