Orange Fig Cocoa Biscotti

Orange Fig Coca Biscotti 3

It was one of those rare evenings that we had no place to be and no homework to do. “Who wants to make biscotti?” I was met with a chorus of “I do!”

As little hands helped transport the ingredients via step ladders that were somehow turned into makeshift carts, we talked about how long it had been since we’d made biscotti. We’ve been busy. Perhaps too busy. We talked about how this year, our daughter’s first year in school, has been a learning experience in time management for all of us. We are looking forward to slowing things down a bit. For the first time I heard our daughter say, “I just haven’t had time to do it.”

In our culture we view time as a commodity. We can spend time, save time, and waste time. Lately we spend our time running from one activity to another, hurrying our way through the day. Lately we try to save time by dividing and conquering, trying to get an extra hour or two out of the day. Although I wrestle with the idea of wasted time, I’m not sure we’ve wasted any lately.

Time is precious. And what better to do with precious time than spend it in the kitchen with our little bakers.

A jar of fig and cocoa spread was sitting on our counter for quite some time, so we used it as our inspiration. We ran out of dark cocoa powder, so I used some regular cocoa powder. However, if you really enjoy chocolate hunt for a good quality dark cocoa powder. We used cocoa nibs in these for the same reason. While there was some debate about the figs, apparently our daughter loves them and our son refuses to try them, and some debate about adding the orange extract, we comprised (actually I just finally decided otherwise we’d be baking until midnight before an amicable agreement could have been reached) and added both. Rather than dunking these Orange Fig Cocoa Biscotti, we slathered them with fig and cocoa spread. Delicious!

As they always do, the two of them wanted to make their own biscotti. Our son wanted to make a starfish. We shaped five little balls, rolled them out, and then pieced them together in the middle.

starfish

Our daughter wanted to make a three-dimensional figure, which the rest of us immediately thought looked like a pile of dog poop. To each her own. It is her masterpiece and she is quite proud of it. However, she hasn’t eaten it yet.

poop

We have 15 days of school left. We are looking forward to a little more free time, which means more time for biscotti! And other things of course.

 

Orange Fig Cocoa Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 eggs and 2 egg whites, save the egg yolks for the topping

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

zest of 1 orange

15 dried mission figs or about 1 cup chopped

¼ cup cocoa nibs

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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 cocoa.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, extracts, and orange 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.  Add the figs and cocoa nibs. 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. In a small bowl, whisk together the two remaining eff yolks and brush on the top of each log. Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on the top 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.

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What to do with the ends #77: Use the ends to create a sundial to tell time.

Earl Grey Biscotti with Almonds and Homemade Candied Orange Peels

earl grey 6

Fall is in full swing and the season of hot beverages is upon us. We usually stick to the traditional hot cocoa, warm apple cider, coffee, and tea. But recently we started looking for other hot drinks to warm our hands after those increasingly chilly walks home from school.  We stumbled upon some more outlandish drinks like Bubblin’ Hot Swamp Juice, Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate, and Melted Ice Cream Cocoa. We never realized how many different kinds of cider there are, including Buttered Orange Cider, Apple Cranberry Cider, and Spiked Wassail. Some obviously more kid-friendly than others. We need to start experimenting.

Grandma was just here for a visit and her favorite hot drink is Earl Grey tea. So we made her some Early Grey Biscotti with Almonds and Homemade Candied Orange Peels. We used the recipe for candied orange peels in Dolci: Italy’s Sweets. We incorporated the tea not only in the dough, but we combined the contents of one tea bag with a tablespoon of sugar and pressed it on top of each log. Not only does it become highly aromatic as the biscotti bakes, but the tops look extra special dotted with little dark flecks of tea.

 

Earl Grey Biscotti with Almonds and Candied Orange Peels

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons of earl grey tea or the contents of approximately 10 earl grey tea bags, plus one more tea bag for the topping

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 heaping cup chopped of candied orange peels

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, sugar, baking powder,  salt, and tea.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract, and orange 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 dried candied orange peels 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. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and the content of one tea bag. Press the mixture on top 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.

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What to do with the ends #39: Grate the ends with a box grater and saute in some butter to create a crumbly topping perfect for adding a little crunchy sweetness to a big bowl of ice cream or the top of cupcakes.

 

Spiced Mandarin Oolong Biscotti

morange 4

Our kids love mandarin oranges. Freshly peeled by their own little hands or served from a can, our two love them either way.

I don’t remember eating mandarin oranges much as a kid, but my husband and I ate plenty in Japan. 

Living in northern Japan, every fall you be certain of three things. One, it was raining sideways and it was cold, very cold. And the hot springs were warm, thankfully very warm. Two, the country roads around Lake Towada were jammed with cars on leisurely drives to look at the leaves bursting with amazingly vivid yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. Three, in every house you visited would be a steaming hot pot of oolong tea and a bowl of mandarin oranges in the center of the table for everyone to share. More often than not it turned into a contest to see who could peel the entire orange in one piece.

We had many generous friends who made our experience in Japan memorable. The combination of oolong tea and mandarin oranges (or mikans in Japanese) will always remind us of the many cold, rainy afternoons we spent huddled with toes tucked under a toasty kotatsu and our fingers curled around a steaming cup of tea, learning more about a place and traditions we look forward to sharing with our kids some day.

For these Spiced Mandarin Oolong Biscotti, we used dried mandarin oranges we found on a recent trip to Trader Joe’s. We bought two bags because I had a feeling one would not be enough. And I was right. The kids finished a bag before we got home and then I hid the other one. While the mandarin oranges are deliciously tangy on their own, they lend a fruity sweetness to the backdrop of these spiced oolong infused biscotti. When we kneaded these biscotti, instead of dusting our hands with flour, we drizzled them with Orangecello to keep the dough from sticking and to add a bit more orange flavor.

 

Spiced Mandarin Oolong Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons ground spiced oolong tea (We used Teavana’s Spiced Mandarin Oolong tea and ground it in a coffee grinder.)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon orange extract

½ cup chopped dried mandarin oranges (Trader Joe’s)

Orangecello

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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 tea.

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

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Drizzle your hands with Orangecello and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the mandarin oranges 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. Brush the tops with Orangecello and sprinkle 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 #36: Use the ends instead of graham crackers to make smores.

 

Orange Chocolate Biscotti

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Some people will say biscotti are too involved, too much work, or too time consuming. However, the thing that we like about baking biscotti is that they do take time, which allows us to do other things while creating masterpieces. Some times more than others we exhibit shorter attention spans in our house, which is a great time to make biscotti. We can mix, shape, and bake our biscotti and then take time to go for a bike ride, read a few books, or ponder whether or not a cherry tree will grow in our belly if we swallow the cherry pit. When we have time, we bake them again. Then we play monster, match the clean socks in the laundry, or ponder whether or not a watermelon vine will grow out our ears if we swallow a watermelon seed. When we have time, we finish the biscotti with melted chocolate, glazes, or some other sweet topping. Then we talk about whether or not we will turn into biscotti from eating too many biscotti. The consensus in our house is a definite “no.” Although I am always quick to ask what type of biscotti the kids would want to be if they could be any flavor. I am always looking for our next experiment. 

Baking biscotti is not like hosting a dinner party where you are constantly reminded to prepare as much as you can ahead of time so that you can enjoy your company, keeping everyone out of the kitchen. Baking biscotti is all about getting everyone in the kitchen and involved in the creative process. A friend came over last weekend so we could do a little catching up and a little biscotti baking. She was a biscotti virgin so we perused the Biscotti Bin and she decided on Orange Chocolate Biscotti. Every bite of these biscotti were fabulous! As she said, “I think I missed my calling,” and I couldn’t agree more. It is her creative vision, but she agreed to let me share it. I later found out that although she intended to share them with her co-workers, the batch didn’t quite make it through the weekend. That’s how good these biscotti are! We topped some with melted chocolate and candied orange peels and drizzled others with an orange glaze (recipe follows).

Orange Chocolate Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup 100% dark cocoa powder

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 ½ teaspoon orange extract

½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

¾ cup candied orange peels

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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 cocoa powder.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites (save the two reamaining yolks to top the logs before baking), and orange 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 chocolate chips and orange peels, kneading 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. Whisk together the two remaining egg yolks. Brush the top of the logs with the egg wash and sprinkle 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.

10. Dip in melted chocolate and sprinkle with candied orange peels or drizzle with an orange glaze (mix 1 cup powered sugar with 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate or freshly squeezed orange juice).

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What to do with the ends #19: Arrange the ends as an obstacle course for remote control cars.

Orange Lavender Biscotti

 

Our daughter is the animal lover among us. Her curiosity about creatures big and small is unbounded. She is specifically concerned about what animals feel, especially as we are eating them which makes for interesting dinner table conversations. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I don’t know how a crab feels when you put it into a pot of boiling water. I’ve never talked to a crab.” Yet, she is deathly afraid of bees. She runs in the house screaming, all the while I am imaging someone lost an eye or a bear devoured a small child in the backyard.

Praying mantises, ants, lady bugs, and butterflies are her friends. She will rescue any stink bug we find in the house and “send it back outside to its family.” We’ve pulled up chairs in the driveway and held vigils for partially crushed caterpillars. Just this morning she picked up a cicada we found on the sidewalk and moved it onto the grass so no one would step on it. Although in all honesty it wasn’t moving and I am quite sure it was already “unhealthy.”

We are all about facing our fears through desensitizing. One day when our daughter was very young, she was running down the hall and noticed the dust bunnies following in her wake. She thought they were alive. She started running faster, which of course made the dust bunnies move faster. Soon the dust bunnies were on her heels and she was a screaming lunatic. Once we all calmed down, we had a chat about the fact that mommy doesn’t always vacuum the floors as often as she should. Then the two of us came up with a plan. We went around the house collecting as many dust bunnies as we could find and put them in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. She seemed to feel better once she knew they were confined. For several months after that, she continued to pick up dust bunnies from under beds or behind doors and add them to her collection. Once word of our plight go out, a few people send us dryer lint and bundles of dust bunnies. While she is older and no longer afraid of these furry looking tumbleweeds, the dust bunny collection still sits in a plastic container on her shelf, as if she is waiting for it to wink at her as she knew it always would.

So in the same vein, when her fear of bees surfaced we decided to learn as much as we could about bees. We took a trip to the local nature center, where they have an active bee hive on display. We talked about all the ways that bees pollinate plants and flowers. We read books. And I mentioned that those flavored honey sticks she loves so much would not be possible without bees. So as part of our desensitizing, we decided to make some of our own flavored honey, inspired by the recipe for lavender honey in the book, Edible DIY by Lucy Baker. The honey was so good, we decided we also needed biscotti to dip in it.

lavendar 4

Orange Lavender Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups flour

¼ cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons dried lavender buds

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

½ and ¼ teaspoon orange extract 

zest of one orange

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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, and lavender.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, and orange 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. Mix 1/4 teaspoon orange extract and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl. With your fingers, firmly press and spread the mixture on top of the logs.

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 #15: Use the ends as golf tees.