Dough Gob Biscotti

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Our kids most common request for breakfast, and occasionally dinner, is a big warm bowl of museli with a mashed banana, yogurt, or preserves, spiked with some flax seed.  Granted we eat our share of colossal doughnuts, boxed cereal, chocolate chip pancakes, and french toast made from sweet breads.

Yet, truth be told, I am not a breakfast fan. A piece of toast with almond butter, a biscotti, or some yogurt with granola suite me just fine.

But as a kid I loved breakfast in our house on Saturday mornings. Saturday was dough gobs.

What are dough gobs, you may be wondering. Perhaps the best stuff on earth. Dough gobs are a simple, yet special treat that was reserved for lazy Saturday mornings, when no one had to rush to work, school, church, or deliver newspapers.

Simply put, dough gobs are fried dough covered in any combination of brown, powdered, or granulated sugar, sometimes with a hint of cinnamon. Really, what’s not to love.

Every culture has some version of fried dough, but think elephant ears, fritters, or funnel cake.

The dough, sometimes homemade and sometimes bought from the local pizza shop, was always in a large bowl on the counter covered with a kitchen towel, waiting to be stretched into pieces and dunked in a hot pot of oil, which was always the first thing we smelled on Saturday mornings. Careful to ensure we didn’t burn ourselves, our mother shooed us away from hot pot of crackling oil, which always reminded me of a witches cauldron. She would carefully pull off a piece off dough, not too big because the center wouldn’t cook through, and not too small because it would crisp up and burn. When perfectly cooked, the outside was golden brown with just a little crunch, while the dough inside was warm and soft.

After a specified time, which as far as I can tell was one of those things she just know from doing it for so long, although she could probably have measured in the number of times she had to tell us that they weren’t ready yet, she would carefully left each uniquely shaped fried dough gob onto a large brown grocery bag to let it cool for just a minute. If the dough gobs were too hot, the sugar mixture would melt. If they were too cold, the sugar mixture wouldn’t stick. Again, this was one of those things for which there were no steadfast guidelines. During this time my brother and I would decide which pieces we wanted, usually the largest ones, and what each resembled, as if we were trying to find shapes in the clouds. Maybe a dog, or a snowman, or a car would materialize before our eyes, although we rarely agreed.

Two small brown paper bags were set up on the table, each containing some sort of sugar mixture. We plopped each dough gob into a bag and vigorously shook, as we carefully scrunched the top closed with our little fists. On more than one occasion I am sure our little hands didn’t quite close the bag completely, covering the kitchen in a sticky sugar shower.

We shook and shook and shook. Once we were satisfied that every square inch of that dough gob was carefully coated with sugary goodness, we opened the bag and had out first taste. With a little extra sugar on the plate for dipping the warm soft dough inside, we were guaranteed each bit would be covered in sugar. And if we didn’t use all that extra sugar for the dough gobs, we’d find a way to eat every last bit.

I realized as I was writing this, that we’ve not yet made dough gobs for our kids. Although it sound like the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. I do think everyone in our house would agree.

With dough gobs on the brain, we set out to make a biscotti that incorporated all that simple cinnamon sugary goodness.

 

Dough Gob Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar, plus ½ tablespoon for the topping

¾ cup packed light brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cinnamon, plus ½ tablespoon for the topping

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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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 cinnamon.

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.  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.

6.  In a small bowl, mix together the remaining brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon with a fork. Press the sugar mixture on top of each log.

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 #67: Play Bury the Biscotti…bury the ends in the snow and see who can find it first.

Kahlua and Espresso Biscotti

 

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Sometimes we half listen to what the kids say. We don’t do it on purpose or because we don’t think what they have to say is important, but it happens. Our two are full of stories, questions, and what-ifs that sometimes it is hard to keep up and our brains take a little hiatus, which apparently also affects our listening skills.

“Did you see the eye in the woods?” For the last two weeks my son asked me this question each time I drove down the road to or from preschool. He would always hastily ask just as we passed the “eyeball in the woods.” I was intrigued and reassured him that I would try to find it next time, but that it was hard to look while I was driving. Yet each time I would apparently just miss it.

Last week, as we were driving home from preschool with another boy from his class strapped into the booster seat next to him, he asked again, “Did you see the eye in the woods?” Well that started a firestorm of panicked questions from his friend in the backseat. “What!? He saw an eyeball in the woods? Where was it? Was it a floating? What color was it? Was it looking at us? Did it see us?” Unbeknownst to me, eyes in the woods are evidently a hot topic with toddler boys.

For the entire ride home I was trying to offer explanations to the little guy about what it could really be…a bent tree branch, a bag that got caught in a tree, or a boulder in the shape of an eye. Yet, for every explanation I offered, my son would reassure both of us there REALLY was a big “eyeball in the woods.” Right then I was kicking myself for not searching out and locating the eyeball the last dozen times we’d passed the woods.

As soon as we walked into the door of his friend’s house, the first thing he said to his mother was, “He saw an eye in the woods!” I’ve got nothing. I can’t even explain. She curiously looked my way and I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. We’ve never spoken of the eyeball again. I have no idea if the little guy is still talking about it or searching the eyeball out in the woods every time he drives down the road with his family. He may be having nightmares about the “eye in the woods” chasing him down the road looking into his window in the middle of the night.

But just the other day as I drove him to preschool, checking to be sure there were no cars behind me, I slowed to a crawl and asked him to show me the “eye in the woods.” I quickly spotted it and the mystery was solved. But I only saw it for a minute, as my eyes filled up with tears as a result of my uncontrollable laughter. At the edge of the road, with the woods looming behind it, was an army green utility box, spray painted with a five foot black eye with rather long eyelashes.

After solving the “eye in the woods” mystery and perhaps scarring a child for life, I needed a drink. A hot cup of coffee with a dash or two or three of kahlua was just what I needed. And these Kahlua and Espresso Biscotti were a perfect treat to accompany it.

 

Kahlua and Espresso Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoon for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ tablespoons instant espresso powder

2 eggs ans 2 egg whites

½ cup Kahlua, plus 1 tablespoon for the topping

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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 espresso powder.

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

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.  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.

6. Mix 1 tablespoon Kahlua and 2 tablespoon sugar. Spread and press the mixture over the logs with your fingers.

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 #64: Paint the ends like an eyeball and hang from the woods in a tree to start your own urban legend.

Gingerbread Biscotti with Vanilla Ginger Penuche Frosting

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Technology. It is supposed to make our lives easier, right? But does it? Does it make us focus more on quantity or quality of life? Does increase stress or reduce stress? It certainly depends on how we interact with technology. I’m not sure it is a debate that is going to find resolution anytime soon. But here’s my take on it.

It is the beginning of the semester and as I venture into the classroom I am surrounded by technology, technology that I am expected to use to my advantage and technology that I am trying to tear students away from for the mere three hours that we find ourselves confined in a classroom with each other, where the expectation is to talk and discuss ideas without word limits, hashtags, and ringtones.

As I do at the beginning of each semester, I hand out the syllabus and watch as they quickly flip through the pages to the assignments, to see what is expected of them throughout the next 15 weeks. I introduce myself and begin to cover the course content and expectations. When I get to the point in the syllabus where I note my contact information, the fun begins.

When I mention the number on the syllabus is my home number, and kindly request that they not use it after 8:00 pm, due to a husband and two small children that go to bed rather early, they snicker. I reassure them that I am a night-owl and more than happy to call them after 8:00, since that is more than likely when they are just sitting down to actually look at what they need to accomplish before their head finds a pillow around 3:00 am.

But I request that in order to assure marital bliss (eh-em) they refrain from calling our house late in the night. Before I issued this warning I was sure to get phone calls in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t ever remember calling my professors at 2:00 am or even thinking it was okay to do so.

So after I deliver my speech about proper teacher-student interaction, one student will inevitably ask, “Can we have your cell number?” To which I respond, “I don’t have one.” Then I smile…and wait for the collective gasp to subside. At which time I always feel like I need to provide some justification so they don’t think we are living in a primitive yurt just outside of town.

We are not technologically backwards. I can boast that we have wireless Internet, we occasionally read books on the Kindle, and we can operate all four remotes that are required to simply watch a DVD. My husband is a systems engineer, although he does have trouble getting the laptop to talk nicely to the printer.  On most days I can operate the AV equipment in the classroom, although there have been plenty of instances where a tech savvy student saved me.

We think we’ve been able to pinpoint our resistance to cell phones on one momentous life experience. When my husband and I live in Japan we climbed Mt. Fuji. It was a grueling climb, which left us both with an altitude headache and spaghetti legs for days. We needed assistance just to climb the 3 steps to get back in the bus taking us to the hotel at the end of the day.

fuji

But at the summit, as we watched airplanes circling below us through the clouds, we realized no one in the world knew where we were or could reach us. It was a freeing feeling that we promised never to give up.

Of course since having kids that attitude has been tempered somewhat. We do have a prepaid cell phone, with minutes that expire before we are ever able to use them. We don’t even know the number.

So I started thinking, maybe we like making biscotti so much because it is simply about using your hands to create something good. No technology involved.

These Gingerbread Biscotti with Vanilla Ginger Penuche Frosting remind me of simpler times.

 

 

Gingerbread Biscotti with Vanilla Ginger Penuche Frosting

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½  cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup finely ground cornmeal

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup molasses

¾ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

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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, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon.

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

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 crystallized ginger. 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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Vanilla Ginger Penuche Frosting

¼ cup butter or 4 tablespoons

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 cup sifted confectioner or powdered sugar

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1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly for 2 minutes.

2. Add cream and salt. Return mixture to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Whisk in ground ginger.

4. Whisk in powdered sugar until completely dissolved. Frost the biscotti while the frosting is warm. The frosting will harden as it cools.

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What to do with the ends #63: Use the ends like a spatula to spread frosting.

Lemon Poppy Seed Biscotti

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There are so many questions around the holidays. Do all reindeer fly? How does Santa get down the chimney? How can he visit every house in the world in only one night? Can we go to the North Pole?

Yet, right now in our house these questions are overwhelmingly about elves.

A few years ago Santa sent us an elf to keep an eye on the kids before Christmas, you know…to report back to Santa if they are bad or good. We named him Inglemauker. Every year since, Inglemauker joins us on the first day of December, returns to the North Pole at the end of every day, and returns each morning until Christmas Eve. Inglemauker is not as naughty as some other elves and rarely gets into trouble, but he finds some ingenious spots to hide in our house.

Our daughter keeps telling our son, “You know Inglemauker is watching.” Then he comes running to us asking if he is going to get “black rocks” for Christmas. My husband and I have a tendency to answer that one differently.

So we thought we would share with you the top 5 questions and conversations we’ve had lately about elves.

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Son: Does Inglemacker fly or poof?

The Baker: That is a very good question.

Son: I think he poofs because it is faster to get back to the North Pole.

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Daughter: Can elves become invisible?

The Baker: I don’t know if that is part of their magical arsenal.

Daughter: What’s an arsenal?

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Daughter: Will Inglemauker die?

The Baker: No. Inglemauker is magical. He and all his elf friends will live forever.

Son: Will Santa die?

The Baker: No. Santa is also magical and will never die.

Daughter: Will Mrs. Clause die?

The Baker: No. She is magical too.

Daughter: Will we die?

The Baker: Yes.

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Daughter: Why do think Inglemauker picked the same place to hide again today?

The Baker: Maybe he loved it there so much he decided to come back today to the same spot.

Daughter: Do you think he likes sitting on the wreath on the door because he likes the ride when we open and close the door?

The Baker: Absolutely!

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Son: What happens if we touch Inglemauker?

The Baker: He would lose all his magical powers, return to the North Pole and we’d never see him again. He could never do his job or visit any other boys and girls.

Son: Would he be sad?

The Baker: Yes.

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inglemauker

Although Inglemauker is a usually a good elf, we did find him with his hand in the biscotti jar. He can’t seem to get enough of these Lemon Poppy Seed Biscotti with Homemade Candied Lemon Peels. 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Biscotti 

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons black poppy seeds

3 eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

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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 poppy seeds.

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

6.  Sprinkle hands with Lemoncello and rub each log. Sprinkle to top of each log with 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 #56: We give Santa cookies and leave carrots for the reindeer, but what about the elves that work all December long? Leave them some ends!

 

Lemon Thyme Biscotti with Pistachios

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I wish I could say the holidays always bring out the best in us. But I’d be lying. There are quite a few things around the holidays that while intended to spread goodwill and cheer, produce more stress and discord. Example…holiday cards. My husband thinks it is a ridiculous tradition and doesn’t understand why we are sending holiday greetings to friends or family that we may not have seen or spoken to at all throughout the year. And, why do the people we see often need a card with our kid’s picture on it, since they already know what they look like. Better yet, he also wonders why we can’t send cards that say “Merry Christmas” or why we can’t simply call it a Christmas card anymore. Yet, every year we still send them.

For this year’s holiday card we took a great photo of the kids angelically playing in the snow. Then I created, ordered, addressed, and stuffed the cards. All I asked is that he seal the envelopes and maybe put on a few stamps. But, that is when the drama usually begins.

Last night we agreed we would finish the process and get the cards in the mail. I walked into the dining room after the kids were in bed and he was waiting for me at the table with a towel spread out in front of him and wet rag in his hand, announcing that he is ready to commence operation holiday cards. He has devised a system for sealing the cards that includes a moist, yet he assured me not too moist, kitchen rag. I am sure when people get our holiday greetings the envelop is stuck to the cards, which are all warped from the amount of water he is slathering on them. When I nonchalantly mention not to wring the rag out on the cards, he retaliates by letting me know that if I was licking all the cards I would probably have a tongue covered in paper cuts and spend the night at Patient First so they could sew me up.

As I was handing him the stuffed envelopes, he told me I needed to toss each one over further to his left so he didn’t have to strain his neck picking them up by reaching across his body.

In an attempt to spread holiday cheer and lift the mood, I casually remind him of the days when we used to have to lick the stamps too. At least now they are self-adhesive. He is less than amused.

So if you are expecting a holiday card from us, know that the kids stamped the return address upside down on most of the cards, my husband thoroughly doused each card with water as he sealed it, and I actually put most of the stamps on upside down. So, we’ve yet again managed to take a holiday tradition intended to bring cheer and turn it into a spectacle.

So after a jolly good time of bonding, laughing at each other and our ridiculously cynical ways, these Lemon Thyme Biscotti with Pistachios were a total stress reliever. We made the lemon thyme sugar a day ahead to let the flavors meld. The roasted and salted pistachios are a perfect complement to the sweet and savory lemon thyme sugar, which also lends a wonderful lemony sweetness to a cup of tea.

 

Lemon Thyme Biscotti with Pistachios

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup lemon thyme sugar (see recipe below)

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 teaspoons Lemoncello

¾ pistachios, roasted and salted

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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 Lemoncello.

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

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Drizzle your hands with Lemoncello. 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. Press the tops with lemon thyme 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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Lemon Thyme Sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

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1. Place sugar, zest, and thyme in food processor for approximately 20 seconds to thoroughly combine. Store in an airtight container.

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What to do with the ends #55: Wet the ends and use them to seal your holidays cards. (Gotcha!)