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It’s exam time which means it is snack time and I desperately needed a break from studying and a snack. Making these delicious biscotti was the perfect solution – not healthy, but very satisfying. A warning, you have to love pepper or you will find the pepper too dominant in these delights.

Black Pepper & Cheese Biscotti - A Pat & A Pinch

This recipe is adapted from the Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti recipe found on the blog Smitten Kitchen which in turn was adapted from Gourmet, December 2006. Being somewhat lactose intolerant, I prefer to make it with a Pecorino Romano which I find easier to tolerate. This time I made it with a lactose free Bella Lodi that I found at the Chop Shop at the Root Cellar here in Victoria. The recipe yields 5 to 6 dozen biscotti but I often cut the recipe in half.

Black Pepper and Cheese Biscotti

1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 oz hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 large eggs

1 cup milk

Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Pulse peppercorns in grinder or grind in a mortar until coarsely ground.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). I find that this is most easily accomplished by forming the dough into a 12-inch sausage with my hands and then flattening the sausage to a rectangle on the floured counter or board. Transfer the logs to 2 parchment-lined or ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart. Being a fan of easy cleanup I prefer to use parchment.

Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange the slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool the biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

Black Pepper & Cheese Biscotti - A Pat & A Pinch

These would be perfect with a glass (or two) of red wine and are a simple solution to those events where you are asked to bring an appetizer. As my son moves into grade school, I anticipate that this will be a go-to recipe for bake-sales aimed at adults. For now, they are the perfect escape from studying.

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