Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gluten Free Wednesday: Gluten Free Cherry Almond Biscotti

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!

I have honestly never really been that into biscotti before.  Not until my brief stint working as a vegan baker at 'Snice Brooklyn.  They have several creative baked goods that I really enjoyed making, although not eating.  The thing I didn't like about the baked goods there is that they were very refined.  They used a ton of Earth Balance, which I appreciate as much as the next person, but do not use it in all of my vegan baking applications.  I tend to use it in only certain things and would never use it in muffins or cakes, unlike 'Snice.  But I really did appreciate their creativity and presentation of the baked goods.  I love how they serve their cookies behind the counter in cookie jars - I think it is adorable and I am hideously obsessed with their sandwiches.  They are really too expensive for my tastes at the moment, unfortunately.  One of the good things about working there though was that I was given a bagel and coffee for breakfast and a complimentary sandwich when I left each day.  That was very cool, since I was able to sample a lot of the sandwiches free.  I have tried to replicate several of them at home, to the approval of my Hubby.  When I was working there, I would save him half of the sandwich, which he absolutely enjoyed.

Back to biscotti, shall we?  The first time I actually ever made biscotti was at 'Snice.  And it was another one of those things calling for mixing Earth Balance and white sugar together, then adding several other ingredients to the mixer to create the dough.  I do have a stand mixer, which is a little uncommon for NYC, simply because we tend not to have a lot of counter space.  Most of the time my mixer is in storage and I only get it out occasionally, so I did not want to make something with the mixer unless it is absolutely necessary.  I also thought their biscotti was far too sweet, but a good starting point.  So, I searched and searched for a gluten free recipe for biscotti, because I figured why not make something that I have never made before a little more complicated by trying to make it gluten free.  I came across several, but not a vegan gluten free biscotti recipe.  So I took several points from several of the recipes and combined them. 

The first time I made the recipe I was convinced it wouldn't work.  I was very surprised when it almost worked.  So I set about making several changes, trying it again, with the result being even better but not exactly what I was looking for.  It really improved the third time around.  Sometimes I think about how many times I test each recipe, and think about how many resources it takes to prepare them: time, money, supplies, disappointment when it doesn't work out ...  But I hate the fact that even after Hubby and I sample it, we have to throw it away.  If it is edible and enjoyable, I give it to him to take to work and give to his coworkers who are very honest in their opinions.  But a lot of the time when I make the first or second batches, they don't turn out and I wouldn't want to give them to someone.  Yuck.  I would love to compost them, like my parents in Michigan do.  They have an amazing organic garden and have composted my whole life.  I'm sure there are locations here in NY I can bring my compost to, but do I really want to keep a container of smelly compost in my apartment, and lug it on the train or bus somewhere.  Sigh.  Until a garden opens up down the block.  Shall we get onto the biscotti???

Gluten Free Cherry Almond Biscotti:

Perfectly Crisp & Delicious, Studded with Bits of Almonds
& Dried Cherries

Yields 8 Pieces, plus the ends

¾ cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup whole almonds
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons arrowroot
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup organic dehydrated cane juice
¼ cup flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside until ready to use.
2. Place the almonds and the sorghum flour in a food processor and process until it is fine textured and no bits of almonds can be felt. Place in a medium mixing bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients: the tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, sea salt, sliced almonds and dried cherries.
3. In a separate bowl, add the sugar, flax eggs, canola oil, vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk together until completely emulsified and thickened.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together with hands until a very firm dough forms - this cannot be mixed with a spoon or spatula. Press into a rectangle and bake for about 30 minutes, or until firm in the very center and the edges are golden brown.
5. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
6. Place baked biscotti onto a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, slice off the very ends. Slice the remaining dough into 8 slices, about ¾” each. Lay the biscotti on their sides and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until firm and crispy. They will continue to firm up as they cool.
7. Allow to cool completely before serving.



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