Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

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Happy New Year!

Along with a new year comes a whole lot of “firsts.” First big snow storm of the year…first baby born in 2014…first day of not being able to find a parking spot at the gym.

Right now, our house is mostly preoccupied with our son prematurely losing his first tooth. Over a year ago, he thought pretending to be a seal while diving off the couch would be a good idea. He has had a black front tooth ever since. A few days ago while I was tickling him on the very same couch, he slid down the side in what was a temporary fit of giggles, only to get his tooth caught on the couch, yanking it loose. With tears and blood streaming down his chin, he started streaming, “Is my black tooth gone?” He hasn’t stopped asking us since.

A quick trip to the dentist reassured us that it will likely fall out and he will remain toothless for quite some time.

He has depleted our tissue supply trying to pull it out and has persuaded my husband to attempt the same. I think he knows better than to ask me. I cringe at the idea.

Along the lines of “firsts,” these Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti were the first we made in our tiny kitchen many years ago. With my father-in-law looking on, trying to offer his sage advice, and me mostly ignoring him, they were a very mediocre oddly shaped batch of biscotti. I’d say over the years we’ve improved immensely. The traditional combination of cranberries and pistachios, which mimic not only Christmas colors but those of the Italian flag as well, are hard to beat.

 

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti 

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

½ teaspoon cranberry flavored oil (We used LorAnn Oils.)

½ cup shelled pistachios

1 cup dried cranberries

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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 cranberry flavored 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 pistachios and cranberries. 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. Press tops 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 #61: Tuck the ends inside the Christmas tree at the curb to create a food maze for the squirrels.

Sambuca Biscotti with Pomogranate and Cherry Infused Cranberries

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It was 8:00 am Thanksgiving morning. My husband looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you aren’t blogging about this right now,” as he slid on his coat in his parents’ living room and bundled up to go out into the cold with his 80 year-old father who is an insanely compulsive bargain shopper. Apparently the four pounds of Italian sausage he bought us to take back to Maryland is not enough, because they are headed to Golden Dawn to buy some more. He swears this sausage is the best, with tons of garlic and like nothing we have in Maryland. But I think the real draw is that it is on sale for $2.19 a pound.

Our road trip to see family for the Thanksgiving holiday was relatively uneventful, although the weather was a bit treacherous. The first five hours were in driving rain. The last portion of the trip, which should have taken only a hour, took two due to a blinding snowstorm. We left earlier than we planned to in order to avoid the worst of it, but caught the beginning edge of the storm. There were 5 minutes of terror. My husband went “off road,” during which time my daughter screamed, and we abruptly asked everyone to be quiet for a few minutes so dad could concentrate. Our son was in the back yelling “Woo hoo! Do it again dad!” I was gripping the door with incredible force hoping we could make the last few miles. Overall not a bad trip. The best part was that we woke up to almost a foot of snow, which was ideal for snow forts, snowball fights, snowmen, and maple syrup snow cones.

As has become the tradition, my nephew and I run the Gobble Wobble 5K on Thanksgiving morning. This year my niece joined us as well. It was a mere 13 degrees when we woke up, with a wind-chill of 6 at race time. As we skimmed over a roadway covered with ice and a thin blanket of drifting snow, we were just hoping to finish without slipping, causing a pileup, and ending up in a full-body cast. As usual, my nephew was far, far in front of me. My brother’s sister-in-law, who had spent the night working and hadn’t slept in at least 24 hours, was also ahead of me. But, since this was her first race, my niece and I decided to run together. She was spectacular! But I jealously noted at the finish line that there was not one bead of sweet on her brow. I am quite sure even without a day of training, she too could have finished way ahead of me.

While we were running the race, my husband decided it was too cold this year to bring the kids to cheer us on. So instead, they had a parade in the living room. With the Macy’s Day parade on the television, he gave each of them a brown paper bag and every time the kids saw a balloon, he would throw candy at them as if they were on the parade route. They loved it! And, now they have a bag of candy for the road trip home to Maryland. There is nothing like a six hour road trip with two kids on a sugar high singing Kidz Bop songs over and over again, strapped into booster chairs in a back seat that at times isn’t big enough for the two of them.

Later in the afternoon and starving, I walked into the kitchen to see four adults standing around a turkey in a bag in a roasting pan, still in the oven. They were bewildered at the fact that the thermometer for the turkey was not working. After my mother-in-law mentioned that it was brand-new and there was no reason it shouldn’t work, they still couldn’t figure out why the temperature wasn’t changing from 145 degrees. Until…wait for it…one of them brilliantly notices the sticker which reads “145 degrees” is still adhered to screen of the digital thermometer. Thankfully the bird had reached its ideal temperature and was sanctioned safe to eat. Dinner was served.

So, while we were waiting for the Steeler’s and Raven’s game to start, all there was left to do was make some biscotti, after we made a woven potholder and assembled a Lego airplane, which was later used to deliver biscotti. With a bottle of Sambuca, an Italian anise-flavored liqueur, in hand we got started.  As we foraged through my father-in-laws’s bargain packed shelves, we all decided if the end of the world is ever in site, dozens of us could live off what papa has stashed in the basement pantry. We found a bag of pomegranate and cherry juice infused cranberries and thought they would be the perfect holiday compliment to the Sambuca. My husband, who loves to rank things like friends and biscotti, told me these were among the top five we’ve ever made. He has eaten his fair share of biscotti, so we think we hit the nail on the head with this one. Enjoy!

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Sambuca Biscotti with Pomegranate and Cherry Infused Cranberries

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 1 egg white

3 tablespoons Sambuca

1 cup pomegranate and cherry juice infused cranberries (or other dried fruit)

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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, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, and Sambuca.

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 cranberries. 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. Drizzles hands with Sambuca and rub the top of each log. Sprinkle with sugar and press into the logs.

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 #51: Use the ends as cargo.

 

Grand Marnier Biscotti with Dried Cranberries and Almonds

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Cranberry relish. For me it conjures images of a scarlet can-shaped jelly substance sliced in thick circles, lying and shimmering on a plate in the center of the table, jiggling as everyone jostles to find their seats for Thanksgiving dinner. At the adult table that is, because those of us seated at the kid’s table would never touch the stuff.

As we got older and became responsible for creating our own Thanksgiving feasts, we simply omitted the cranberry sauce. We’ve roasted 20 pound birds, created moist seasoned stuffing from scratch, and served up pies that were perfectly and not so perfectly set. Yet cranberry sauce was nowhere to be found.

It wasn’t until years later that we came across a recipe for fresh cranberry relish that incorporates oranges, apples, pineapples, and Grand Marnier that we reconsidered adding it to our holiday menu. Really, what fruit doesn’t taste better soaked in booze! Now, I make it every time we have turkey, Thanksgiving or not.

While pumpkin pie is still a staple Thanksgiving dessert in our house, these Grand Marnier Biscotti with Dried Cranberries and Almonds also find their way to our dessert table every year. On a holiday that is really all about food, no one should be limited to just one dessert!

 

Grand Marnier Biscotti with Dried Cranberries and Almonds

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

zest of one orange

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup dried cranberries

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, sugars, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, orange zest, Grand Mariner, 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 cranberries and 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. Sprinkle the top of each log with Grand Marnier and spread with hands. Sprinkle the tops 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 #49: Stuff the turkey with the ends rather than traditional stuffing.

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seed Biscotti with Orange Cranberries

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While I was watching a recent episode of The Cupcake Wars, ironically peddling away on the elliptical nonetheless, while one of the bakers was frantically wondering why her cupcakes weren’t rising in the oven. You’ve seen it before. You could have heard the ding, as the light went off in her head when she realized in all the pandemonium and confusion she forgot to add the baking powder. She starts preparing another batch, all the while bemoaning the fact that one ingredient, baking powder, may have just cost her $10,000. Boy I am glad I don’t bake under pressure like that. (She wins by the way.)

While I’m no Alton Brown, we do talk in the kitchen about why we add this ingredient or that when we bake. Just the other day, our daughter asked, “what would happen if we left out the baking powder?” We talked about the fact that the biscotti wouldn’t rise and the little air holes that we see in the biscotti after we slice them wouldn’t be there. The biscotti would be more dense. I promised her an experiment and that we’d make our next batch without it. Afterall, as Emerson once said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” We couldn’t agree more. And that is exactly what we did with these Honey Roasted Sunflower Seed Biscotti with Orange Cranberries.

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You can see the difference in size and density without the baking powder.

 

We may have left the bowl of Halloween candy on the table a little too long. So yesterday we finally tucked all the sweet treats away to be slowly doled out throughout the year. We need something a little healthier around here to snack on. So with plenty of homemade honey and cinnamon roasted sunflower seeds to satisfy our sweet tooth (the recipe is below), we decided to incorporate these tasty treasures into a biscotti. We used some barley flour to keep the biscotti from getting too crunchy, made three logs to keep them small for little hands, and of course left out the baking powder. I think we are finally coming down from the sugar rush.

 

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seed Biscotti with Orange Cranberries

YIELD: approximately two dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

¼ cup barley flour

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons wheat germ

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons chai seeds (black or white)

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon orange extract

zest of one orange

¼ cup agave

½ cup orange flavored dried cranberries

1 cup honey roasted sunflower seeds (recipe below)

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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, salt, wheat germ, flaxseed, chai seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon.

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

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 cranberries and sunflower seeds. 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 slightly as it bakes.

7. Drizzle the top of each log with agave and sprinkle with brown sugar. Use your fingers to rub the mixture over the top and sides 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.

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds

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¼ cup honey

½ tablespoon agave

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups shelled raw sunflower seeds

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1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Heat the honey agave, oil, salt, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for about 1 minute.

3. Remove from heat and stir in sunflower seeds until the seeds are completely coated.

4. Spread the sunflower seeds in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. The seeds will harden like a brittle.

7. Break off chucks to snack on. Store in an airtight container.

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What to do with the ends #46: Use the ends as mustaches in your next family photo.