Brea’s Taps—Among the Ales & Lagers, Wine Dinners and House-Made Biscotti

Orange Coast

Senior Editor Chris Christensen visited Taps in Brea for a wine dinner, and didn’t leave empty-handed—she got the recipe for the restaurant’s fruit-and-nut-packed biscotti, and shares it with Taste of Orange County today.

Taps Fish House & Brewery, the lively North County restaurant that’s all about ales and lagers, also has the occasional wine dinner. I couldn’t pass up the most recent, spotlighting the popular wines of Paso Robles’ Justin Vineyards & Winery, which make my mouth water just thinking about them. The juicy 2008 Isosceles and 2009 Justification are my faves, and they paired well with chef Manny Gonzalez’s tender, slow-roasted suckling pig, and his spotted prawn and cauliflower panna cotta.

But my favorite course was dessert, served with the subtly sweet and raisin-y 2010 Justin Obtuse. Like a kid’s dessert for grownups, the plate was a whimsical array of bites to be dunked and swirled and spooned and dipped—tiramisu, a ganache-like chocolate fondue, fresh berries, and a variety of biscotti. I wished I’d saved more room.

Not to worry. Culinary director Tom Hope read my mind and brought me a to-go box and an extra container of biscotti for the road. The best part? He included a recipe for the fruit-and-nut cookies, which he calls Spring Biscotti. I’m not sure what the “spring” refers to, but it’s as good a time as any to make them.—Chris Christensen

Spring Biscotti from Taps

¼ cup butter

¾ cup white sugar

Zest from one orange

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 egg white

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

½ cup dried cranberries

1 1/4 cups pistachios

½ cup dried apricots, chopped

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and egg white one at a time, beating well after each. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture using a wooden spoon. Stir in the white chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistachios. Cover and chill for 30 minutes, or until the dough is no longer sticky.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into halves. Form each half into a flattish log about 12 inches long by 3 inches wide. Arrange logs at least 3 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until pale gold. Allow logs to cool on the baking sheet until cool enough to handle. On a cutting board, cut logs crosswise on a diagonal into 1-inch thick slices. Arrange on baking sheet.

Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Transfer biscotti to wire racks, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 2 dozen biscotti.

COOK’S NOTES: These cookies inspire experimentation. Try other nuts, dried fruit, baking chocolate, or flavorings. For instance, you might leave out the orange zest, then substitute almonds, dried cherries, dark chocolate, and almond flavoring instead of vanilla.   

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