High Country Baking: Double ginger dunkers
February 11, 2014
Editor's note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn't. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Like ginger? If so, you'll probably love this biscotti … it gives you hits of both ground and crystallized ginger in every bite. The pleasing zing is balanced by a small amount of semisweet chocolate, which provides a subtle but very nice addition to the overall taste. There's not enough fat in the dough to soften the cookie's texture, so it's crisp and crunchy, perfect for dunking into a cup of your favorite beverage.
The dough comes together quickly and requires little in the way of equipment, not even an electric mixer. There are only two things to keep in mind:
The crystallized ginger can cling to the knife blade as you're chopping it. Keeping it oiled and wiping it frequently will help prevent that from happening.
Use wet hands when handling the moist and tacky dough so it doesn't stick to your fingers.
Like most biscotti, these have a great shelf life and are actually tastier several days after baking.
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Double Ginger Dunkers
Makes 20-22 cookies
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, packed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar, preferably Baker's
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; don't grease the pan. Coat a sharp knife with cooking oil or spray it with a vegetable oil-flour spray (to keep the ginger from sticking to it) and use it to finely chop the crystallized ginger. (Don't try to do this in a food processor; the ginger sticks to the blade and makes a mess.) Coarsely chop the toasted pecans. Set both aside.
Combine the flour, sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda in a bowl and whisk vigorously to fully blend. Set aside.
Place the egg, egg white and vanilla in a larger bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and stir with a silicone or rubber spatula until most of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the crystallized ginger, pecans and mini chocolate chips and stir or knead with wet hands until they are distributed evenly in the dough. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10-15 minutes; it will be very sticky.
Divide the dough in half. Place one half at a time on the parchment-lined cookie sheet (paralleling the sheet's long side) and use wet hands to form each into a log 7 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1 1/2-to-2 inches high. Space the logs at least 4 inches apart.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until the dough is firm but not hard. Remove from the oven and leave the oven on. Let the logs cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, carefully peel them off the parchment paper and place them on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut them diagonally into half-inch-wide cookies. Stand the cookies up on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, about an inch apart, so air can circulate around both of the cut sides. Return them to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the cut sides of the cookies are dry.
Cool on a rack. Serve or store airtight. They last at least a week at room temperature and can be frozen for six weeks.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC's Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
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