Sunday, December 9, 2012

Walnut-Orange Biscotti

So last week, my yoga teacher told me that she’s now completely vegan. That takes courage! Not that I eat meat all the time or anything, in fact, I hardly cook with meat because buying good meat is expensive and handling meat is one of my least favorite cooking tasks. At the most, we make something with meat twice a week for DFJ’s sanity. And, at the risk of sharing too much information, once a month my body tells me that I need it. Perhaps, meat is something I can live without, but not eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, and butter!

I have never baked anything vegan and honestly, never thought it would be possible to do so without butter or eggs. Mark Bittman’s Walnut Biscotti proved me wrong. When I chose this recipe weeks ago, it never dawned on me after reading the ingredient list that there’s no dairy in it. After looking at the ingredients again this weekend, I was thrilled to find out that it is vegan! Yay! This is something I can share with my yoga teacher… thank goodness she’s still good with gluten and sugar.

Since I am hosting The Food Matters Project this week, my initial intention was to stick to the original recipe and follow it to the tee. Heck, I even broke down and bought all-purpose flour which I once vowed to never use again! However, I accidentally tweaked it when I ground up all the walnuts instead of just half and forgot to add another 1/3 cup of sugar. There was also an orange in the refrigerator begging to be used. So, I took it and rubbed the zest into the sugar and squeezed the fresh juice to substitute part of the water that went into the batter. I’m a big sucker for baked goods with orange zest.

The biscotti turned out great, despite the fact that I only added half the required amount of sugar! Although they are only slightly sweet, you won’t miss the sugar once the lovely orange notes hit you.
The rich and nutty flavor adds to their character too! My favorite part is the texture, they are not at all dry and there is even some chewiness along with the crunch.

Biscotti are wonderful with coffee, tea, and ice cream.

Walnut-Orange Biscotti (Makes 36-40 biscotti)
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Walnut Biscotti, The Food Matters Cookbook

1 1/3 cups walnut halves
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting the pan
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/3 cup brown sugar (original recipe requires 2/3 cup)
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
¼ cup honey
vegetable oil for greasing pans

Using a high speed blender or a food processor, grind the walnuts finely until they resemble flour. Move the finely ground walnuts into a large mixing bowl and add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a small bowl, massage the orange zest into the sugar using your fingertips. Add the zest-sugar mixture into the big bowl. Whisk all the dry ingredients together and make sure everything is well-mixed.

Squeeze the orange juice into a liquid measuring cup. Remove the seeds. Add water to make a total of ¾ cup. Pour honey into the cup and mix until all the liquid is well-combined.Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix just until incorporated.

Move a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

While the oven is heating up, prepare 2 baking sheets. Lightly grease the baking sheets with the vegetable oil and dust them all over with flour. Tap the bottom of the pans while tilting them from side to side to spread the flour. Remove the excess flour by inverting the pans.

Oil your hands before handling the dough if your dough ends up sticky, like mine was. Divide the dough into half and form each into 2-inch-wide logs. Handling sticky dough can be tricky, so just get a little bit at a time and plop them together lengthwise on the baking sheets so they connect and form a long, 2-inch-wide, flat log.

Bake for 30 minutes until the loaves are golden on top. Remove from the oven and place the baking sheets on wire racks. Let the loaves cool on the baking sheets. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F.

When the loaves are cool enough to touch, gently move them onto a cutting board. Take care not to break them in the process. Use a bread knife to cut ½ inch thick slices and move the slices back to the baking sheets. Return to the oven and let them dry out for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through this second baking time. Once they are done, remove the biscotti from the oven and let cool completely on wire racks.

Store biscotti in airtight containers.

* If you want to add something special, melt a cup of chocolate chips using the double boiler method and spread melted chocolate on the top half of each biscotti. (This will make it non-vegan though, especially if you use milk chocolate.) I’m taking most of the biscotti to my book club Christmas party tonight so some chocolate dipping was necessary to make it more festive! The chocolate beautifully accentuated the orange flavor in my biscotti. * 

Do check out what the other awesome FMP members did with their biscotti.
You are in for some surprises!


  1. I was hoping someone would think to put chocolate on them... ;)

  2. Love your choice this week! I didn't know biscotti was so easy. My husband tried my biscotti tonight and he loved it. He thought I bought biscotti and doctored it you can buy savory biscotti :) :) :)

  3. i really wish i had attempted this recipe (i failed once, it was hard and i haven't tried it again...), i loved it for the non-dairy aspect of it. i loved the innovation you used by adding orange zest and they turned out beautifully. thanks for hosting this week.

  4. GAH I am SO behind on my FMP posting! These biscotti are so seasonably perfect...and definitely crazy (and awesome) that they're vegan!

  5. I'm always wondering how people manage with a vegan lifestyle. Someone once asked me whether I would rather live in a world without movies or a world without cheese, I instantly replied the world without movies. I can't get enough of cheese.
    But I love your addition of orange. Like you, I love putting zest of any kind in my baking, especially with my new microplane :)

  6. Now that I have seen you guys all make awesome vegan biscotti I think I've worked up the courage to try it, haha! Thanks for the pick... and it's funny, I never thought I could live in a world without cheese, butter, and milk, but since I've gone dairy-free I've felt so much better! To each their own I guess... and I do miss them sometimes, of course ;)


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