I used to hate ginger. I hated how fibrous it was and how I thought it had a smell from hell. In my first job as a newscaster (god, that was AGES ago), my colleagues swore by a mean salabat drink to counteract a sore throat. I said then that I’d rather deal with a sore throat than ingest such poison.
And then I tasted Roshan’s ginger walnut biscotti. “I make it with crystallized ginger from Australia,” she tells me earnestly, trying to make me see that ginger didn’t have to be so vile. “The ginger really brings out the flavors. See?”
As they say in business, it was a hard sell — and unnecessary. That biscotti had me at the first bite. The ginger was subtle yet discernible, sweet even, against the crumbliness of the cookie. My taste buds were tantalized, singing a little duet with the crunch going on in my mouth.
Who knew ginger could be so pleasant? It was like meeting a person for the first time and being completely turned off with her seemingly snobbish persona. But once I got to know her it was like making a new friend. Again I say, who knew?
So now I heart ginger. No more is this fibrous knob relegated to when I make chicken rice. It now holds a place of honor in my baker’s kitchen, an ingredient most exalted. I honor it with this recipe, a 3-Ginger Nut Biscotti. Ginger is incarnated three times here: fresh, powdered, and uncrystallized, for a triple ginger attack. There’s also a pinch of black pepper in here to bring out the nuances of garlic in all its forms. Ginger times three? I bow to you, your ginger majesty.
3-Ginger Nut Biscotti
About 16 1-inch thick biscotti
Freely adapted from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle
1¾ cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
5 T unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 T peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped uncrystallized ginger
1 cup nuts (I used pecans
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, salt and pepper. Sift onto a piece of wax paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed, about 1 minute, or until well-blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides as necessary. Beat in the fresh ginger and vanilla extract. At low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Stir in the crystallized ginger and nuts and mix until combined.
Scrape the dough out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Moisten your hands with water and shape the dough into a 12-inch log with inch-high sides. Round the ends or taper them as best as you can.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the log is starting to brown. Remove the sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
Loosen the log from the parchment onto a chopping board. With a serrated (bread) knife, cut the log on the diagonal, making each piece about an inch thick. Arrange the slices cut side down on the same parchment-lined baking sheet, about ½-inch apart from one another. Bake for 25 minutes or until the biscotti are dry and beginning to color around the edges. Let cool 5 minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.