Tropical Fruit Biscotti

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I’m historically challenged. Some parents worry about what they are going to do when their kids come to them for math help. I worry about what I am going to do when my kids come to me for help with dates, timelines, and events of historical significance. I don’t know what year the Titanic sank, when the Vietnam War started, or how old John F. Kennedy was when he died.

Thankfully my husband has wonderful recall when it comes to significant dates.  There used to be an evening news show, Dateline or Frontline or something, with a segment called “What year was it?” A question would be posed, “what year did the color TV make it into American households” or “what year did Sears start selling sewing machines,” and three potential years would be listed. I missed it every time. He got it right ever time.

Do you remember where you were ten years ago today? I’m horrible at answering questions like that as well. I can barely remember where I was last week or even yesterday, let alone ten years ago.

However, I got a call last week from a friend who asked me this very question. I froze. Thankfully he took pity on me and didn’t let me flounder for long. Ten years ago that very day we were docking in Cuba with the Semester at Sea Program. As the assistant dean, I was getting ready to deliver our first pre-port orientation, and as the ship photographer, he was getting ready to record the start of our adventure. Later that evening, we found ourselves sipping rum laced drinks at the Tropicana in Havana, mesmerized by the whirl of scantily clad dancers on a brightly lit stage enclosed by a canopy of trees that rustled in a gusty evening breeze…which, if we weren’t enjoying ourselves so much would have realized was an impending storm front. Within minutes of taking the photo below, in a sudden downpour we joined several hundred college students sprinting to the buses ready to take us back to the ship.

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Havana was our first port of call on our adventure to circumvent the globe. We spent five days exploring Cuba, learning about the educational system, witnessing visionary artists and craftsman at work, and sharing fabulous food with new friends. We met many amazing and interesting people carving out lives in ways we had not imagined, full of determination and joy.

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These Tropical Fruit Biscotti remind me of warm weather, good friends, and new beginnings.

Tropical Fruit Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 eggs and 1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons dark rum

¼ heaping cup of diced pineapple

¼ heaping cup of diced mango

¼ heaping cup of diced kiwi

½ cup of diced papaya

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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, salt, coconut.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, vanilla extract, and rum.

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 pineapple, mango, kiwi, and papaya. 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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What to do with the ends #65: Use the ends as barter.

 

Chili Spiced Mango Biscotti with Chili Flavored Dark Chocolate and Homemade Chipotle Almonds

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Since the weather is getting colder, I suggested making some chili for dinner. My husband winced, looked at me with a fake smile, and took a deep breath before he blurted out, “I don’t really like your chili.” Then he stopped breathing, waiting for what was coming next. He knows I am passionate about food. However, little did he know that chili doesn’t fall into that category. I took no offense and wondered instead why he had been silent for so long. Who eats something they don’t enjoy for 17 years without saying anything?

If I wanted to learn how to make a perfectly hearty bowl of chili, I certainly could have looked into that over the years. Yet, to me chili was always one of those dishes where we used up whatever onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc. we had on hand, a last-minute meal thrown together in the winter in order to avoid a trip to the grocery store. I never really gave it any thought. I browned some ground beef, threw in a packet of McCormick Chili Mix, and called it a day.

Over the years my husband brought home recipes for chili that his coworkers brought to their “pig-ins.” They incorporated venison, bison, or some other ingredient that required a scavenger hunt of local grocery stores or butchers.

So with the new-found realization that my chili lacked luster I sent out an S.O.S., asking family and friends for any chili recipes worth sharing. My cry was answered by a high school friend who read me his infamous chili recipe in a hushed voice over the phone. While I had hoped to share it with you here, I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Yet I can tell you it calls for over 25 ingredients and most certainly requires a trip to the grocery store. But, it is definitely worth it.

The best part is that after browning the meat, only two kinds and neither are bison or venison, you put it in the crock-pot until you are ready to eat. There are very few things that I make successfully in a crock-pot, but this was a winner. Everyone loved it and we’ve added it to our rotation of comfort foods to keep us warm in the winter months. I’d say we have a new family favorite.

Since we conquered chili, we thought we should move onto other chili inspired creations. These Chili Spiced Mango Biscotti with Chili Flavored Dark Chocolate and Homemade Chipotle Flavored Almonds are a perfect dessert to share after finishing your next steamy bowl of chili. They are a wonderful balance of sweet, smokey, and salty. We found the Chili Spiced Mangoes at Trader Joe’s and used a recipe from Party Nuts! to make the almonds. There are plenty of almonds left for snacking too. We placed the chili flavored dark chocolate in a plastic bag and handed our son a meat tenderizer to crush the chocolate and release his aggression.

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Chili Spiced Mango Biscotti with Chili Flavored Dark Chocolate and Homemade Chipotle Almonds 

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 eggs

½ teaspoon mango flavored oil

½ heaping cup diced chili spiced mango

¼ cup crushed chili flavored dark chocolate

½ cup salt and chipotle flavored 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, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and mango 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 mangoes, dark chocolate, 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.  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 #41: Crumble the ends in your next bowl of chili instead of saltines or oyster crackers.

Mango and Almond Biscotti with Chai Seeds

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Mangoes are like books. You don’t really know how good they are until you open them.

At the bookstore, you pick a book off the shelf if you are intrigued by the cover or title. You check out the photos, read a page or two, and flip through it. You take it to the register and hope it’s a good read.

At the grocery store, you pick a mango off the shelf if you think it looks ripe or flavorful. You turn it over in your hands, squeeze it, and smell it. You take it to the register and hope it’s a juicy treat.

But it’s not until you crack open that new book or cut into that mango that you realize whether you made a mistake or picked the right one. With dried mangoes, there is no guesswork and you are a winner every time.

Our son loves dried mangoes. He would eat them until he made himself sick if we let him. More times than not, when the two of us go to the store we end up with dried mangoes in the cart and he’s eating them before we are out the door. So one very rainy afternoon, we decided to experiment and create an energizer biscotti, which included not only mango, but almonds, chai seeds, flaxseed, and wheat germ. Good for you and delicious!

 

Mango and Almond Biscotti with Chai Seeds

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ cup almond meal

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chai seeds

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons wheat germ

3 eggs

¼ cup agave nectar, plus more for drizzling on top

2 teaspoons mango flavored oil

1 cup chopped dried mango

½ cup whole 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, almond meal, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, chai seeds, flaxseed, and wheat germ.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave, and mango 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 mango 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. Drizzle the tops with agave and spread to coat with your fingers.

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 #38: Cover the ends with peanut butter, roll in bird seed, and hang in a tree. Instant bird feeder!