Jennifer McLagan's Aromatic Chinese Oxtail Stew
Paula Wolfert's Hummus

Florence Fabricant's Ginger-Pecan Biscotti


I know that this is probably the fiftieth post you've read about cookies - it's just that time of year - so I'll keep it brief, I promise. It's just that these biscotti are so good and so worth being added to your Christmas baking list that I can't help telling you about them. Being a purist, I have to start off by saying that this recipe, without butter or oil or any other shortening, is how real biscotti are made (of course, the ginger and pecans are New World additions, but the technique, people, that's what matters). But I have to also add that if you've never baked with turbinado sugar before (like me), then you're in for a revelation. So that's another reason to try this out.

Well, and then there's of course the taste, the heat of the ginger, the fragrance of the toasted pecans, the pleasing crunch of the large-grained sugar. These cookies are pretty great things, hard and snappy and with so much character, which is what I have come to appreciate during a season in which I am faced with endless amounts of soft and flaccid cookies. And as Florence Fabricant indicates, these biscotti go well with rye whiskey. So, if you're at your wit's end about buying a present for that one friend you never know what to buy for, or you have to show up somewhere bearing gifts in hand once again, then buy a nice bottle of rye, bake up a batch of these (eating the end pieces, of course, because those are the cook's treat), and expect to be thanked warmly.

That's it! I told you! Short and sweet and to the point!

Oh wait, one more thing. The part where you're supposed to pat out the dough, cover it with the nuts and ginger, then roll it up and cut it in half and form into a log and all that business? It's not the most logical way to proceed. I did it all on my Silpat, which was a lifesaver and what I'd recommend for you, otherwise you'll still be picking dough off your countertops four days later. But really, why don't you just stir the nuts and ginger into the dough after it's rested for half an hour? And then turn that dough into two logs? Try it that way - I think it might be easier.

Okay, and now I'm done. Happy Baking!

Ginger-Pecan Biscotti
Yields 30 biscotti

1¼ cup all-purpose flour, more for dusting
½ cup turbinado, Demerara or granulated brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Remove 1½ tablespoons of the egg to a small dish and reserve. Add vanilla to the rest. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, add egg-vanilla mixture and, using your hands or a large rubber spatula, work flour into eggs. It will be crumbly at first but will soon form into a soft dough. Allow to rest 10 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, flatten dough into an 8-inch square. Spread ginger and pecans on it, lightly pressing them in. Tightly roll up dough and cut it in two. Press and roll each piece into a log about 9 inches long. Place logs on baking sheet, brush with reserved egg and bake about 20 minutes, until firm to the touch and lightly browned.

3. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Use a sharp, thin knife to cut logs at an angle into ½-inch-thick slices. Stand slices an inch apart on baking sheet and return to oven 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp. Cool completely before serving.