Everyone knows that biscotti means twice-baked and that mandelbrodt—essentially Jewish biscotti, if not the other way round—also gets its appealing, bone-dry crunch from a double bake. But why stop there?
Experimenting with shortbread years ago, I found that the centers of my thick shortbread pieces often remained slightly doughy—rather than dry-but-melt-in-your-mouth tender. When I published the recipe, I added troubleshooting advice, instructing the cook to put shortbread pieces back in the oven if they weren’t completely crunchy. I later realized that the twice-baked pieces were always better than the others. From then on, the double bake became a part of both the recipe and its title. Twice-Baked Shortbread (from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies) was thus born! I swear by it still.
Now, whenever any batch of cookies or crackers turns out chewy or bendable, when they ought to be snappy, I put them right back into the oven. And you should too.
Here’s what you need to know about double baking. First, avoid jumping the gun. Never judge the texture of a cookie or cracker while it’s still hot: These items usually crisp up—if they are going to—after they are completely cool. The same is true when you’ve twice-baked them: evaluate only after they are cool. (No one knows how hard it is to wait before tasting more than I do.) Once it’s clear that you do have limp cookies or less-than-crispy crackers, put them back into a preheated 300° F or 325° F oven, regardless of the original (presumably higher) baking temperature. I tend to use 300° F for items that can’t afford to get darker, and 325° if a little extra color won’t hurt. The idea is to reheat and let the items stay hot for a few minutes to drive out extra moisture—not necessarily to make them browner or darker (unless they were too pale to begin with). At these low-ish temperatures, you are also less likely to over bake or burn your treats. Generally, the second bake requires only 10-15 minutes—the first 5 of which are merely reheating the items.
Once cookies or crackers are cooled and crispy or crunchy, store them in an airtight container to keep them that way.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).
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