Short and sweet today, like me after my morning latte — bah! If you are feeling positively sugared out but you still have days of office baked goods and well-intentioned gift bags to go, I offer up this antidote: parmesan black-pepper biscotti. Oh, it’s indulgent but in a way that is precisely 180-degrees from the half of the coconut lemon bar I did not just scarf down. (It was homemade! From scratch! I have principles, you know.) Bright and sharp, accented with mini ka-pows of black pepper, it pairs so well with red wine, eating it without may leave you with a distinct Chianti-tinged longing. Or it would if you’re a wino like me.
Please, take us both to a cocktail party, stat!
Other sugar-free, therapeutic and refreshing crumbs:
- Sick With Excess of Sweetness: In early 19th Century London, sugar became the world’s first consumer boycott. [Via Megnut]
- A woman who makes more subversive, and therefore cooler, snowflakes than I, bowls me over with a therapeutic assortment of 26 cookies. My favorite is the note on the last one.
- “Long ago I learned that if I wanted to find recipes that fit a healthy lifestyle I did not need to turn to cookbooks so designated. They are often boring. They frequently include a formula that doesn’t interest me. Sometimes they are too rigid.” Marian Burros speaks my mind.
Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2006
Makes 5 to 6 dozen biscotti.
1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cups (520 grams) all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup, 6 ounces, or 170 grams — now corrected) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.
Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.
Do ahead: Biscotti keep in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.