Maple Pepper Biscotti

Makes about 24 to 32 biscotti.

Note: These crunchy twice-baked savory cookies are terrific any time of day. Feel free to vary the nuts depending on what you have on hand. Maple sugar is available in the baking section of many grocery stores and in the bulk section of local food co-ops and at farmers markets, as well as online. The cost is about $9 to $10 for a half-pound. Substitute light brown sugar, if preferred. If you don't have buttermilk available, you can add 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, or use plain yogurt (not Greek style). From "Sweet Nature," by Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen.

• 1/2 c. blanched almonds

2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

• 1/4 c. cornmeal

1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 1 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

• 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. maple sugar (see Note)

1/2 c. buttermilk (see Note)

• 2 eggs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the almonds in a baking pan and roast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove, cool and chop fine.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, salt, baking powder and baking soda, maple sugar, and the almonds. Make a well in the center.

In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the eggs. Pour this into the well. Stir with a fork to create a crumbly dough. Gather the dough with your hands.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth but still slightly sticky. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a log that is about 2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Repeat with the remaining dough. If not baking immediately, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate. To bake, put the logs on 2 baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. As they bake, the ends may split down the center. Cool on the baking sheets.

Reduce the heat to 200 degrees. Transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into slices that are 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the slices cut side up on the baking sheets and bake until hard to the touch, about 15 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and continue baking until they are dry and very crisp, another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. These will keep in an airtight container for several weeks.

Nutrition information per each of 32:

Calories 55 Fat 2 g

Sodium 270 mg Carbohydrates 8 g

Saturated fat 0 g Added sugars 0 g

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 12 mg

Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ starch, ½ fat.