I was totally blown away when I made biscotti with our white cake mix last week. It was a crazy thought in the first place, but as I sliced my daughter a piece of cake, it looked like biscotti to me. How could that be? It was crazy talk. But sometimes the best ideas come from those crazy thoughts.
I should probably back up a little bit here too. Biscotti has always been one of my specialties. 25 years ago, fresh out of culinary school when we first opened our bakery, biscotti was my thing. I made it in every flavor combination you can imagine, although chocolate chip almond was always my favorite. We sold an ton of it, and for good reason. It was delicious! Of course back then I also used lots of eggs and plenty of wheat flour.
Then, fast forward a few years later, and my first magazine article was on…biscotti! Yes, that’s right, and I couldn’t have picked a better article to write. It was for Cooking Light Magazine too. I can still remember how excited I was. I had so much fun with it, they let me develop extra biscotti recipes for the article. There may have been close to 12.
As you can see, biscotti and I have a very special connection. So it was strange to take a long hiatus from them, once I was both vegan and gluten-free. I knew that it was possible, I just wondered how close they would be to the biscotti that I knew and loved. Little did I know what a big surprise I was in for, after my biscotti-epiphany! Plus, if you’ve made biscotti before, you will notice that this batter is totally different. That’s because it’s cake-biscotti! But however crazy it sounds (and may make your Italian grandmother grimace at the notion), it will bake up like real biscotti.
I made the biscotti both plain (with almond extract) and with chocolate chips and almonds. Both worked great. You can experiment with the flavors and add ins. I will come up with some more biscotti recipes soon. Also, as you’ll see below, the extract flavor cooks out some, so you will want to use double what you normally would.
So here’s the 911 on what I did, before I share the recipe:
1. I made the batter as per the instructions on the back of the box, except I reduced the oil to 2 tablespoons, and increased the non-dairy milk by 2 tablespoons (so 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk). I also added 2 1/2 teaspoons of pure almond extract, because the flavor cooks out a bit from the double baking. My husband thought 1 tablespoon would be great too. I also stirred in 3/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup almonds (that had been lightly toasted and coarsely chopped in a mini food processor).
2. I baked the batter just as I would a cake. I used a Pyrex glass 11 x 7-inch pan, but metal would be fine too. I think that the size/shape is really key here.
3. I baked the cake for 55 to 60 minutes, just as I normally do. Let it cool before removing from the pan. You’ll want to set it on a large cutting board to slice.
4. Cutting: You can experiment how thin you want them, but I found it easiest to cut them about 1/2 inch. I also found that it was easiest to cut the cake in half length-wise and then slice each half into 1/2 inch biscotti slices.
5. Second baking: I carefully placed each biscotti on their side and lined them up on a parchment-lined heavy baking sheet. It took 2 baking sheets for all of the slices. Then, and the time may vary depending on your oven, I baked them for 15 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. I removed the baking sheets from the oven and carefully flipped all of the biscotti over. I then put them back in the hot oven to bake them another 15 minutes. I then let them all cool on the baking sheets. Once they are totally cool, they should be nice and crisp. If not, you can bake them for another few minutes in the oven.
6. Storage: I tried a couple of different things, and I found the best way to store them is in the freezer in a ziplock freezer bag. Closing them up in an airtight container and leaving them out didn’t work. For some reason gluten-free baked goods seem to rehydrate themselves this way, so they were too moist and soft. I also tried leaving them out uncovered, but they also became soft that way too. I think they just picked up moisture in the air. So I vote for freezing them, which is also great because then you have biscotti in your freezer whenever the mood strikes.
- 3 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk (or 1 1/2 cups water + 1 1/2 cups plain soymilk)
- 1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 8 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 3 tablespoons oat flour (if using Instant Clearjel, omit)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (if using Instant Clearjel, omit)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- Sriracha sauce, optional
- In the jar of a blender, combine the soymilk, cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, oat flour, cornstarch, salt, paprika, and granulated onion. Blend the mixture at high speed until completely smooth and no bits of nuts remain. If you don’t have a big blender, blend the mixture in two batches.
- Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook, whisking continuously until thick, about 5 to 10 minutes, until there is no starchy flavor.
- Tip: If you don’t have a strong blender, make sure to soak your cashews for two hours before using. Alternately, you can simmer them for 5 minutes. Drain them before using. If you want your sauce a little richer, increase the cashews to 1/2 cup.
- Gluten-Free: To make this sauce gluten-free, make sure to use a gluten-free oat flour.
- Recipe adapted with permission from Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson, 2014, Running Press