Nutty Bitters Biscotti

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Cravings: eager desire or yearning.

We all have them, food addictions or cravings.

Some cravings are constant. For example, I can’t see tiramisu without my mouth-watering and I can think of nothing else until I have some. So why torment myself? And I crave my coffee in the morning. Without it, I’m useless.

Some cravings come and go. Like a favorite dish at a restaurant or ice cream during the warm summer months. Maybe it’s some weird food during a pregnancy or perhaps it’s the undeniable urge for salty snacks.

Maybe it’s not what you eat but when you eat. Maybe late-night food cravings drive you to pillage through the cupboards while everyone else is asleep.

Right now we are addicted to Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts, from Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all.

These nuts are amazing, best served warm, and the entire four cups never last more than two days in our house. I fear we may all actually turn into nuts at the rate we are shoveling these into our mouths, just like Burger Boy who will only eat burgers, eventually turns into a burger, and is chased all over town by people who want to eat him. I wonder who would want to eat us if we turned into nuts? We have plenty of squirrels in the backyard…I think that is a children’s book just waiting to be written.

While these nuts taste good on their own, we thought they might taste just as good in biscotti spiced with some additional Bitters and rosemary. We were right!

Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

4 cups unsalted and raw nuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, and walnuts

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (We used dried rosemary, cut and sifted.)

1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (We used only half this amount to keep it tolerable for the kids.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Angostura bitters

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

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1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes (shake the nuts around on the pan halfway through.)

3. Combine the brown sugar, butter, rosemary, cayenne, cinnamon, honey and bitters in a large bowl.

4. Add the nuts to the bowl and mix thoroughly so they’re nicely coated.

5. Add the salt and mix again.

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Nutty Bitters Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

1  ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons dried rosemary, cut and sifted

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon Bitters

1 teaspoon Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

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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 rosemary.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and Bitters.

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 Spiced Bitter Bar 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.

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What to do with the ends # 83: Keep them in a bag, close at hand, and hide them to satisfy your next craving!

Fig Biscotti with Ground Pecans

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(I wrote this post quite sometime ago, as those of you familiar with the pig spit drama will know, but just realized I never posted it.)

I often joke with my husband that we should start a blog with the tagline, “Our Life in Bumper Stickers”, outlining all the crazy one liners that we hear on a daily basis. One liners that, on a bumper sticker and out of context, would have people scratching their heads. On a recent road trip here are a few that the kids uttered that we thought would qualify. “Can I see if I color my eye?” “Can I be dead then?” and “Read or you’re going to jail!”

My husband and I found ourselves alone for a few hours this past Friday afternoon. Our daughter was in school. Our son was napping. My husband was home from work to oversee the construction of a fire pit for our newly acquired pig spit. That is another story all together. So, with an afternoon ahead of us he hinted at some “private” time while I asked if he wanted to bake biscotti. He told me that should be on a bumper sticker. The biscotti won out. I’m not sure what that says about us as a couple.

Although the kids and I have experimented and made hundreds of different biscotti, my husband serves only as the in-house taste-tester. He has never made biscotti.  We (me actually) thought it would fun for him to try his hand at making biscotti.

While he chopped figs, I asked if he wanted this or that in the bowl, then measured and mixed the ingredients. Then I kneaded the biscotti. He added the figs. I kneaded some more. Then I shaped the logs. He made an egg wash and then added a thick layer of sugar on top.

And since they are technically “his” biscotti, he wanted them baked only once to keep them soft. We made them yesterday. One of the biscotti logs is still sitting on the cooling rack on the counter. I’m not sure what he plans to do with it next. I took the other and sliced it extra thin and twice baked the biscotti. I figured I did half the work, I am entitled to half the end product. I think he is more of a visionary than an implementation kind of guy. But “his” biscotti are delicious.

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Fig Biscotti with Ground Pecans

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the topping

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ cup ground pecans

3 eggs, plus 1 egg white for the topping

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped dried figs

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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, nutmeg, and pecans.

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 figs. 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. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl and brush on the top of each log. Sprinkle a very generous amount of sugar all over the tops.

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 #72: Use the ends as fire starters for your next pig roast.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Biscotti with Butter Toasted Pecans

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“Everybody’s a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We’re all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos.” This quote by David Cronenberg accurately described our day, particularly the madness and chaos part. Schools were closed due to “inclement weather.” Inclement, with regards to weather, is defined as severe, rough, or harsh. As I looked out the window this morning, I didn’t particularly notice any weather matching that description. We’ve lived in our fair share of cold weather cities, Chicago, Anchorage, Pittsburgh, and Misawa in northern Japan, where we would get up to three feet of snow overnight. Yet each of these cities knew how to handle the accumulating snow, ice encrusted roads, and slippery sidewalks. We’ve spent winters driving with chains on our tires, thankful to have them in the snow and cursing the clickety sounds they made on the roadways without it.

As mad scientists in our kitchen lab, our daughter and I first experimented with Milk Duds a few years ago. Milk Duds were and remain her favorite candy. We added them to the biscotti dough whole. Yet, as we pulled the biscotti out of the oven after the second bake, we noticed that most of the caramel inside the Milk Duds had seeped out, riveting the biscotti with little chocolate craters. Although they tasted good, half of them fell apart. We knew we’d try again someday.

While these Salted Caramel and Chocolate Biscotti with Butter Toasted Pecans aren’t studded with Milk Duds, the combination of caramel and chocolate is a classic. The salted caramel sugar we used in this recipe is from The Spice and Tea Exchange. However, you could always use 1 cup of granulated sugar and replace the vanilla extract with caramel extract. When we kneaded in the sea salt caramels, it created ribbons of chocolate and caramel throughout the dough. We simply melted some more of the mini sea salt caramels into a thick paste that we slathered on top before sprinkling each with some chopped butter toasted pecans. While our Milk Dud experiment was literally a dud, our daughter and I both think our attempts to fend off the madness and chaos today were well worth it. We are expecting more “inclement weather” tomorrow, so I expect the madness and chaos may hang around for a bit.

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Salted Caramel and Chocolate Biscotti with Butter Toasted Pecans

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup mini sea salt caramels, plus ½ cup for the topping

¼ cup butter toasted pecans, roughly chopped

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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 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 sea salt caramels. 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.

9. Put the remaining ½ cup of the sea salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds and stir. Continue microwaving for 15 seconds until the caramels turn into a paste, similar to the consistency of butter. With a small spatula, spread the chocolate and caramel mixture on the top of each biscotti and sprinkle with the pecans.

10. Transfer the biscotti to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.

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What to do with the ends #54: Use the end as a conductor’s wand.

 

 

Mulberry Pecan Biscotti

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Every once in a while you get a tune stuck in your head that you just can’t shake. Right now, “Treasure” by Bruno Mars is on my mind when I wake up and when I go to sleep. The kids run around the house with their toothbrushes belting out the lyrics at an alarming pitch. We’re now quite sure there are no musical prodigies among us. There was that carpet commercial with the telephone number put to music that would have us all singing the jingle along with the television like classically conditioned Pavlov’s dogs. When the kids were younger and we were listening to a barrage of toddler tune cds, it was “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” that stuck in our head.

We have a mulberry tree in the backyard. Technically it’s in the neighbor’s yard, but they never eat the berries so we pilfer them. The mulberries are gone by the end of June, but when the tree is filled with those little deep purple treats, the kids enjoy dragging the bathroom step stool out the door and through the backyard, where we spend at least 10 minutes finding a level spot and debating where we should put it in order to pick the best berries. What the kids don’t pick, the deer eat. Every night in the summer we watch at least half a dozen deer slowly walk through the yard to munch on an evening snack plucked from the tree. The kids sit at the window, “oh” and “ah” over the fawns, and try to count the number of points on the male antlers.

A friend who tolerates our food pushing tendencies and is well aware of the Big Biscotti Bake dropped off a bag of dried mulberries for us one day. We’ve enjoyed fresh mulberries, but never dried. When we opened the bag, the shriveled up brown berries looked less than appetizing. But, then we tried them. They were so chewy and full of sweetness we were sure they would taste fabulous in biscotti paired with pecans.

Mulberry Pecan Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ¾ cups flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup ground pecans

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup dried mulberries

Agave

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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, pecans, and nutmeg.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon 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 mulberries and knead until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6. Separate the dough in thirds. Form three 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 each log with agave and spread to cover the top with your fingers. Sprinkle with brown sugar and ground pecans.

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 #23: Craft a sundial with the ends to tell time.

Butter Pecan Biscotti with Mini Chocolate Chips

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Which came first, biscotti or ice cream? You could contend that it is an irrelevant riddle and not quite as philosophic as the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” However, in our house we would beg to disagree. Actually, we disagree about quite a bit on a daily basis. “Which one of these two movies should we watch?” is a question that is almost always answered by one picking the movie in my left hand and the other picking the movie in my right hand, just for spite and the sake of disagreeing. We believe in giving limited choices for the kids to decide on themselves, unlike the woman I overheard in the store who plunked her toddler down in front of the candy rack at the register and asked him which candy he’d like. That is either an extra 15 minutes at the register, which is going to piss off the cashier as she waits for the kid to decide and infuriate the customers behind her, or is going to result in a tantrum when he can’t decide and the frustrated or embarrassed mother picks for him. Either way it is a bad scene.

In our case, the ice cream came first and there was no disagreement that we needed some biscotti to serve with it. The monkeys and I decided to make some Georgia Peach Ice Cream from the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book with some peaches we picked at the farm a few days ago. We added butter toasted pecans and had visions of serving mini chocolate chips on top. Lately we (the kids) like to eat ice cream in a waffle bowl. Then we thought, why eat the ice cream with a regular spoon? We could have a totally edible sweet treat without using any bowls or utensils at all (less dishes!). So while we waited for the ice cream to harden, we made Butter Pecan Biscotti with Mini Chocolate Chips to scoop up the frozen goodness. Ice cream and biscotti are best friends. My two monkeys, who really are best friends, found this pairing particularly agreeable. We use mini chocolate chips because they tend to spread the chocolate more evenly throughout the biscotti, but you can always use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips. Since we were using the biscotti as spoons, we decided to make three biscotti logs to keep each one small and manageable for little hands. 

 

Butter Pecan Biscotti with Mini Chocolate Chips

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

¾ cup butter toasted pecans

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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 egg whites (save the two remaining yolks to top the logs before baking).

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 butter toasted pecans, kneading the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6. Separate the dough in thirds. 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.

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What to do with the ends #20: Shoot the ends through the air with a homemade popsicle stick catapult.