Whenever I taste biscotti, I immediately have a flashback to the year in college when I worked as a café barista. I was one of the oddballs in the café world, constantly greeting people with a chirpy hello! and an exaggerated grin. My coworkers, much cooler than I, normally went for the “service without a smile” approach.
I really envied my coworkers. I wished I could just zone out and offer sub par service to complete the whole ‘café effect’… but alas, my 6 years of retail experience taught me to always be super friendly; and most likely, super annoying. It was also really hard not to be perky since I spent my down-time at work dunking almond biscotti straight into 9 shots of espresso… over and over again. I did this for the duration of my 8-hour shift, three to five days a week. Many days I would leave work, unable to count on both hands how many shots I had put down. Despicable, I know.
My boss, pleased with my energetic and positive demeanor, approvingly nicknamed me “sunshine”. Isn’t that great? Because espresso practically is liquid sunshine.
I also find it peculiar that I never developed any type of heart condition that year.
Which brings me to this recipe. I love looking at the beautiful biscotti atop the café bakery cases. Each adorned with white and/or dark chocolate swirls, fancy berries woven into the crunchy cookie, and fiercely decorated with nuts and sprinkles as though they had been “bedazzled”. But sadly for me, these types of biscotti make for some messy dippin’ and some chunky coffee once all those fixins fall in.
So, I prefer my biscotti plain and simple; yet it has to be sturdy enough to withstand a few dunks, and a lack of attention when other tasks arise. It shouldn’t absorb too much coffee, lest it become soggy after setting it down.
In years past, I needed the biscotti to perform well. Mostly so I could enjoy my espresso/cookie snack while also being on guard to promptly ring up one of the many café “regulars”:
- Like the quiet guy who ordered 5 bowls of soup, sat down and ate them all while staring straight at me, got up and ordered 5 more. Every. Single. Day.
- Or the talkative fellow who came in and ordered a drink just before heading off to use the café pay-phone for his morning call to the local AM talk radio station (for two hours!); and upon his return he’d expect me to have that drink piping hot and ready to slurp.*
- Or the tiny elegant woman who insisted I greet her with exactly 16 pumps of vanilla syrup in a regular drip coffee each morning at 9:00 am. No more, no less. Sixteen.
- Or the doctor who requested his daily hazelnut soy latte at 200 °F (which incidentally, is just at the temperature for a nice soymilk explosion).
- Or the guy who relentlessly wore ear buds and marched through our line never placing an order and only allowing a select individual to make his extra dry cappuccino. He spoke not in words, only in head nods. Eventually, I became that special someone. Once, he even tossed me a tip.
And, even after 5 years… I remember each and every one of those regular customers. Even the nice gentleman who happened to know exactly which car I drove, and where I headed after work (uh, creepy much?). Oh yes, there were many, all wonderful in their very own way. Occasionally I’ll catch a glimpse of one of them while I’m out and about. I’ll make a mad dash behind my husband, taking utmost care that I’m not seen, while whispering, “Oh, crap. It’s the cappuccino guy.” Which really takes a lot of nerve on my part… assuming that any of these people would recognize me- 5 years later, and my hair not blue.
These days, I am still a biscotti fanatic. No matter that it’s vegan and gluten free; my biscotti has to be able to hold its own. It can’t absorb too much coffee at once, but should act tirelessly to soak up that caffeine bomb anytime I need it most… over and over again.
Vanilla Bean Macadamia Biscotti – Vegan and Gluten Free
- 1/3 cup vegan margarine
- 3/4 cup vegan sugar
- 3 tsp enerG egg replacer frothed with 4 tbsp hot water
- 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 4 tbsp almond milk
- 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Preheat oven to 325 °F.
Cream together margarine and sugar. Add egg replacer, salt, vanilla bean and baking powder.
In separate bowl, combine sorghum flour, brown rice flour, potato starch and xanthan gum. Sift together and add into the rest of the ingredients. Gradually add almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until a soft dough forms. It should be just dry enough to handle and shape into two balls. Add a touch more flour or milk to create the right consistency. The dough shouldn’t crumble apart, but it also shouldn’t be too sticky. My dough was a little wet, so I just patted my hands with a little sorghum flour before shaping.
Directly on an ungreased cookie sheet, shape cookie dough into two ovals, about 2.5 inches wide and 1.25 inches tall.
Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes. Let cool and then slice cookies diagonally.
Place freshly cut cookies on their sides and bake an additional 8 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake another 8 minutes. And one more time… flip, and bake a final 8 minutes. All this baking will ensure hard and crunchy biscotti, that dissolves perfectly into a piping hot cup of coffee.
* Disclaimer- this guy was my favorite customer. Always in the best mood and always shoving handfuls of crackers into his mouth while talking to me.