There are a certain set of foods that I like to think of as ‘Blank Canvas’ recipes. They’re perfectly able to stand alone, delicious just the way they are. However, they’re versatile and ‘blank’ enough to be able to ‘color; (and thereby enhance) them with all kinds of different flavor profiles. A good Blank Canvas recipe should have minimal base ingredients and be pretty hard to mess up.
Biscuits are a perfect example of a Blank Canvas. They’re great on their own, but they’re also extremely versatile to the point that they’re able to be either sweet or savory. Pound cake is another great Blank Canvas. Once you have a good base recipe for a pound cake, you can add just about anything you want to it; extracts, zest, chocolate, fruit, booze, vegetables–the possibilities are endless.
I’ve shared Blank Canvas recipes many times before on the blog, both in their original form and when I’ve added the variety of flavors to enhance them. Search the Recipe Index and you’ll find many variations of biscuits, pound cake, and scones. I checked myself just now and saw that there are also currently three different kinds of biscotti to choose from. Guess what? After today, there’ll be four.
Biscotti are THE cookies for us coffee and tea drinkers. They’re minimally sweet, extra crunchy, and perfect for dunking in a cup of hot caffeine. The base recipe is also basic and versatile enough to be able to be given just about any flavor you could possibly think of, and that includes sweet AND savory.
I’ve made biscotti about four times before and I’ve tried to do something different with it each time. Today’s recipe is the latest rendition on the Blank Biscotti Canvas. Ginger is a spice that I try to throw in most of everything that I cook in general. Since it lends itself so well to sweet and savory, it was easy to incorporate here. The dough is flavored with both dried and crystallized ginger, giving it an extra boost of sweet and subtle heat. I added an iced drizzle to top off my biscotti, but it’s not necessary if you prefer to just eat them plain. They’re certainly delicious enough to do so.
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark), packed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- a few tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl combine the eggs and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter, sugar, spices, salt, and baking powder until mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add the egg mixture; it may look lightly curdled.
Add the flour in about 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined. Mix in the crystallized ginger.
Scrape dough out of the bowl and onto the parchment paper. Shape it into a log about 14″ long. It will be about 2 1/2″ wide and 3/4″ thick. Use either a spatula you’ve sprayed with cooking spray or your fingers that you’ve wet with water to smooth out the top of the log.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan about 30 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dip your fingers into water and smooth out the top of the log again.
Wait another five minutes, then use a serrated knife to press down firmly and cut the log into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices. Cut at a 45° angle, for long biscotti; cut crosswise slices, for shorter biscotti. As you’re slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll topple over during their second bake.
Set the biscotti on edge on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. They should feel very dry, but they may still feel a little moist in the center; that’s ok. They’ll continue to dry out as they cool.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled, combine all the glaze ingredients until you have a thick-ish glaze and use a fork to drizzle over the sides of the biscotti. Allow to set for about 15 minutes until glaze is hardened.
For extra crunchy biscotti, leave them uncovered overnight to keep drying out.