Christmas is over. Inglemauker, our elf, has returned to his family at the North Pole. Our stockings are folded and packed away for next year. And, our Christmas tree is losing its pine needles all over the living room floor.
The kids opened and are enjoying their gifts. Our son has been through three sets of batteries in his remote control fire truck, which he paraded around the neighborhood Christmas day at a snail-like pace, spraying the neighbor’s mailboxes to put out random fires we found on our travels. Our daughter went straight for the bag of books we traditionally give the kids each year, commenting on whether each book was a family favorite and relishing the new books she can’t wait to read.
And Big Biscotti Bake received its first piece of custom artwork by a local, yet somewhat undiscovered, artist. Thank you! We love it and will prominently display it, always thankful to have such inspiring people in our lives.
Soon we will take down the lights outside, pull the tree to the curb, and pack away the decorations. Our house will return to whatever normalcy we can manage.
When I was a kid there was one thing that always outlasted the holidays. Every year well before Christmas, my parents would put out a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker. That little pick that comes with the nutcracker was always carefully hidden away because I am quite sure my parents thought we would accidentally poke our eyes out with it. My brother and I were always ready to crack a nut for anyone who requested one. But we were not always strong enough, grunting like Olympic weight lifters and often handing over the nutcracker to the closest adult after conceding our defeat. Eventually we got strong enough, but by then the nutcracker lost its appeal and bags of already cracked nuts were more common on grocery store shelves. Even then I loved the almonds best.
So as a nod to family tradition, we made these Nutty Biscotti with four of our favorites, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews. Sometimes we spoon melted dark chocolate over half of these biscotti, but they are perfectly delicious on their own.
YIELD: approximately two dozen
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½cup almond meal
¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup roasted walnut pieces, roughly chopped
½ cup whole roasted almonds
½cup roasted and salted pistachios
½ cup roasted cashews
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, almond meal, cornmeal, 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 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.
What to do with the ends #60: Use the ends to crack nuts.