Gluten-Free Biscotti — Does It Really Work?

 

Gluten-free eating is having a moment right now. With awareness of celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder where ingesting gluten can damage the small intestine) and other gluten allergies and intolerances on the rise, there are more options than ever for those who want to eat gluten-free. There are also many excellent cooking blogs entirely devoted to gluten-free cooking, such as Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, Elana’s Pantry, and Celiac Chicks.

I became interested in gluten-free baking when I realized I had a few friends who either suffer from celiac disease or have a low tolerance for gluten and would therefore be unable to enjoy my biscotti. Baking gluten-free biscotti presented a real challenge: without gluten as a binding agent, the chances of the cookies breaking and crumbling increased. Despite some early failed attempts, I persisted, thanks to ample encouragement from my friends, who are always on the hunt for high-quality, good-tasting gluten-free treats. I had a handle on the flavor profiles, but the real challenge with gluten-free biscotti is the texture.

Due to the increased interest in gluten-free cooking, there are now numerous gluten-free products available for baking. King Arthur makes an excellent gluten-free multipurpose flour, which uses both white and brown rice as well as tapioca and potato starches. It has a nice texture and a neutral taste. Bob’s Red Mill also sells a gluten-free all-purpose flour, which is made from garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. The beans and sorghum have a noticeable flavor, but I’ve found that the two brands work equally well.

To compensate for the loss of gluten, you’ll need to add guar gum or xanthan gum to stabilize the dough. In my experience, without these gums, the log of biscotti too easily crumbles into pieces. I’ve found that using an equal mixture of the two works best: too much guar can produce a stringy dough, while too much xanthan gum may create an unappealing gumminess. One-half teaspoon, total, per cup of flour is sufficient.

If you want to forgo buying the gums separately, Bob’s Red Mill sells a gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour that contains sweet white-rice flour, whole-grain brown-rice flour, potato starch, whole-grain sweet white-sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum.

After some initial trial and error, I’ve now honed my techniques for delicious gluten-free biscotti. For these recipes, I use fewer fillings since too many separate chunks may prevent the dough from staying connected. Of course, there is no guarantee, even with regular biscotti, that a biscotto or two won’t break, but the likelihood of this happening increases with gluten-free versions. The real key—a shout-out to Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl for passing this along—is to let the baked biscotti sit until it has cooled completely before cutting. Shauna recommends letting it sit overnight, but if you’re less patient (as I am), two hours is sufficient. Giving your gluten-free biscotti the extra time to cool help ensure that they’ll hold together as well as those made with wheat flour.

 

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Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Biscotti
Yield: 2 dozen

 

Glaze

1 large egg

Biscotti

2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup salted peanuts
3 1/2 – 4  ounces dark chocolate (85% cocoa) or milk chocolate, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour, plus more for dusting
1  teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum

Setup

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Beat one egg until frothy and set aside with a pastry brush.
Line a 17 x 10 by 1-inch  baking sheet with parchment paper.

 Method

Beat the eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and salt in an electric mixer, fitted with the beater attachment, on high until thickened, about two minutes. Mix in the peanuts, chocolate and peanut butter. Add the flour, baking powder xanthin gum and guar gum. and beat on low, scraping the sides as needed, until the flour is moist. Scrape sides and beater once more and mix on medium high until the dough is smooth, about ten seconds.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form a thick log. Roll the log back and forth, adding bit of dusting flour as needed, until the log is 18-inches long by 2-inches wide. Cut it in half, place on the prepared sheet tray and gently press the log to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Brush each log with the egg wash, place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let sit for at least two hours or overnight.

Cut the log on an angle into 1/2-inch slices and lay flat on the sheet tray and bake for 18 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

To refresh softened biscotti, preheat the oven to 325ºF and bake for 10 minutes. Cool and store as instructed above.

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Biscotti
 
Ingredients
  • Glaze:
  • 1 large egg
  • Biscotti:
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup salted peanuts
  • 3½ - 4 ounces dark chocolate (85% cocoa) or milk chocolate, cut into small chunks
  • ½ cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 2¼ cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon guar gum
Method
  1. Setup:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  3. Beat one egg until frothy and set aside with a pastry brush.
  4. Line a 17 x 10 by 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Method:
  6. Beat the eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and salt in an electric mixer, fitted with the beater attachment, on high until thickened, about two minutes. Mix in the peanuts, chocolate and peanut butter. Add the flour, baking powder xanthin gum and guar gum. and beat on low, scraping the sides as needed, until the flour is moist. Scrape sides and beater once more and mix on medium high until the dough is smooth, about ten seconds.
  7. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form a thick log. Roll the log back and forth, adding bit of dusting flour as needed, until the log is 18-inches long by 2-inches wide. Cut it in half, place on the prepared sheet tray and gently press the log to about a ½-inch thickness. Brush each log with the egg wash, place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let sit for at least two hours or overnight.
  8. Cut the log on an angle into ½-inch slices and lay flat on the sheet tray and bake for 18 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.
  9. To refresh softened biscotti, preheat the oven to 325ºF and bake for 10 minutes. Cool and store as instructed above.

 

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