I’m pretty sure I was a Viking in my last life. Granted, I hate the cold. But I do love to explore other countries. I often braid my hair. And I think Scandinavian desserts, loaded with cardamom, saffron, and almond paste, could conquer the world.
This past weekend my friend Amy, who lives in Sweden, introduced me to another Nordic treat to love. Saffron biscotti. She brought them all the way from her home to give to our friends the Abramsons, who were hosting us for the weekend. The biscotti were bright yellow and flecked with dark chocolate. I tried one. Fragrant. Bittersweet. I ate another. Crunchy. Floral. And another. Addictive. You get the picture. Amy was a sweet guest. I was a pig.
I ended up eating the whole bag. I don’t think anyone else, including the intended recipients, even got to taste one. I couldn’t help myself. I wasn’t even drinking coffee. So with this week’s recipe I’m trying to make amends for my saffron greed.
Saffron and chocolate biscotti may not be for everyone. The combination of sugar and saffron is unexpected around these parts. After I baked up a batch, Gus tasted one, frowned, and told me that they tasted like paella cookies.
But then he kept eating them. Every time he passed the tray of cookies, he snuck one. He didn’t tell me that he had come around. But he didn’t have to say a word. I could hear him crunching from across the apartment. Norse code.
Saffron Biscotti with Chocolate
Makes about 2 dozen biscotti
1 tablespoon vodka
1/4 teaspoon finely crushed saffron threads
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten plus 1 egg white
3 ounces chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
Swedish pearl sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine the vodka and the saffron. Let that mixture stand for at least 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add 3 of the eggs to the saffron mixture and whisk to combine. With an electric mixer, beat the egg mixture into the flour mixture on medium until the dough is evenly moistened, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the chocolate. Gather the dough into a ball.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Split the dough in half and with slightly wet hands (the dough will be sticky), roll each half into a 8-inch log. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Brush the tops and sides of each log with some of the remaining egg white. Sprinkle the top of each log with the pearl sugar. Bake until golden brown and puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center of one log comes out clean, 28 to 32 minutes. The top should look dry. Transfer the sheet to a rack until cool enough to handle. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
3. Transfer the logs to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut each log into 3/4-inch slices. Transfer the slices, cut side down, to the prepared baking sheets. They won’t spread at this point so they can be close together on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are lightly browned and crisp, rotating sheet and flipping the cookies over halfway through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer sheets to racks to cool completely.