Nutty Bitters Biscotti

Bitters 3

Cravings: eager desire or yearning.

We all have them, food addictions or cravings.

Some cravings are constant. For example, I can’t see tiramisu without my mouth-watering and I can think of nothing else until I have some. So why torment myself? And I crave my coffee in the morning. Without it, I’m useless.

Some cravings come and go. Like a favorite dish at a restaurant or ice cream during the warm summer months. Maybe it’s some weird food during a pregnancy or perhaps it’s the undeniable urge for salty snacks.

Maybe it’s not what you eat but when you eat. Maybe late-night food cravings drive you to pillage through the cupboards while everyone else is asleep.

Right now we are addicted to Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts, from Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all.

These nuts are amazing, best served warm, and the entire four cups never last more than two days in our house. I fear we may all actually turn into nuts at the rate we are shoveling these into our mouths, just like Burger Boy who will only eat burgers, eventually turns into a burger, and is chased all over town by people who want to eat him. I wonder who would want to eat us if we turned into nuts? We have plenty of squirrels in the backyard…I think that is a children’s book just waiting to be written.

While these nuts taste good on their own, we thought they might taste just as good in biscotti spiced with some additional Bitters and rosemary. We were right!

Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

4 cups unsalted and raw nuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, and walnuts

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (We used dried rosemary, cut and sifted.)

1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (We used only half this amount to keep it tolerable for the kids.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Angostura bitters

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

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1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes (shake the nuts around on the pan halfway through.)

3. Combine the brown sugar, butter, rosemary, cayenne, cinnamon, honey and bitters in a large bowl.

4. Add the nuts to the bowl and mix thoroughly so they’re nicely coated.

5. Add the salt and mix again.

Bitters collage 2

Nutty Bitters Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

1  ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons dried rosemary, cut and sifted

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon Bitters

1 teaspoon Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and rosemary.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and Bitters.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends # 83: Keep them in a bag, close at hand, and hide them to satisfy your next craving!

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Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti

Fuhgeddaboudit 1

“Fuhgeddaboudit!” A phrase that is most commonly associated with a dialect spoken by Italians in New Jersey and New York.  According to the Urban Dictionary online, fuhgeddaboudit obviously means to “forget about it – the issue is not worth the time, energy, mental effort, or emotional resources” or “the subject is unequivocally excellent; further thought and analysis are unnecessary.”

The characters in The Sopranos are known for a “fuhgeddaboudit” or two. You can go online to order t-shirts and hats. And there is even a New Jersey Style Deli called Fuhgeddaboudit.

As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I think if she had inserted a “fuhgeddaboudit” or two in that quote it may have had wider appeal. These Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti make us feel free to experiment and throw caution to the wind.

Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti are a tradition in our house. Our son and daughter each pick two ingredients from the Biscotti Bin and then we fuhgeddaboudit! We never really know how they are going to turn out, but that is half the fun. A true experiment in creativity.

For our latest version of our Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti, our daughter picked peanut butter baking bits and banana chips. Our son choose roasted almonds and sassafras hard candies. Interesting combination right? But that’s the fun of it. No recipe, no set of ingredients, and no inspiration, other than the choices they make themselves. While we enjoy making these, the kids may enjoy practicing “fuhgeddaboudit” in their best Italian accent even more.

While you may not have all the ingredients to make our latest Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti, create your own! And don’t forget to practice your “fuhgeddaboudit!”

Fuhgeddaboudit 3

Fuhgeddaboudit Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ packed brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup banana chips, crushed

½ cup whole roasted almonds

10 hard sassafras candies, crushed

¼ cup peanut butter baking chips

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites and vanilla extract.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the banana chips, almonds, sassafras candies, and peanut butter baking chips. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #82: “Fugeddaboudit!”

 

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Maple Walnut Biscotti with a Maple Glaze

Maple Walnut 1

The traveling circus just returned from our final road trip of the summer. We did not escape occurring any medical bills on this trip and we also lost a tooth in the parking lot of the spaceship diner in Niagara Falls, but a good time was had by all…and a few lessons learned.

1. Fresh cheese curds from gas stations are not as bad as you think.

2. Always wear shoes. (This is where the medical bills come in.)

3. If you walk in a rainbow all your wishes will come true.

4. You can purchase firewood by the armload.

5. Do not ask children if they need to use the bathroom EVERY time you see a roadside rest stop or exit with a Sheetz. (Some of us already knew this one.)

6. If the border patrol asks if you are traveling with your parents, the answer is “yes.”

And of course there were questions posed to us along the way. One of our favorites was, “Why do you need a receipt when you pay for the food you eat? You can’t take it back.”

Along the way we also attended a shotgun wedding, complete with ceremony, first dance, first kiss, and reception. On August 16th Pink Monkey (a.k.a. Molly) married Alex. Our daughter set the date months ago and was not going to forget it. Yet we did, until my husband and I remembered the night before. So it was a last-minute scramble and we surprised her with a special stop at Sideling Hill on route 68 in western Maryland along the first leg of our road trip. The wedding cake (blueberry muffin) was purchase from the ice rink where our son played hockey that morning. The cake topper and wedding certificate were printed out and assembled the night before. The gown (scarf) and tie (metallic shoe string) were thrown in the car at the last-minute. Vows were exchanged amid the sounds from the freeway below and the two are now officially married and sure to live happily ever after.

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On our trip we stayed with family and friends in Pennsylvania and spent time in Canada, which as many of you probably know is well-known for maple flavored EVERYTHING! As we drove south on the QEW from Toronto to Niagara Falls, we saw signs for a distillery. A vacation can’t be all about the kids, right? So we thought we’d check out the tour, which apparently ended only 30 minutes before we walked in the door. But we did leave with some whiskey and maple liqueur, which is perfect for spicing up your coffee and dunking your biscotti.

Maple Walnut Biscotti with a Maple Glaze

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, plus one for the brushing on the logs

2 teaspoons maple extract

1 ½ cups walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Icing

¼ cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and maple extract.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the walnuts. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough into thirds.  Form three logs, approximately 2 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

9. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti with a spoon.

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What to do with the ends #81: Crumble and throw the ends at your next roadside wedding instead of rice.

 

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Amaretto Almond Biscotti

amaretto 7

“Mom, what are butt boosting jeans?” The first of many questions that our kids asked me as we found ourselves lost in the Bronx. There were countless others that followed throughout our time in New York.

“Why does she have ‘I heart NY’ on her butt?”

“How does he get his hair to stick straight up like that?”

And perhaps my favorite I overheard in the back seat. ”WOW! Look at that cool playground.” To which our daughter replied, “Buddy, that’s not a playground. That’s a fire escape.”

These little conversations are important ones, the ones we’ll remember and laugh at for years to come. I often find myself wishing I carried a tape recorder or wrote down their words more often than I do.  Yet, seeing things or a place through a child’s eye makes me realize how much of our understanding of the world we take for granted.

We posed for pictures in Grand Central Station, saw the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, rode the Staten Island Ferry, browsed the books at The Strand, grazed the food trucks parked on Union Square, and spent plenty of time on the subway, which also provided plenty of opportunities for questions.

“What if someone gets sick on the subway? Do they have doctor’s down here?”

“What if I fall through that hole?”

And after hearing the public announcement about reporting sexual assaults witnessed or experienced on the train, our daughter turns to me and asks, “What’s an assault?”  The women next to me, who had been listening to their barrage of questions, smiled and says,” I want to hear you explain that one.”

So I explained that assault is very similar to being bullied. If you see someone being bullied or see someone getting hurt, you should always tell an adult. The same thing is true on the train.

The women next to me smiled again and offered up a “very well done,” which gave me a boost of confidence to get through the remainder of the day and know that I could safely return us to our beds that night, unscathed but with stories to tell. Now that I’d answered those questions, I only had to worry about getting us all off the train without one of them dropping through that little hole between the train and the platform that they each found so fascinating.

The little things like the silly putty that our friends gave us during our visit (thanks Patrick!), which kept the kids occupied for hours but are now a petri dish for every conceivable germ known to man, or our new favorite road tripping song, “Say Hey (I Love you)” by Michael Franti & Spearhead, which our son is still singing to himself, surely made the trip memorable.

The little things are important. Little things like almonds for example. Have I mentioned I love almonds? They are my comfort food of sorts. So after a long few days on the road, I was happy to find myself alone in the kitchen and whipped up one of my favorite combinations, Amaretto Almond Biscotti. It’s a classic combination and won’t disappoint!

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 1 egg white

1 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup Amaretto

½ cup whole almonds

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, almond extract, and Amaretto.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the almonds. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #80: Pretend the ends are microphones while singing along on your next roadtrip.

 

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And we have a winner!

It’s that time of year again…the county fair.

We spent days talking about what each of the kids wanted to enter. Our son started with a cake, then was certain he wanted to enter biscotti, before finally settling on cookies. Our daughter wanted to enter fudge, but decided on brownies.

I was going to submit biscotti. I couldn’t decide what kind. My husband said to pick something I’ve made before that I know is good. Probably sage advice, but I didn’t follow it. As I looked at the Biscotti Bin, I noticed quite a few orange flavored items I’ve been waiting to try. I settled on Orange Pistachio Biscotti.

So early Saturday morning my daughter, my son, and I got a glimpse of the county fair before the gates even opened as we submitted our baked goods to be evaluated. They were equally exited about the rides…the yo-yo or those swings that make me dizzy just by looking at them, the freefall ride that I’ve always associated with the Demon Drop at Cedar Point in Ohio which I’ve never ridden only wondered how crazy you had to be to get on it, and the ferris wheel, which exacerbates my very slight fear of heights.  Anyone who knows me knows I despise amusement parks.

We returned to the fair Sunday to check out the livestock, tractors, and of course find out if any of us had ribbons on our entries. We had the “we are all winners” conversation as we got out of the car and walked through the gates. And we had the “it doesn’t matter if we win or not, we had fun doing it” conversation. Yet, all our son kept saying was “I hope I won the fair!” I have to admit I was a bit nervous walking into the building that housed all the baked goods, not quite sure how all of this was going to play out.

We came across the “ethnic cookie” category first. I shared with you the outcome of my county fair entry last year. This year was perhaps even more comical. I again entered my biscotti in the “ethnic cookie” category. No ribbon. Not earth shattering and I realized I set a good precedence for whatever was to come as a result of our kids entries. While I got a hug from our daughter and an “it’s okay mom.” I was somewhat relieved and curious at the same time. As I looked at the other four entries, I realized each of them had gotten a ribbon. My biscotti came in last place. But the best part is that someone’s Italian Oatmeal Biscotti actually won first prize! My husband and I were laughing so hard we could barely read the tags to find the kids’ entries.

We found our daughter’s brownie container. No ribbon.

Then we found our son’s cookie container. A blue first place ribbon was attached to the top. I’ve never seen him more excited! Out of all the 5-11 year old entries in the “hand-formed cookie” category, he won first place. We congratulated him, took pictures, and shared a round of hugs.

He made these cookies all by himself. While I told him what to do, he got out the ingredients, measured, mixed, and hand-rolled each cookie. He whisked the frosting, dipped the cookies, and gave each a healthy sprinkle of nonpareils. Way to go my man!

We picked up our boxes and walked to the exit, only to be stopped by the baked good police who were shouting at us as if we were trying to smuggle a newborn out of the maternity ward. Apparently all entries need to remain at the fair until the final day. Who knew!

We quietly replaced the boxes and explained to a rather frustrated little guy that he had to wait to take the ribbon home. We promised to find a prominent place in the kitchen for him to display his award…when we finally get to bring it home. He is my big kitchen helper.

Rocco Ribbon

While I could share my recipe for my entry, Orange Pistachio Biscotti, the real show stopper is our son’s Lemon Ricotta Cookies. We make these during the holidays and although there are several steps involved, they are perfect cookies for little hands. There are plenty of recipes for ricotta cookies online and in Italian cookbooks. The cookie recipes are relatively the same, but the frosting recipes can vary greatly. We used a family recipe that has been handed down through the generations and wanted to share it with you here.  

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

½ pound of butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 pound ricotta cheese

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

4 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

nonpareils

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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and salt.

3. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, and lemon zest.

4. In another large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

6. Dip your hands into a bowl of cold water and shape small, no bigger than golf-ball sized balls, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.

7. Bake for 10 minutes of until the edges are lightly browned. Let the cookies cool completely.

8. Dip the dome of each cookie upside-down into the frosting, and let all of the extra frosting drizzle off.

9. Immediately sprinkle each cookie with nonpareils.

Frosting

5 tablespoons milk

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

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