Fratelli Perata Winery
Carol's Cranberry-Almond Biscotti

The annual March Zinfandel Festival in Paso Robles finds Fratelli Perata serving our new Zinfandel with warm cranberry-almond biscotti. While the wine is certainly vintage Fratelli Perata with ripe fruit and black pepper, bramble flavors, the biscotti are a new generation favorite. This recipe features dried cranberry for a crisp berry flavor, and almonds that complement ripe Zinfandel fruit. Not baked to a rock-hard finish, these biscotti are terrific for all ages.

280g flour (1 3/4 cups; 9.1oz. by weight)*
300g sugar (1 1/2 cups; 10.5oz by weight)*
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon

3 eggs (2 1/2 if jumbo, see note below)
1 TB vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
175g chopped toasted almonds (6 oz. by weight)
150g dried cranberries (5 oz. by weight)
*Measuring by weight makes the perfect mix and this recipe has been optimized for gram weights. The cups and ounce measures are close but it is REALLY better to do it by grams. Flour was unsifted and measured by scoop and sweep (which tends to be pretty inaccurate).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.  In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  In the bowl of a mixer, beat the eggs until foamy then mix in the extracts. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the eggs and mix with mixer until just combined. Add nuts then cranberries and mix until incorporated.  [It seems like when dry ingredients are mixed the day before, the mix comes out much drier and easier to work. Though it could be the weather, has worked that way over many different prep dates months apart.]

Note: the size of the eggs makes a big difference. The dough needs to be relatively stiff to work. Add some more flour if needed. If you need a lot more flour, add some sugar as well). More about eggs: Eggs are sized by the dozen, 27 oz for Extra Large, 24 oz. for Large. In the end, if weighing everything very precisely we've found that 5 70 gram eggs (jumbo) works very well in a double batch (our jumbo eggs varied between 68 and 72 grams.  It still works).  We've found that when you are very careful with the gram weights the dough is perfect and needs no additional flour. While these are jumbo eggs (from Trader Joes), prob. would be about the same with extra large, but go for the jumbos if you can.

On a well floured baking sheet make the dough into 2 logs about 14" long and 1 1/2" wide each. (Note that the baking sheet doesn't need oil as the flour keeps it from sticking.  Use a lot of flour.) 

Bake the logs at 325 degrees Farenheit for 30 min. 

Remove from the oven and cut the logs into approx. 1/2" pieces. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees Farenheit. Stand the pieces on end on the baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 16 1/2 minutes, OR UNTIL JUST SLIGHTLY BROWNED. You want a bit of browning as that brings out the flavors.  

So what does this all make? A DOUBLE batch (twice the ingredients shown above) is about 4 lbs of cookies and about 180 biscotti (depending on how wide you cut them) of varying length.

Preparation hints: For big batches, a large, powerful 5qt. stand mixer can do a double batch. Each log comes out to be about 520 grams. When doing big batches here's some nice hints: Since you know you are making 520g per log, you can put your mixing bowl on your scale and tare it. Then remove 520g. The scale will read -520. Tare again and repeat till dough is gone. If there is more left, apportion to the logs.  If less, steal a bit from other logs. Shape the logs by taking a 11x14 sheet pan and put at least 1/2 cup flour on it. Put 1/2 the dough onto the pan and shape the dough into a log 14" long and 1 1/2" wide each. Then do another log (you probably want to use more flour to make sure the shaping goes easier). Either transfer the logs to another work area, or get another 11x14 pan. Flour both sides of the log so they won't be sticky. Take a piece of wax paper the length of the pan and put the log on it and wrap it. Repeat with other logs (you can get 4 onto the plan which is one double batch. Refrigerate overnight (you can even freeze the dough). Refrigerated dough when brought back to a workable temperature, its actually easier to deal with; before it gets too warm and sticky. You can flour the bottom of the "log" more effectively. If the log sticks after the first baking, just let it cool a bit and carefully pry up with a spatula. A "bakers bench knife" is useful for cutting the cookies. 

Variation: substitute blueberries for the cranberries. Be careful about blending it in, though. Done wrong, it ends up looking kinda gray (but still tastes great).