07
Sep
12

Walnut and Valerian Biscotti (Baked)

[Equipment: convection oven for slow baking, baking tray with silicone mat. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths.]

Note: This cookie contains a medicinal ingredient: valerian root. Please research any concerns about the ingredient before making this recipe.

These relaxing cookies get their mild but noticeable tranquilizing effect from homemade valerian root oil. Valerian has a bitter taste, so I played with the bitterness by adding complementary flavors of brown sugar, walnuts and coffee. Baking soda offsets some of the acidity, for a cookie that tastes very smooth. The sedating effect is truly mild for me, and I could eat them all day. However, anyone not familiar with valerian root should consume them cautiously.

My local market sells solid valerian root, which is very hard – like wood – and cannot be cut with a knife. For the oil infusion, I snipped off small chunks of it with a set of wire cutters, the kind sold in hardware stores. The same amount (2 grams) of powdered valerian root could be infused more easily, and could be added to the cookie dough after infusion with the risk of more bitter cookie. Choose a bland oil (I had canola) to avoid any off flavors. The infusion time should be at least 24 hours at 115°F/46.1°C.

The infusion could be heated in an oven, a dehydrator, on an insulated incense burner, even in a box heated with an incandescent bulb, but keep the temperature no higher to preserve the efficacy of the valerian essences.

Makes 10 cookies
– 117 calories per cookie
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C

Biscotti:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon valerian oil (see text and see below)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 packets sucralose (equal to about 3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)

Valerian Oil:

  • 2 grams valerian root or valerian powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Valerian Oil Method:


1. If using valerian root, weigh out 2 grams. With mini clippers, break up the root by snipping off small chunks. If using valerian powder, measure out 2 grams of powder.

2. In a small heatproof dish, mix the root pieces with the vegetable oil. Cover the dish with heat-resistant plastic wrap.

3. Heat the oil over an insulated incense burner or put the dish in a low oven for at least 24 hours. In either case, the temperature of the oil should rise no higher than 115°F/46°C. Check it occasionally with a thermometer. Use immediately or store until ready to use.

Biscotti Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder until well combined.

2. In a small bowl, mix the egg, brown sugar, sucralose, valerian oil, vanilla and water until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to form a stiff dough.

4. Add walnuts and knead into the dough.

5. Transfer the dough to a baking mat. Shape into flat log about 9.5 x 3 inches.

6. Bake at 250°F/121°C for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden.

7. With a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1-inch cookies. Place the cookies on the baking mat, one cut side facing up. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn cookies over so that other cut side faces up. Bake for another 15 minutes.

8. Let cool and serve or store in an airtight container.

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