A Southwestern twist on the traditional Italian biscotti, these crunchy little biscuits are comprised of blue cornmeal, dried blueberries and pine (piñon) nuts. Blue cornmeal has a sweet nutty taste and fine texture. The ground cornmeal comes from a variety of blue corn called the Hopi corn grown in the American southwest by the Pueblo Indians. Blue corn is one of the oldest varieties of corn and probably dates back to the Pre-Columbian era. Blue cornmeal is primarily blue gray to deep purple in color and can be used interchangeably with the more common yellow cornmeal.
Dried blueberries carry forward the blue theme and impart a chewy fruity flavor to the biscotti. Added crunch and texture comes from the another ancient food, the piñon (pine) nut. The authentic Southwestern piñon nut comes from Colorado piñon tree. Pine nuts are quick to go rancid, so buy fresh ones for this recipe.
Here are three important steps to guarantee success in baking and cutting the biscotti-
1. To keep the biscotti from crumbling after the first baking, spritz the baked dough lightly, but thoroughly with water taking care to cover the sides and the top. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. This is an important step especially if your biscotti contains nuts and fruits.
2. When cutting the biscotti for the second bake, use a serrated knife and cut with a straight up and down motion. This steps ensures that the biscotti will stand up for the second bake.
3. Instead of flipping the biscotti over to bake a third time, stand them up on the prepared baking sheet so the air can circulate around them as they bake.
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar (4 3/4 oz)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup piñon (pine nuts) (4 1/4 oz)
1 cup dried blueberries (5 oz)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet (18x 13-inch) with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder, and vanilla until creamy looking. When properly beaten, the egg/sugar mixture will be thick and lemon colored and drop in a ribbon from the beater.
Lower the mixer speed and add the flour, salt and blue cornmeal, beating gently until incorporated. Stir in dried blueberries and pine nuts. Dough will be very wet. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and shape into a rough log about 14 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide and about 3/4 inch thick. Smooth the top of the dough with a wet dough scraper.
Bake the dough for 25 minutes. With dried fruit and nuts, it may be necessary to bake an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on pan from 5-25 minutes. I let mine cool about 15 minutes. Spray with the water as in pointer step 1. Let stand 5 minutes. This will soften the crust to make slicing easier.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Wait 5 minutes, then cut the biscotti on the diagonal into 3/4 inch slices using a serrated knife and straight up and down motions. If you slice the biscotti wider at the top than the bottom, they will topple over while baking the second time.
Set the biscotti upright on the prepared baking sheet 1/2 inch apart so the air can circulate. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container to preserve their texture. If the biscotti aren’t as hard as you like, store uncovered overnight to continue drying. Biscotti can be stored at room temperature for two weeks; for longer storage, wrap airtight and freeze. Yield 14-16.