Biscotti Revisited

Yesterday was my sister-in-law Lauren’s baby shower and I offered to make biscotti for the event. As far as labor goes, biscotti is pretty easy. The dough comes together nicely and requires little, if any, kneading. What you need to be long on is time, since biscotti is a twice baked treat. For the shower I needed 150 pieces—two per guest—and since my oven only has one rack, this could have taken a VERY long time.  I knew I needed to come up with a way to speed this process along. I decided that I would divide each batch of biscotti dough into three logs, which would not only give me the smaller sized cookie that is just right for a favor, but would yield me more pieces per batch. After discarding the ends and burnt pieces (which went into a bowl that Johnny and I have been snacking on since) I was able to get about 30 cookies from every batch of dough. I had Christie print me festive tags, put Johnny to work helping me tie ribbon, and knocked this project out in one day.

Aren’t they pretty? In addition to the cranberry walnut and almond chocolate chip varieties I usually make, I also tried out a chocolate walnut version using dutch processed cocoa. I had never used this ingredient before in my baking but I’ve often read about what a difference it makes. Whole Foods had Rademacher Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa on sale so I bought some and added it to my dough. I can now tell you that doing so absolutely makes a difference. The flavor was rich and pure without being overly sweet. The cocoa is a bit of a splurge (expect to pay around $7-10 per box) but so worth it.

Biscotti is delicious any time of year but is especially popular around the holidays, so I wanted to repost my recipes. I use Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe as my base and then I change up the add-ins accordingly. Happy Baking!

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until blended. Add eggs one at a time beating until smooth. Add dry mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in walnuts. Separate the dough into logs (you should have enough for three logs, but for bigger biscotti do two) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the biscotti are pale golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Place the biscotti on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut the biscotti on a diagonal into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces. Place cut side down onto baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes, turning the cookies halfway through baking time. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cranberry Walnut Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour (I also substitute one cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until blended. Add eggs one at a time beating until smooth. Add dry mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in walnuts and cranberries. Separate the dough into logs (you should have enough for three logs, but for bigger biscotti do two) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the biscotti are pale golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Place the biscotti on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut the biscotti on a diagonal into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces. Place cut side down onto baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes, turning the cookies halfway through baking time. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour (I also substitute one cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until blended. Add eggs one at a time beating until smooth. Add dry mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in almonds and chocolate chips. Separate the dough into logs (you should have enough for three logs, but for bigger biscotti do two) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the biscotti are pale golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Place the biscotti on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut the biscotti on a diagonal into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces. Place cut side down onto baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes, turning the cookies halfway through baking time. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Trail Mix Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour (I also substitute one cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until blended. Add eggs one at a time beating until smooth. Add dry mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in add-ins. Separate the dough into logs (you should have enough for three logs, but for bigger biscotti do two) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the biscotti are pale golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Place the biscotti on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut the biscotti on a diagonal into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces. Place cut side down onto baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes, turning the cookies halfway through baking time. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cookies With Chocolate Chips, Zucchini and Dried Cranberries

I’ve done a steady stream of baking over the last week. I think it’s because I haven’t been that inspired on the dinner front. Give me flour and sugar however, and the possibilities are endless. I started with a batch of thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies. My best yet. I think it was the farm fresh eggs that I got at the Greenmarket. Then, I threw together a batch of cranberry walnut yogurt muffins. They would have been good except for the fact that I completely overbaked them, which made the muffins very dry.  Yesterday, we went to visit our friends Jim and Nicki at their new house, so I baked another batch of the yogurt chocolate chip mini muffins, only this time I added banana. Delightful. Today, after buying a zucchini at the Greenmarket, I was ready to tackle this recipe for zucchini cookies with chocolate chips and dried cranberries. The recipe appeared on the blog Two Peas and Their Pod but I heard about it from Brown Eyed Baker’s Twitter feed. The zucchini, chocolate, cranberry combo intrigued me, especially because the zucchini makes the cookies moist, which means you don’t need to add a lot of butter. As always, I made a few tweaks. I substituted whole wheat flour and I only added one cup of old fashioned (also known as rolled) oats because that was all I had on hand. I also don’t like a ton of oats in cookies so this worked in my favor.

I couldn’t resist sampling the cookies while they were still warm and I have to say, they’re fantastic. Not too sweet and very moist—everything a cookie should be. I got 17 from my batch, but I made them on the larger side, as you can see from the picture below.

I HIGHLY recommend making these cookies, though you will definitely want to eat more than one! But at least you’ll be getting a vegetable in at the same time, which has to count for something.

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars, mix until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract. Next, add the shredded zucchini. Mix until combined.

4. Slowly add flour mixture until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or Silcone baking mats.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Trail Mix Biscotti

As readers of this blog know, I love me some biscotti. I post about it frequently, and it’s one of my favorite afternoon snacks. It has fewer calories than other cookies and it’s the kind of dessert that looks really hard to make but is actually quite simple. (People are always thoroughly impressed when I bring them biscotti, but all you really need is a two hour chunk of time, since they have to cool and then go back into the oven.) Anyway, my friend Monica loved the biscotti favors I made for Heather’s shower, so I offered to make them for her daughter Carson’s graduation party this past weekend. I did cranberry walnut and chocolate chip but I wanted to make a third batch and needed another combo. Hmmm…I took a look at what else I had in my pantry: slivered almonds, chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)…I threw all of them into a bowl, added some dried cranberries and trail mix biscotti was born! For the party, I used white flour, but I made another batch yesterday and I went with whole wheat flour. I was very pleased with the results! The saltiness of the pepitas and the sweetness of the cranberries and chocolate chips made for a delightful combo.

I used Giada DeLaurentiis’ biscotti recipe, substituting whole wheat flour and omitting the lemon zest. Then I added a 1/2 cup each of cranberries, slivered almonds and chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of pepitas. But you can add whatever combo of nuts, dried fruits and seeds you have on hand. Just try to balance the sweet and savory so that you get little bursts of each in every bite. Yum!

Cookie, Cookie

I haven’t had much time to blog this week, but stayed tuned next week for some new recipes. Strawberry muffins anyone? I did however, have time to bake another batch of chocolate chip cookie favors for Carlie’s second birthday party, which is tomorrow. As with the cookie tags for my dad’s party, Christie designed the tags, and I supplied the baked goods.

 

 

I’ll post pictures from the party next week. I’ve got a barley salad melding in the fridge right now. Yum!

Cookie Tag Favors

My father turned 60 on April 22, and to mark the occasion, I planned a dinner for him at Carmine’s in NYC last night. Though it’s loud and bustling (it takes months to get a reservation) the food at Carmine’s is worth the wait. It’s simple, old-school Italian cooking served up family style, so everyone gets to share. To give the birthday dinner a helping of our homemade touch, Christie and I banded together to create cookie favors. She made these tags:

And I made another batch of the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, put them into cellophane bags and attached the cookie tag with a piece of brown ribbon that Christie included:

So cute! I put a cookie favor next to everyone’s plate at the restaurant. It was a clever, chic way to add a bit of personal style to the evening. I often think that Christie and I should go into business together one day. Cambio and Calcaterra? It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I was in the mood to bake this afternoon. I haven’t really made anything sweet since Easter. Actually I’ve been mixing fruity cocktails all week long for a story I’m reporting for InStyle, but I haven’t whipped up anything that required a batter in a couple of weeks. My preferred baked good is always a chocolate chip cookie (although biscotti is fast becoming a close second) and since we’re going to a celebratory dinner tonight for my friend Tiffany’s birthday, I figured that cookies would be well received. Tiff’s a chocoholic after my own heart, and our friend Emily, who will also be there, is my favorite cooking partner. The peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made last month were a huge hit, so I went back on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog to find a recipe for regular chocolate chip cookies. And lo and behold, there was one  in her archives for Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, which promised to deliver bakery quality confections. As you can see from the photo below, the recipe didn’t disappoint.

The recipe calls for 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of flour, but I substituted one cup of whole wheat flour to make them slightly healthier. The switch doesn’t seem to have affected the taste of the cookies at all. I got 16 large cookies out of one batch of dough, the perfect amount for sharing with our dinner companions (with a few left over for me and Johnny!)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) white whole wheat flour, or 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I freelanced at Country Living a couple of years ago, I quickly became a part of their Thursday Knits group, which met (almost) every Thursday at lunchtime. Since most of the members were new knitters, it really gave me a chance to hone my “teaching” skills should I ever decide to start giving knitting lessons. Since then, some of the girls and I have banded together to form our own knitting group, and after a few month’s hiatus, we’re meeting up tomorrow night. My friend Jessica is hosting this time (Jess was my intern when I worked at Teen People, and has now grown up to be a very talented editor at This Old House, of which I am very proud) and a knitting gathering is never complete without some sugar, preferably in cookie form. I’ve been dying to try this cookie recipe I found on a wonderful blog called Brown Eyed Baker and knitting group seemed like the perfect opportunity. The cookies just came out of the oven, and oh do they look tasty. (They weren’t kidding when they warned that I wouldn’t be able to resist sampling the dough.)  Knitters: you are in for a treat!

Biscotti Basics

A few Christmases ago, I tried my hand at making biscotti and I was surprised at how easy it is. I use Giada De Laurentiis’s basic recipe and I pretty much know it by heart by now. The one thing you need in abundance when making biscotti is time. Once they bake for 30-40 minutes, they need to cool for half an hour before going back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. I’m planning on making an assortment of biscotti for my cousin Heather’s baby shower in April, so I’ve been playing around with different combinations of add-ins (almond chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, etc). My husband favors a fruit and nut combo (and eats them practically as fast as I can make them!) so for a family gathering at his parents’ house this weekend, I made pistachio and dried cranberry biscotti, a perfect balance of sweet and savory. Here are the results. Nothing compliments a steaming cup of coffee like biscotti. It’s one of my favorite late afternoon snacks.