Indian Candy Coated Fennel Biscotti

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This month marks the ten year anniversary of our Semester at Sea voyage. I worked on-board and my husband took a relaxing 4 month leave of absence from work. We circumvented the globe with over 700 college students, explored 12 ports of call, and made some amazing memories. One of the places that really touched us on our voyage was India.

While docked in India, my husband and I served as field trip leaders for 40 students on a five day tour of four cities, Chennai, Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. In those five days we traveled by ship, plane, rickshaw, elephant, train, and bus. Despite an six-hour cockroach infested train ride, water leaking on our heads from somewhere on the airplane, and many near death collisions with other vehicles as our bus speed down narrow congested roads, we managed to keep everyone together. After traveling for several days without showering, we arrived back to port only to realize that since the ship was unable to take on clean water, the water was simply shut off. We were a smelly bunch.

While we traveled, my husband kept a daily journal. His personal highlight was cutting the grass at the Taj Mahal with an ox and cart. In his journal he wrote:

“0400 wake up in Delhi. Then we took a two and a half hour train ride to Agra…I was watching two men with cows mow the grass at the Taj and I asked if I could take their picture. They did better! They let me up on the mower and I actually cut the grass for the Taj Mahal!”

While we traveled, we were also encouraged to find a “toothbrush person,” someone you would remember daily as your brush your teeth, realizing how connected you are to the world. I found my toothbrush person in India. I never spoke to her and saw her for only a second as we whizzed past in our bus. She was no older than seven and wore an over-sized brilliant sapphire dress that was dusty from the dirt road. Her hair was a wild dark black tangled mess that probably made her look half a foot taller than she really was. In her bare feet she teetered on the curb and stared inside our bus as we drove by. Her eyes were heavily outlined with dark makeup and her face did not bear a smile. There was something about her that was jolting, yet mesmerizing, and I could only imagine what her story might be.

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We loved India, the experiences, the people, and the food. While we don’t have the opportunity to experience India in the same way, we are fortunate to have some great Indian restaurants and groceries close by.

These Indian Candy Coated Fennel Biscotti were inspired by the bowl of these treats that we find at the door of most Indian restaurants. Intended to freshen your breath and cleanse your palate, these candy coated fennel seeds are the perfect combination of sweet and savory. The Sambuca adds a hint more of fennel or anise flavor to an already delightful treat.

 

Indian Candy Coated Fennel Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, additional for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 1 egg white

¼ cup Sambuca, additional for the topping

1/3 cup candy coated fennel seeds

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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, 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 candy coated fennel seeds. 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 top of each log with Sambuca and spread with your fingers. Sprinkle the top of each log with a healthy coating of 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 #76: Find your own “biscotti being” and think of them every time you eat the ends.

 

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.