Earl Grey Biscotti with Almonds and Homemade Candied Orange Peels

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Fall is in full swing and the season of hot beverages is upon us. We usually stick to the traditional hot cocoa, warm apple cider, coffee, and tea. But recently we started looking for other hot drinks to warm our hands after those increasingly chilly walks home from school.  We stumbled upon some more outlandish drinks like Bubblin’ Hot Swamp Juice, Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate, and Melted Ice Cream Cocoa. We never realized how many different kinds of cider there are, including Buttered Orange Cider, Apple Cranberry Cider, and Spiked Wassail. Some obviously more kid-friendly than others. We need to start experimenting.

Grandma was just here for a visit and her favorite hot drink is Earl Grey tea. So we made her some Early Grey Biscotti with Almonds and Homemade Candied Orange Peels. We used the recipe for candied orange peels in Dolci: Italy’s Sweets. We incorporated the tea not only in the dough, but we combined the contents of one tea bag with a tablespoon of sugar and pressed it on top of each log. Not only does it become highly aromatic as the biscotti bakes, but the tops look extra special dotted with little dark flecks of tea.

 

Earl Grey Biscotti with Almonds and Candied Orange Peels

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

3 tablespoons of earl grey tea or the contents of approximately 10 earl grey tea bags, plus one more tea bag for the topping

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 heaping cup chopped of candied orange peels

½ cup 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,  salt, and tea.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract, 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 dried candied orange peels and almonds 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. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and the content of one tea bag. Press the mixture 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 #39: Grate the ends with a box grater and saute in some butter to create a crumbly topping perfect for adding a little crunchy sweetness to a big bowl of ice cream or the top of cupcakes.

 

Spiced Mandarin Oolong Biscotti

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Our kids love mandarin oranges. Freshly peeled by their own little hands or served from a can, our two love them either way.

I don’t remember eating mandarin oranges much as a kid, but my husband and I ate plenty in Japan. 

Living in northern Japan, every fall you be certain of three things. One, it was raining sideways and it was cold, very cold. And the hot springs were warm, thankfully very warm. Two, the country roads around Lake Towada were jammed with cars on leisurely drives to look at the leaves bursting with amazingly vivid yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. Three, in every house you visited would be a steaming hot pot of oolong tea and a bowl of mandarin oranges in the center of the table for everyone to share. More often than not it turned into a contest to see who could peel the entire orange in one piece.

We had many generous friends who made our experience in Japan memorable. The combination of oolong tea and mandarin oranges (or mikans in Japanese) will always remind us of the many cold, rainy afternoons we spent huddled with toes tucked under a toasty kotatsu and our fingers curled around a steaming cup of tea, learning more about a place and traditions we look forward to sharing with our kids some day.

For these Spiced Mandarin Oolong Biscotti, we used dried mandarin oranges we found on a recent trip to Trader Joe’s. We bought two bags because I had a feeling one would not be enough. And I was right. The kids finished a bag before we got home and then I hid the other one. While the mandarin oranges are deliciously tangy on their own, they lend a fruity sweetness to the backdrop of these spiced oolong infused biscotti. When we kneaded these biscotti, instead of dusting our hands with flour, we drizzled them with Orangecello to keep the dough from sticking and to add a bit more orange flavor.

 

Spiced Mandarin Oolong Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons ground spiced oolong tea (We used Teavana’s Spiced Mandarin Oolong tea and ground it in a coffee grinder.)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon orange extract

½ cup chopped dried mandarin oranges (Trader Joe’s)

Orangecello

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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, salt, and tea.

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

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

5.  Add the mandarin oranges 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. Brush the tops with Orangecello 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.

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What to do with the ends #36: Use the ends instead of graham crackers to make smores.

 

Chamomile Pear Biscotti with Almonds

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We all have our nighttime rituals. Maybe you go to the gym, get lunches ready for the next day, watch television, or surf the Internet. Our kid’s nighttime ritual involves the usual, getting a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, dancing in front of the mirror, reading a story. Then there is the barrage of questions every night after we’ve tucked them into bed. “Are there any monsters in our house?” “Can I have something to drink?” “Will you tell me when to wake up?” “Why can’t boys have babies?” “How was the first person in the world born?” While we talk with our kids about many things, by the end of the day we are exhausted and these are not always questions we care to delve into at bedtime. My nighttime ritual involves a good book, some Words With Friends, and a hot mug of chamomile tea.

We dunk our biscotti in tea, so why not infuse the same flavors into biscotti. Chamomile tea was the first we experimented with when we starting baking with teas. Now we are hooked and visit tea sites online looking for new flavor combinations. We’ve created a long list of biscotti infused with aromatic teas, including green mango and peach, earl grey, rooibos, and jasmine, among many others.

Part of what strikes us first about the food we eat is the smell. Teas are highly aromatic when warmed in the oven and in many instances the flavor profile is already defined, so deciding what fruit, nut, or other ingredients to add is simple. These Chamomile Pear Biscotti with Almonds have an amazingly sweet floral smell when they come out of the oven. The same warmth is sustained when you first taste them. Dipped in a steaming mug of chamomile tea, these biscotti make a wonderful deviation from a more traditional evening snack of milk and cookies.

Chamomile Pear Biscotti with Almonds

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons loose chamomile tea or the contents of 10 chamomile tea bags

3 eggs and 1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup whole almonds

1 cup chopped dried pears

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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, sugars, baking powder, salt, and tea.

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 almonds and dried pears, and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 to 20 times.

6. Separate the dough in half. Form two or three 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. Firmly press the top of each log with granulated sugar.

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 #10: Put the ends in a plastic container and make some music.