VEGETARIAN JOURNAL



Vegetarian Journal 2005 Issue 2

Vegan Biscotti

            by Debra Daniels-Zeller

The first biscotti was most likely baked in Tuscany in the 13th century, according to Linda Stradley in I’ll Have What They’re Having—Legendary Local Cuisine. A traditionally crisp cookie, biscotti means “twice-baked” in Italian. As the cookie bakes, moisture evaporates and the biscotti becomes more like a cracker. Early biscotti was more savory or bland-tasting than versions today, and the texture was dry and hard (like hardtack). The hard biscuits were resistent to mold and could be stored for months, making them a good food for sailors.

It was love at first bite after sampling my first biscotti. I used my mother’s recipe and began trying variations. A few years ago, I took a biscotti class to get some new ideas and was surprised when the instructor couldn’t think of any substitutions for eggs and butter to make vegan biscotti. I went home and tried different egg replacers, sweeteners, flours, and fats. Some biscotti versions were successful; others literally went to the dogs. One version, a fat-free, rock-hard biscotti, was actually dubbed “doggie biscotti” by a friend. Lucky for me, I have dogs.

Interchanging egg replacers, fats, sweeteners, and flours in recipes can result in wildly different textures and tastes, but the basic idea with the creations was to dry out the biscotti without making it too hard. The following descriptions should give you an idea of how various options change the results in biscotti.

EGG REPLACER OPTIONS

Like other cookies, biscotti needs only a slight lift, but eggs also add to the binding quality and overall texture. I could live without the added fat and cholesterol, and the following are alternatives you can use:

FAT AND OIL

My original biscotti recipe listed 1 cup of oil, 3 eggs, and 1 cup of nuts in the ingredients. This adds up to more fat and cholesterol than I want in a biscotti. Cutting the oil to 1/2 or 1/3 cup still generates a workable texture, but dropping the fat content more or leaving it out altogether results in brick-hard biscotti. You can use about 1/4 cup fat or oil if you use flax seed egg replacer to equal four eggs. Due to lower fat content, the biscotti will still be harder than deli biscotti. Substituting alternatives for fat, such as applesauce, pumpkin, or puréed dates, produces biscotti that takes a long time to dry out. The texture becomes slightly chewy, not the crisp crumb associated with the cookies. The following fats worked well for vegan biscotti:

FLOUR ALTERNATIVES

For baked goods, wheat flour is the number one choice because it contains gluten, a unique protein that is activated by mixing or kneading. Gluten produces the texture we recognize when we eat a biscotti.

SWEETENERS

Granulated or liquid, thick or thin, sweeteners contribute to the overall texture of the cookie as well as adding taste. My original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar. I changed 1 cup of oil to 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup maple syrup. Less sweet than sugar, I also added 1/2 cup vegan sugar to replace the rest of the sugar and then tried cutting back from there. In some natural foods stores, you can also find granulated maple syrup to use. Date sugar can be used, but it is quite costly and not very sweet. Using agave nectar (made from the agave cactus and sold in natural foods stores) instead of maple syrup produces slightly sweeter results. Molasses makes biscotti that doesn’t dry out quite as nicely. Cut down on the sweetener or leave it out if you prefer a less sweet cookie. However, you should add more spices or flavoring, or the taste will be flat. Leave the sweetener out completely if you’re making a savory biscotti that you can eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

OTHER OPTIONS

Carob or cocoa powder, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or grated coconut are all good additions to biscotti variations. On the liquid side, you can use frozen fruit concentrate or reduced fruit juices (Reduce the fruit juice by simmering on low to create a more concentrated sweet flavor.), amazake (a fermented sweet rice beverage available in natural foods stores), almond or coconut milk, or a vegetable stock to make savory biscotti.

Essential Biscotti Tips

  • Add enough flour to make a very stiff dough.

  • Roll dough into logs the length of a baking sheet-about 14 inches.

  • Bake biscotti the the first time ahead. You can freeze the logs, then thaw and bake biscotti up to a month after freezing. I often bake the logs a day ahead. Then, I slice them and bake them the second time later.

  • Use parchment paper when you bake. Carefully remove the entire sheet to a cooling rack. Slide from the baking sheet so you don't break the logs when you transfer them to a cooling rack.

  • Let logs cool before slicing. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice. Determine how large you want the biscotti by the slant of your knife.

  • Use a pizza screen for the second baking to get an even toasting on all sides.

  • Store in a closed glass jar or, for long-term storage, in the freezer.

Recipe Index


Coconut-Apricot Biscotti

(Makes about 44 biscotti)

Puréed apricots with coconut milk work well in this recipe. The texture of this cookie is fairly crisp. Since this recipe is made with barley flour, there is less gluten in the dough to hold it together. This makes the biscotti slightly more crumbly than versions made with wheat flour.

3/4 cup lite coconut milk
10 dried whole apricots
3-1/2 cups barley flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup grated coconut (optional)
1/4 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup vegan nonhydrogenated shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or flavoring

Pour coconut milk over apricots in a small bowl. Let sit for half an hour or until apricots are rehydrated. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Mix in coconut, if desired.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a blender or a hand blender, purée the tofu until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Purée in the apricot-coconut milk. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Form into two logs and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the tops of the logs slightly. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Slice biscotti logs carefully on the slant into 1/2-inch slices. Lay flat on a pizza screen or baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Total calories per serving: 54 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 26 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Vanilla Bean Biscotti

(Makes about 40 biscotti)

Coconut oil makes this biscotti more crisp, but you can substitute oil or vegan nonhydrogenated margarine if you like. Amazake is a fermented rice beverage that adds a subtle sweetness to this recipe. Amazake and whole vanilla beans can be found in natural foods stores.

1 cup amazake (original or flavored, such as pecan pie)
1 whole vanilla bean
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour or 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Flax seed egg replacer for 3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil

Pour amazake into a small saucepan. Slit vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise and add to the amazake. Simmer on low for 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced to approximately 3/4 cup. Let cool. Scrape the inside of vanilla bean into amazake and discard shell.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder, mixing well. Set aside. Beat egg replacer and coconut oil together in a blender or with a hand blender. Blend in amazake.

Combine wet and dry ingredients until a stiff dough forms. Add more amazake, if necessary. Divide the dough into two sections. Roll each section out to a log approximately 14 inches long. Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the top slightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a cooling rack for at least half an hour.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut 1/2-inch biscotti slices on the slant. Lay flat on a pizza screen or baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Total calories per serving: 72 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 17 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Savory Sage-Infused Porcini Biscotti

(Makes approximately 60 biscotti)

These are fun to serve with spreads, with soup, or as appetizers. Break them up and use them as biscotti croutons to garnish a soup or salad. Date sugar, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, and porcini mushrooms are available in natural foods stores. You can substitute another granulated sweetener for date sugar, if you want.

1 teaspoon sage
1/4 cup dry porcini mushrooms
Approximately 1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 cups barley flour
1 cup unbleached flour or 7/8 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup date sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Flax seed egg replacer for 3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut or canola oil

Place sage and porcini mushrooms in a glass measuring cup. Add boiling water to make 3/4 cup. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Let mixture sit for about half an hour or until mushrooms are soft.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, date sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Blend well.

Mix egg replacer, oil, and softened mushrooms in water together in a blender or with a hand blender. Combine wet and dry ingredients until a stiff dough forms. Divide dough into three sections. On a floured counter, roll each section into a log. Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slightly flatten the top of each log. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let logs cool for at least half an hour before slicing.

Set oven temperature to 325 degrees. Slice biscotti logs on the slant into 1/2-inch slices. Lay biscotti flat on a pizza screen or a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. If you want very crisp biscotti, turn off the oven and leave cookies inside for an additional 30 minutes.

Total calories per serving: 33 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 5 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 30 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Apple-Almond Buckwheat Biscotti

(Makes approximately 76 biscotti)

This lightly sweetened, gluten-free biscotti has a slightly crisper texture than wheat-based biscotti. Do not overbake. Buckwheat flour, arrowroot, almond milk, and nonhydrogenated vegan shortening are available at natural foods stores. Chocolate Frosting is good on these cookies.

3 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Flax seed egg replacer for 4 eggs
2/3 cup thawed, frozen apple juice concentrate
1/3 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, arrowroot or tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, making sure all small lumps are blended. Beat egg replacer with remaining ingredients. A hand blender works well for this. Stir wet and dry ingredients together.

Form dough into three logs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool for at least one half hour.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Slice on the slant into 1/2-inch slices. Lay flat on a pizza screen or baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and frost, if desired.

Total calories per serving: 35 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 5 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 34 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Biscotti

(Makes approximately 56 biscotti)

These biscotti have a cheesy-tomato flavor. You can mix in 1/4 cup toasted crushed pine nuts instead of vegan cheese. These cookies make good appetizers and go well with soup or salad. I like them spread with hummus or an eggplant dip.

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup almond milk
1 cup oat flour
1 cup barley flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Flax seed egg replacer for 4 eggs
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)

Combine tomatoes and almond milk. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, basil, baking soda, and salt. Use a blender or hand blender to purée softened tomatoes and milk together with egg replacer. Mix in shortening.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Blend in vegan cheese, if desired. Form into three logs and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for at least half an hour.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Slice on the slant into 1/2-inch slices. Place on a pizza screen or baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Total calories per serving: 42 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 5 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 40 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Lemon Biscotti

(Makes approximately 37 biscotti)

One of my favorite recipes, this biscotti has a mild sweetness and a light lemon flavor, just the perfect cookie for tea or an afternoon snack. This basic recipe uses unbleached flour for a lighter cookie. You can use 2-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour to replace the unbleached flour if you prefer using a whole grain flour.

3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
Flax seed egg replacer for 3 eggs
1/4 cup agave nectar (available in natural foods stores)
2 Tablespoons Malibu rum (optional)
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, and lemon zest. Blend well.

With a hand blender, mix lemon juice, oil, egg replacer, agave nectar, rum, and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients in. Mix until a stiff dough forms. Try not to overmix the dough.

Form into two logs. Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten the logs’ tops. Bake for 30 minutes. Logs should give a little, like a cake, when they are done. Remove from oven and let cool for at least half an hour.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut the logs in slices on the slant, about 1/2-inch thick or more if you like thicker biscotti. Lay biscotti flat on a pizza screen or baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. If you use a baking sheet, turn the biscotti halfway through baking. Biscotti should be crisp and lightly browned.

Total calories per serving: 81 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 11 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 26 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Wheat-Free Lemon Biscotti

(Makes approximately 60 biscotti)

The texture of this biscotti is drier and a little more crumbly compared to the wheat-based biscotti. You can substitute orange for lemon if you’d like a bit of variation.

2-1/2 cups millet flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
Flax seed egg replacer for 3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 Tablespoons Malibu rum (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in lemon zest.

With a hand blender, mix lemon juice, egg replacer, oil, agave nectar, rum, and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir mixture, adding enough flour for a very stiff dough. It doesn’t matter if you overmix this dough.

Form into three logs. Carefully lay logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten the logs’ tops slightly. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Logs will give a little when done. Remove from oven. Let cool for half an hour.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut logs in slices on the slant, about 1/2-inch thick. Lay on a pizza screen or baking sheet and return to the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove biscotti to a cooling rack.

Total calories per serving: 62 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 30 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Mocha-Chocolate Chip Biscotti

(Makes approximately 56 biscotti)

These cookies are also good covered with Chocolate Frosting. Melt chocolate according to the package directions. Always use a good quality baking or semisweet chocolate.

2 cups barley flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
Flax seed egg replacer for 4 eggs
1 ounce baker’s chocolate, melted
1/2 cup strong coffee or use grain coffee substitute (available in natural foods stores)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Set aside. Blend sugar with shortening. With a hand blender or mixer, add egg replacer, melted chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and coffee extract. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Form into three logs and lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the logs’ tops slightly. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Remove and let logs cool for half an hour before slicing.

Set oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut logs on the slant into 1/2-inch slices. Lay slices flat on a pizza screen and bake for 25 minutes or until cookies seem fairly crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Total calories per serving: 54 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 8 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 11 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Chocolate Frosting

(Frosts approximately 82 biscotti)

Use this frosting on any sweet biscotti.

2-1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips

If you’re using a microwave, melt the chips on HIGH for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove, stir, and microwave again for 1 minute. Continue to stir, then microwave, for 1-minute intervals until the chips are melted.

You can also melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove. Stir the chocolate until the chips melts, which will take about 4-5 minutes.

Stir frosting again and spread across the top of the biscotti.

Total calories per serving: 25 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 3 grams Protein: <1 gram
Sodium: 1 milligram Fiber: <1 gram


Excerpts from the 2005 Issue 2:
Preventing Osteoporosis: Building Strong Bones Over a Lifetime
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, discusses this condition and ways for vegans to keep their skeletons in top shape.
Vegan Biscotti
Debra Daniels-Zeller perfects egg- and dairy-free versions of these common coffee consorts.
Nutrition Hotline
What should vegetarians do if they don't cook or don't have time to do so?
Note from the Coordinators
Scientific Update
Vegan Cooking Tips
Quick Dips, by Chef Nancy Berkoff
Notes from the VRG Scientific Department
Interviews our dietitians granted, articles, and outreach; VRG provides materials to school food service directors.
Veggie Bits
Book Reviews
Catalog
Vegetarian Action
The True Loves of Anna Briggs, by Ben A. Shaberman.
Look for These Products in Your Local Market

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.



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Last Updated
May 14, 2005

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