A few weeks ago I bought a couple bags of pistachios while they were on sale. While I’m a fan of the salted variety for out of hand eating, I accidentally grabbed an unsalted bag as well. After I’d devoured the salted bag and was searching through my cupboards for a late-night snack, I decided that the unsalted kind had to be better than nothing at all.
While munching I noticed some particularly strong notes of vanilla. I had a few dozen batches of cookies to bake for people on the horizon, so I started thinking of ways to incorporate the unsalted green nuts into some sort of cookie – like vanilla pistachio biscotti.
I’d never made biscotti before, but had been meaning to for quite some time – perfect opportunity. Plus, since I was baking for other people I could experiment to my heart’s content and get the waistline-burgeoning results out of my house (not something I can say for the batch of cinnamon rolls I baked last night and am currently devouring).
Every recipe I came across also incorporated cranberries or chocolate, but I wasn’t interested in distracting from the nutty vanilla flavor I wanted. I eventually settled on altering one of Tyler Florence’s recipes and I think it turned out pretty well.
I wanted to amp up the vanilla flavor as much as possible, so I also used vanilla sugar. Vanilla sugar is one of my favorite baking secrets for sneaking some extra flavor into goodies without too much effort. Many recipes call for scraping the seeds out of a vanilla pod, but there’s still so much flavor left in there – it’d be a shame to discard it, especially considering how expensive they are. Instead, fill up a jar with sugar and stick the “spent” pods in there. Over time it will perfume the sugar with a lovely, subtle vanilla flavor. I just use an old spaghetti sauce jar (that’s been thoroughly cleaned, of course) and refill it with sugar every time I use some.
If you don’t have vanilla sugar then just use regular, I can guarantee the biscotti will still be delicious.
Double Vanilla Pistachio Biscotti
1 ½ cups roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped coarsely
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 cups cake flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Beat the butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds and cream. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt, then add to the creamed mixture all at once. Add in the pistachios.
Divide the dough in half and shape into two logs, 12 inches long by inch thick. Place the logs on a parchment or Sil-Pat lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Let the logs cool for ten minutes and then slice, 1 inch thick on the diagonal. Put the cookies back into the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the cookies over and back for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.