Pistachio, Dark Chocolate and Bing Cherry Biscotti

How ironic is this? I bought some pistachios from the bulk bins at the supermarket several weeks ago. I've just been waiting for a good excuse to try a new biscotti combination. I generally use local hazelnuts or walnuts in my baking, but hey, what a beautiful contrast the bright green pistachios would be in dark cocoa cookie dough!

I had a meeting scheduled this morning, so I thought, "Now's my chance. I'll bake a batch of biscotti with pistachios, dark chocolate chips and dried bing cherries to go with everyone's morning coffee and my herbal tea." So I stayed up a bit later than usual last night, snipping cherries, mixing and baking. First thing this morning, my mom calls to ask if I saw the news. "No." "Did I hear about the pistachio recall?" Are you kidding me? One million pounds of pistachios? Today?

Well, I knew instantly that my pistachios were not tainted with Salmonella; I have been snitching them out of the bag for weeks to snack on, to the point that I thought there might not be enough left for the recipe. No signs of illness. Even if the nuts had been tainted, the heat of the oven (biscotti are baked twice) would have killed any Salmonella present, so I filled my little basket and took them to my meeting anyway.

I told everyone to eat at their own risk and that I would not be offended if they chose to abstain, but that I was confident my biscotti would not make them sick. Thus assured, they dove right in, munching and dunking and pronounced them delicious.

Here's the recipe
, but feel free to substitute any other nuts you prefer.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup dried bing cherries, snipped into pieces
1 cup roasted, salted pistachios (whole) or any other nuts (coarsely chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Double up two large baking pans and line the top pan with a piece of parchment paper. Using a heavy-duty stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla together. Blend in the eggs until well-combined. Place the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a colander and sift over the wet ingredients. Mix until there are no dry spots. Stir in the chocolate chips, cherries and nuts.

Dump the dough onto the baking sheet and, using wet hands, form into one very large flattened log or two narrower logs, depending on how big (long) you like your biscotti. The dough will spread a bit during baking.

Bake about 40 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean and the dough is set. Cool to room temperature, then proceed with recipe or cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator overnight or several hours. This makes is easier to cut the biscotti slices without them falling apart.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the biscotti log into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Lay cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes (20 to 30 if you chilled the logs) to desired crispness. Let cool completely before storing in plastic bags or an airtight container.

These make great make-ahead gifts. You can fill cellophane bags and tie with ribbon or raffia. You can also fill a cute mugs or small buckets lined with tissue paper.

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