Oatmeal Raisin Biscotti

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My father was a sleepwalker. We once found him in his pajamas in the snowy backyard in the middle of the winter.

My father was also a sleepeater. He would wake up in the morning with crumbs in his beard and not remember how they got there.

On occasion he would sleepwalk to the kitchen where he would sleepeat copious amounts of cookies. My mother would hide the cookies, chocolate chip, Oreos, or oatmeal raisin, but he would always find them. I always wondered, was he really asleep or just in the mood for a midnight snack? The next morning when we confronted him about the disappearing cookies, he would always laugh and proclaim his innocence.

There are plenty of recipes for oatmeal cookies. However, my Great Aunt Mary’s Big Softies, out of this world oatmeal raisin cookies, were a childhood favorite of mine. That was if dad didn’t eat them all. My dad’s aunt, a woman who valued refined penmanship and good conversation, grew up in the midwest and lived most of her life in Des Moines, Iowa. Living so far away, we didn’t get to sample all the home cooking she was well-known for, but we certainly gobbled up plenty of her Big Softies. I’m sure it is the cup of shortening in the recipe which leaves a layer of slickness on the roof of your mouth that makes them so delicious. Big Softies are moist, puffy, and flavorful. They never lasted long in our house.

Inspired by Great Aunt Mary’s Big Softies, these Oatmeal Raisin Biscotti, a healthier yet just as flavorful version bring back childhood memories for me while creating new memories with our kids. We usually dip these still warm into a big cup of cold milk.

Just in case you are feeling like an adventurous eater, I’ve also included Great Aunt Mary’s recipe for Big Softies at the end of this post. Enjoy!

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Oatmeal Raisin Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

½ cup ground walnuts

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 heaping cup raisins

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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, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flaxseed, and walnuts.

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 raisins 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 #34: Break off chunks of the ends to mark your bingo card.

Aunt Mary

Great Aunt Mary on her 97th birthday.

Big Softies

½ cup boiling water

1 cup raisins

1 ½ cup flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ cup old fashioned oats

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup shortening

2 eggs

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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour the boiling water over the raisins and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the raisins and reserve ¼ cup of the liquid.

3. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a large bowl.

4. Add the shortening, sugar, eggs, and reserved liquid. Beat until the mixture comes together, about 2 minutes.

5. Stir in the raisins and oats. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.

6. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a non-stick cookie sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch. Cool on cooling racks.