Apparently I’m on a pumpkin spree.
Allow me to grin sheepishly and assure you that pumpkin puree season is almost over, a fact that makes me feel both sad and just a little relieved. For Chris, at least. His pumpkin fatiguée has never run so high. (Although one serving of pumpkin pie should cure him of that.)
And admittedly, even my tolerance is beginning to wane. I tend towards the obsessive in many aspects of my life, and pumpkin is one of these things. As well as listening to the same song/album on repeat, wearing the same shirt for weeks on end, wanting to eat at the same restaurant every time I go out, etc. etc. The inevitable result of such overload is almost criminally tragic: after such sensory gluttony, said objects/activities become warped, twisted. I can never view them the same way again.
That early magic is so transcendent, yet transient. Like the first time I heard the song “Weird Fishes by Radiohead.” God, I was moved. It haunted me. I still love it—and the entire album for that matter—but how I wish I could hear it again for the first time. (You can.)
So seasonality may not be such a bad thing after all. I mean, I wouldn’t mind having access to perfectly ripe peaches the entire year round. But I’d be losing the experience of the anticipation, and the unadulterated captivation of the first bite. Which means more to me than you can know.
With all that being said, it’s almost time to retire pumpkin. Almost. After all, there’s still pumpkin pie to be had.
Traditional Italian biscotti is not the buttery, cake-y creations we have today. They’re supposed to be biscuits after all, and biscuits do not connote dessert. It was made exclusively with flour, sugar, eggs, almonds (not roasted or skinned), and pine nuts. And meant to last a long time. Centuries, if stored carefully, according to Pliny the Elder.
Purists would call the recipe below a bastardization then. At the same time, I didn’t want to make anything too extravagant, too rich, too filling. I didn’t want to dip my biscuits in chocolate, or adorn them knee-deep with toppings, or have them leave behind butter stains on my finger. Rather, I was craving a sensible, no-nonsense, pumpkin-flavored treat to eat alongside my mid-morning coffee.
And that’s how these biscotti came out.
Of course, my few modest additions helped ever so much with the flavor, if I do say so myself. Dried cranberries to make it feel more festive, slivered almonds because they were one of the original ingredients, cinnamon, ground ginger, and cardamom because why the hell not. I dusted the top with black sesame seeds, bird food really, and into the oven my fat little loaf went.
Because that’s how you make biscotti. You bake it twice.
PUMPKIN BISCOTTI WITH CRANBERRIES AND ALMONDS
Adapted from The New Best Recipe
Makes about 50
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
black sesame seeds for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, sugar, and eggs together until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, almonds, and cranberries. Pour the dry ingredients over the egg mixture and fold until just combined.
Halve the dough and turn each half onto the prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, stretch each half into a long loaf about 12 inches. Shape and pat each one smooth. Sprinkle liberally with black sesame seeds.
Bake until the loaves begin to crackle on top, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Transfer the loaves onto a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into thin slices, about 1/2-inch. Lay the slices back on the baking sheet and return them to oven. Bake until crisp and golden-brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Halfway through baking, turn the cookies over and rotate the baking sheet.
Remove from oven, and let cool. Store in an airtight container.