Chocolate Nerd Biscotti

Nerd 4 

For those of you with kids, I am sure you are wondering what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy…unless you are one of those parents who let them eat as much as they want knowing it will only make them  sick. It’s not a bad plan and I’m not judging! Ultimately you are hoping that it will teach them a lesson. Yet, I’ve seen the “eat as much as you want” plan backfire on more than one parent. However, I’ve discovered as a parent, you are either a “rationer”, who saves the candies for school lunches, road trips, or even party favors, doling out only a little at time, or you are a “hands-off and all in” parent, who lets them go at it.

Put simply, we are the rationers. In our house we currently have enough candy to put a 700 pound man into a coma. In fact, I once had a friend, who was benignly looking for a glass in our kitchen when he come across our stash and described it as the “Willy Wonka cupboard.” In fact I think there is still candy in there from last Halloween. We’ve got to clean it out. So I started thinking about what to do with all the candy we are storing in the cupboard like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter.

We do have a tradition on Thanksgiving morning in our house. We watch the Macy’s Day Parade and in an attempt to give the kids the full experience, we hand them paper bags with their names on them and occasionally throw candy to them on the living room floor. They love it. But this year was the first year our daughter asked, “Where are you getting all this candy?” We are going to have to give that some careful thought for next year.

You can use extra Halloween candy to decorate gingerbread houses, make edible necklaces, stuff stockings, or even…you knew it was coming…bake in biscotti!

So this year, as every year, our kids discover a new candy around Halloween. This year our daughter fell in love with Nerds. You remember those little hard candies that resemble pebbles and come in a variety of colors and flavors. So when I asked if she would like to experiment and make biscotti with some of her Halloween candy, Nerds was her pick.

As we were almost ready to make the logs, she threw me a curve ball. In addition to the Nerds she insisted on melted chocolate, which is something we have topped biscotti with, but never put into the batter. We found a full-size Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bar in our s’more stash and melted it down. As we kneaded it into the dough, it left a marbled effect that was wonderful and delicious.

Chocolate Nerd Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup Nerds candy (any flavor or mix them all together)

1 full-size Dark Chocolate Hershey bar, melted

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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 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 Nerds. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Add the melted chocolate. Knead until the dough has a marbled effect, about 5 – 10 times.

7.  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.

8.  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.

9.  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 #88: Use the ends to create a long curvy parallel pathway on a table top. Then grab two straws and some Nerds and see who can get their Nerd to the finish line first by blowing them down the pathway with the straw. The winner gets to eat both Nerds.

 

Orange Fig Cocoa Biscotti

Orange Fig Coca Biscotti 3

It was one of those rare evenings that we had no place to be and no homework to do. “Who wants to make biscotti?” I was met with a chorus of “I do!”

As little hands helped transport the ingredients via step ladders that were somehow turned into makeshift carts, we talked about how long it had been since we’d made biscotti. We’ve been busy. Perhaps too busy. We talked about how this year, our daughter’s first year in school, has been a learning experience in time management for all of us. We are looking forward to slowing things down a bit. For the first time I heard our daughter say, “I just haven’t had time to do it.”

In our culture we view time as a commodity. We can spend time, save time, and waste time. Lately we spend our time running from one activity to another, hurrying our way through the day. Lately we try to save time by dividing and conquering, trying to get an extra hour or two out of the day. Although I wrestle with the idea of wasted time, I’m not sure we’ve wasted any lately.

Time is precious. And what better to do with precious time than spend it in the kitchen with our little bakers.

A jar of fig and cocoa spread was sitting on our counter for quite some time, so we used it as our inspiration. We ran out of dark cocoa powder, so I used some regular cocoa powder. However, if you really enjoy chocolate hunt for a good quality dark cocoa powder. We used cocoa nibs in these for the same reason. While there was some debate about the figs, apparently our daughter loves them and our son refuses to try them, and some debate about adding the orange extract, we comprised (actually I just finally decided otherwise we’d be baking until midnight before an amicable agreement could have been reached) and added both. Rather than dunking these Orange Fig Cocoa Biscotti, we slathered them with fig and cocoa spread. Delicious!

As they always do, the two of them wanted to make their own biscotti. Our son wanted to make a starfish. We shaped five little balls, rolled them out, and then pieced them together in the middle.

starfish

Our daughter wanted to make a three-dimensional figure, which the rest of us immediately thought looked like a pile of dog poop. To each her own. It is her masterpiece and she is quite proud of it. However, she hasn’t eaten it yet.

poop

We have 15 days of school left. We are looking forward to a little more free time, which means more time for biscotti! And other things of course.

 

Orange Fig Cocoa Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 eggs and 2 egg whites, save the egg yolks for the topping

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

zest of 1 orange

15 dried mission figs or about 1 cup chopped

¼ cup cocoa nibs

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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, salt, and cocoa.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, extracts, and orange zest.

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 figs and cocoa nibs. 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. In a small bowl, whisk together the two remaining eff yolks and brush on the top of each log. Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on the top of each log.

8.  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.

9.  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 #77: Use the ends to create a sundial to tell time.

Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

chocolate cherry 4

We don’t know if it is a personal problem or not. We’ve talked to other parents who expressed a similar sentiment when we asked, so we don’t feel like the exception. Yet, we find ourselves repeating the same phrase over and over again everyday. “Please stop yelling.” Actually, most of the time the “please” is missing from that sentence. Our son has no “inside voice.”

We’ve read that kids equate loudness with getting heard and apparently you can “give your kid an inside voice” by speaking “calmly, quietly, with a soft demeanor.” What? Had we known that, we would have gifted him one a long time ago. And if we spoke calmly and quietly, I am quite sure he would never hear us!

Most everything that comes out of his mouth is decibels higher than it needs to be. While a whisper comes in at 15 decibels and a normal conversation occurs at 60 decibels, we are quite sure if we could measure his voice it would be well above that…almost anytime. At dinner, with the four of us sitting no more than an arm lengths away, I am quite sure he would come in around 110 decibels, or the equivalent of a car horn.

We’ve just decided he’s passionate or easily excitable, which describes many Italians and is not necessarily a bad thing.

His heart is just as big as his voice. If we give him crayons, scissors, or some chalk, he turns contemplative, creating a masterpiece he is sure to give to one of us to treasure.

So when I mentioned needing some help with the photographs for the blog, and that it involved chalk, both the kids were happy to oblige. After we finished, they created some wonderful chalk art…on themselves and the chalkboards.

A friend requested these Cherry Chocolate Biscotti and we are glad she did. Cherries and chocolate are a classic combination.

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Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup cocoa powder

3 eggs

1 teaspoon black cherry flavored oil, plus ½ teaspoon for the topping (We used LorAnn Oils Brand.)

¾ cup dried bing cherries

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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, salt, and cocoa powder.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and black cherry oil.

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 cherries. 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. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ teaspoon black cherry flavored oil with a fork in a small bowl. Press mixture firmly on top of each log.

8.  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.

9.  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 #59: Crumble the ends on your lawn Christmas Eve for the reindeer to eat.

Orange Chocolate Biscotti

orange 7

Some people will say biscotti are too involved, too much work, or too time consuming. However, the thing that we like about baking biscotti is that they do take time, which allows us to do other things while creating masterpieces. Some times more than others we exhibit shorter attention spans in our house, which is a great time to make biscotti. We can mix, shape, and bake our biscotti and then take time to go for a bike ride, read a few books, or ponder whether or not a cherry tree will grow in our belly if we swallow the cherry pit. When we have time, we bake them again. Then we play monster, match the clean socks in the laundry, or ponder whether or not a watermelon vine will grow out our ears if we swallow a watermelon seed. When we have time, we finish the biscotti with melted chocolate, glazes, or some other sweet topping. Then we talk about whether or not we will turn into biscotti from eating too many biscotti. The consensus in our house is a definite “no.” Although I am always quick to ask what type of biscotti the kids would want to be if they could be any flavor. I am always looking for our next experiment. 

Baking biscotti is not like hosting a dinner party where you are constantly reminded to prepare as much as you can ahead of time so that you can enjoy your company, keeping everyone out of the kitchen. Baking biscotti is all about getting everyone in the kitchen and involved in the creative process. A friend came over last weekend so we could do a little catching up and a little biscotti baking. She was a biscotti virgin so we perused the Biscotti Bin and she decided on Orange Chocolate Biscotti. Every bite of these biscotti were fabulous! As she said, “I think I missed my calling,” and I couldn’t agree more. It is her creative vision, but she agreed to let me share it. I later found out that although she intended to share them with her co-workers, the batch didn’t quite make it through the weekend. That’s how good these biscotti are! We topped some with melted chocolate and candied orange peels and drizzled others with an orange glaze (recipe follows).

Orange Chocolate Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup 100% dark cocoa powder

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 ½ teaspoon orange extract

½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

¾ cup candied orange peels

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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, salt, and cocoa powder.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites (save the two reamaining yolks to top the logs before baking), and orange 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 chocolate chips and orange peels, kneading 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. Whisk together the two remaining egg yolks. Brush the top of the logs with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Dip in melted chocolate and sprinkle with candied orange peels or drizzle with an orange glaze (mix 1 cup powered sugar with 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate or freshly squeezed orange juice).

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What to do with the ends #19: Arrange the ends as an obstacle course for remote control cars.

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti

espresso 5

Our son has a problem. He’s a coffee addict. Which makes us believe he may also be a caffeine addict, not ideal for a four-year old. We leave the room for just a minute and our coffee mugs are empty when we return. The bag of dark chocolate covered espresso beans on the counter gets smaller and smaller without any of us actually eating them. Hum. He loves coffee flavored yogurt, hard candies, and ice cream. He helps me make the coffee each morning, pouring the water, measuring the coffee grinds, and pushing the buttons to turn on the coffeepot. He always asks for “just a taste” of the creamer and will gladly add Splenda packets to any coffee mug. Maybe he is an old soul. Maybe he is a kid who is going to start going through withdrawal and getting the shakes once the school year starts and his morning access to caffeine is cut off. Either way, we’ve got to address the problem.

In an attempt to curb his addiction and at least regulate his intake, the two of us gladly took the bag of dark chocolate covered espresso beans and used them in these Chocolate Espresso Biscotti. And, when he asked if he could dip his biscotti in my coffee, I handed him a glass of milk instead. I think we have a long road ahead of us, but we are moving in the right direction.

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup 100% dark cocoa powder

1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso powder

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans

¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate 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, sugar, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites (save the yolks to top the logs before baking), 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 espresso beans and chocolate chips and 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. Whisk together the two remaining egg yolks. Brush the top of the eggs with the egg wash.

8. Mix equal parts espresso powder and sugar in a small bowl. With your fingers spread the mixture on top of the logs.

9. 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.

10. 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 #18: Give the ends to a teething baby.