In Search of Aesthetic Pleasure: Gingerbread Biscotti


Two years ago, I made some gingerbread biscotti that looked like this.

I was so darn proud of myself.  Not only had I made a holiday treat that was just sweet enough and could be enjoyed all day, but they were beautiful, too.  A little bit of icing, and I felt like the Queen of Christmas baking.

Then, the next four or five times I made them, they looked like this:


Still delicious, sure, but decidedly unattractive.  Lumpy and crumbly, they were just too embarrassing to be shared with all but the closest of friends.  Fortunately, my son was teething around the time that I was turning out batches of gingerbread blobs, so he took care of quite a few of them.

This year, I decided that I had had enough.  I decided to do something bold.  Something that I love to do when cooking, but greatly fear when it comes to baking: I changed the recipe.  (Gasp)

The main problem seemed to be that the dough was too dry.  My first instinct was to add water, but I remembered a time from my youth when doing just that had led to miserable results, so I rethought.  I seemed to recall my mom saying that the best way to change a recipe is to increase or decrease the existing ingredients, not introduce something totally foreign (like water).  I took a deep breath and gave it a go.  I added an additional egg and just a tad more oil, plus I decreased the flour by a quarter cup.  In truth, I fully expected an epic failure, something for which I am probably developing a reputation for around here.

But no!  It worked!  Before I could forget what had caused this miracle to occur, I made sure to record the changes right on the recipe.  This was a success that I am determined to repeat.  And, lucky for you all, it’s one that I am oh-so-happy to share.

Revised Gingerbread Biscotti

1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. white sugar
4 eggs
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 T ground ginger
1 T cinnamon
1/2 T ground cloves
1/2 T ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs and molasses.  In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder and spices.  Add to egg mixture to form a stiff dough.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a roll the length of a cookie.  Place rolls on cookie sheet and lightly flatten  to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove.

Once cool enough to handle, cut rolls diagonally to form 1/2 inch slices.  Place sliced biscotti on their sides on cookie sheet.  Bake 5 minutes more on each side or until toasted and crispy.

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