Maple Walnut Biscotti with a Maple Glaze

Maple Walnut 1

The traveling circus just returned from our final road trip of the summer. We did not escape occurring any medical bills on this trip and we also lost a tooth in the parking lot of the spaceship diner in Niagara Falls, but a good time was had by all…and a few lessons learned.

1. Fresh cheese curds from gas stations are not as bad as you think.

2. Always wear shoes. (This is where the medical bills come in.)

3. If you walk in a rainbow all your wishes will come true.

4. You can purchase firewood by the armload.

5. Do not ask children if they need to use the bathroom EVERY time you see a roadside rest stop or exit with a Sheetz. (Some of us already knew this one.)

6. If the border patrol asks if you are traveling with your parents, the answer is “yes.”

And of course there were questions posed to us along the way. One of our favorites was, “Why do you need a receipt when you pay for the food you eat? You can’t take it back.”

Along the way we also attended a shotgun wedding, complete with ceremony, first dance, first kiss, and reception. On August 16th Pink Monkey (a.k.a. Molly) married Alex. Our daughter set the date months ago and was not going to forget it. Yet we did, until my husband and I remembered the night before. So it was a last-minute scramble and we surprised her with a special stop at Sideling Hill on route 68 in western Maryland along the first leg of our road trip. The wedding cake (blueberry muffin) was purchase from the ice rink where our son played hockey that morning. The cake topper and wedding certificate were printed out and assembled the night before. The gown (scarf) and tie (metallic shoe string) were thrown in the car at the last-minute. Vows were exchanged amid the sounds from the freeway below and the two are now officially married and sure to live happily ever after.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On our trip we stayed with family and friends in Pennsylvania and spent time in Canada, which as many of you probably know is well-known for maple flavored EVERYTHING! As we drove south on the QEW from Toronto to Niagara Falls, we saw signs for a distillery. A vacation can’t be all about the kids, right? So we thought we’d check out the tour, which apparently ended only 30 minutes before we walked in the door. But we did leave with some whiskey and maple liqueur, which is perfect for spicing up your coffee and dunking your biscotti.

Maple Walnut Biscotti with a Maple Glaze

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, plus one for the brushing on the logs

2 teaspoons maple extract

1 ½ cups walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Icing

¼ cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

____________________

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, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and maple 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 walnuts. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough into thirds.  Form three logs, approximately 2 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 30-35 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. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti with a spoon.

____________________

What to do with the ends #81: Crumble and throw the ends at your next roadside wedding instead of rice.

 

Banana Cream and Roasted Walnut Biscotti

banana 5

I love games. My husband often teases me that we had kids so I would have someone to play games with. He always beats me at backgammon, questioning my logic and chuckling at each move I make. I always win at Scrabble, which he doesn’t agree to play all that often. He’s intimidated by my wordplay.

But, the kids and I love games. We spend afternoons playing Blokus, Wig Out, Uno, Qwirkle, Trouble, Trash, and many others. Some of us appreciate a little verbal bantering and boasting more than others. But once a winner is declared, we always shake hands and say, “good game.”

While my husband may not love games like we do, he does loves a challenge. He makes them up for the kids quite often. The “Cold Cup Challenge” was designed to see how many cups of cold water the kids could stand to have dumped on their heads at the end of bathtime. “Here Comes the Little Mousie” was created to see how many tickles it would take before they laughed. My husband promised them they could stay up all night long if they are a formidable match for the little mousie. Luckily we are still waiting for one of them to conquer that challenge.

Just today my husband created the “Cold Paw Challenge.” He sent them outside in their pajamas and bare feet to stand with arms outstretched on the frosty slate bricks to sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for 3 minutes. He promised them chocolate chip pancakes if they lasted the entire time. Our son was back in the house in less than 30 seconds. However, our daughter was in for the long haul. I mentioned that we didn’t need anyone getting sick before the holidays. He insists you can’t get sick from being in the cold, another one of those child-rearing principles we disagree on. Luckily he is a big softie and called her in after just a minute and still made them both pancakes.

As a kid we played plenty of games and ate plenty of banana bread. It was a family favorite and one of the first quick breads we learned to make. We’ve baked plenty of variations, including the recipe in Beard on Bread. But one of my favorite recipes was given to me by a coworker during my college days when I was interning at IBM. Her recipe calls for pudding mix, which keeps the bread super moist. You can find the entire recipe below.

So with the stack of brown bananas taking over an entire shelf in the freezer, we decided to make banana bread one evening. After the kids were done using the bowls as drums, licking and sword fighting with the beaters, and using a double-sided measuring spoon to create a scale for weighing marbles, we finally got the bread in the oven and the house smelled wonderful.

With banana on the brains, we tackled Banana Cream and Roasted Walnut Biscotti next. The biscotti recipe does not call for bananas, which would add too much moisture, but uses banana flavored oil and banana chips instead. We used LorAnn Oils, which has quite an extensive list of oils and flavors for all baked goods. We mixed some banana cream oil with some sugar to coat the top and the banana goodness lives on.

 

Banana Cream and Roasted Walnut Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs

1 teaspoon banana cream flavored oil, plus ¼ teaspoon for the topping

1 cup roasted walnuts, finely chopped

1 cup finely crushed banana chips

____________________

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 cinnamon.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and banana cream 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 walnuts and banana chips. 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 the 2 tablespoons sugar with the ¼ teaspoon banana cream extra. Press 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.

____________________ 

 

Banana Bread

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 3 ounce package of vanilla pudding mix

3 ripe bananas, mashed

____________________

1. Grease and flour 2 bread loaf pans. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat together in a large bowl the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar.

3. Mix together in a medium bowl the baking powder, flour, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture slowly and beat to create  a consistent batter.

4. Add the bananas and beat until incorporated.

5. Separate the batter evenly between the two load pans. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the bread is set and the top of the loaf springs back when lightly touched.

____________________

What to do with the ends #50: Use the ends to start a fire in the fireplace.

Apple Walnut Biscotti

apple walnut 3

Apples signal the beginning of fall around here and apple season is in full swing. Our favorite by far are honeycrisp apples. Yet, they are also the first apples to ripen during the season and as much as I keep an eye on the harvest schedule at our local pick your own farm, we miss them every year!

But one event we do attend every year is the National Apple Harvest Festival in Biglerville, Pennsylvania. The lanes on the festival grounds have names like red delicious drive, cider press alley, candy apple lane, and macintosh circle. The festival provides a bit of something for everyone. Apples, apple sausage, apple dumplings, caramel apples, candied apples, apple breads, apple cookies, and fried apples provide an opportunity for my husband to yet again eat his way through another festival. Tractor rides, petting zoos, crafts, musical performances, demonstrations, and an antique car show keep the kids entertained. Yet there is one event that is always missing…bobbing for apples.

One of my favorite fall memories as a kid was bobbing for apples. My mom would clean out the large steel tub, feel it with cold water from the hose, and toss in a dozen red delicious apples. For several years I eagerly helped organize a neighborhood Halloween party, hoping to bring back bobbing for apples. However, it was vetoed each year due to it’s “gross” factor. Apparently allowing dozens of kids to put their face in a large steel tub of water with a healthy dose of spit has lost its appeal over the years. When did this happen?

We haven’t yet bobbed for apples this year and certainly won’t be attending any parties where it is allowed. So I cleaned out the old Coleman cooler and we made an afternoon of it. I know from my own long history of bobbing for apples that the size of the apples is key. So I choose some smaller ones we had picked at the farm last week. The kids were sure they needed goggles. And both developed their own styles. Our son went for the stems and our daughter stuck her entire head in and pinned the apple against the side or the bottom of the cooler. They were very wet and very happy.

To honor the beginning of fall and an afternoon of bobbing for apples, we made these Apple Walnut Biscotti with both crushed apple chips and chopped Chinese apple rings to infuse as much of a natural apple taste as possible. Chinese apple rings are dehydrated apples that still retain some of their moisture and are perfect for baking.

 

Apple Walnut Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup finely crushed apple chips (almost into powder form)

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 cup diced Chinese apple rings

____________________

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 nutmeg.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, 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 apple chips, walnuts, and apple rings, 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.

____________________

What to do with the ends #32: Use the ends as boulders to move with toy trucks.

 

Spiced Plum and Walnut Biscotti

plum 1

As the Big Biscotti Bake continues in our house, so does the Big Biscotti Debate. My husband prefers biscotti right out of the oven after the first bake. He tries to find a reason to come into the kitchen and snag a few before we put them back in the oven. The biscotti are soft and warm, just the way he likes them. I am a firm believer that biscotti are made to be dunked. They shouldn’t fall apart the minute you dunk them in a steaming mug of cappuccino or a cold cup of milk. However, with that said, the kids tend to submerge the entire biscotti with each dunk and inevitably large soggy chunks find their way to the bottom of the cup. I think they do it because they believe there is something wildly naughty about sticking their entire hand in to dig it out. According to my father-in-law, the correct dunking etiquette requires that you never let your fingers touch your drink. Well I think we can add that to the long litany of social rules we break on a daily basis.

Below is a variation of the Big Biscotti Debate repeated in our house over and over again.

Husband: I think you should make some without baking them twice, so they aren’t as hard and crunchy. I wish everyone could taste them when you pull them right out of the oven, warm and chewy. This is the way they should be.

Me: Then they wouldn’t be biscotti, which means twice baked. If you want to make yourself some cookies, then let me know and I’ll get out of your way.

End of debate.

When at an impasse, we often poll family and friends to resolve our debates. Once we (I) sent out an e-mail inquiring as to whether cutting grass on a riding mower, with a beer in the cup holder and music playing on the headphones, could really be considered work. We went through a stage where we (my husband) was wasting milk at a very alarming rate. I threatened to start buying organic milk, which is expensive and in his mind a ridiculous waste of money, unless he started putting the milk the kids didn’t finish back in the fridge. He contended that you could leave milk on the table indefinitely, in the sun or in 100 degree weather, and that the kids could come back and drink it whenever they felt like it. I strongly believed there was an expiration for unrefrigerated milk. We turned to an informal poll of our family and friends to resolve that debate as well. As a result, we revamped our parenting strategy and now we just make sure they drink all of their milk before leaving the table. Seems simple enough, but you have no idea what we went through to get there.

So in line with our history of debating and polling, we’d like to ask, how do you like your biscotti? Dunkable? Crumbly? Soft? Hard? Chewy? Crunchy?

We are plum crazy around here, literally and figuratively. We are going though at least half a dozen plums a day. My husband has been begging for some plum biscotti. So, when we finally got around to making some and presenting him with our Spiced Plum and Walnut Biscotti, mentioning that we made them especially for him, he turned to us and remarked, “I said fig, not plum.” I think that’s debatable.

In creating these biscotti we kept in mind the fact that he likes a “chewier” biscotti. We added half a cup of barley flour, which keeps baked goods moist, and some ground walnuts. These biscotti are very flavorful and the spices are a wonderful backdrop to the sweetness of the plums, which tend to spread out and infuse the dough as you knead it. Tossing the plums in sugar before adding them truly brings out the sweetness of the dried fruit.

Spiced Plum and Walnut Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 cups flour

½ cup barley flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup ground walnuts

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup dried plums, roughly chopped and tossed in ¼ cup sugar

____________________

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, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and walnuts.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites 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 plums along with any extra sugar at the bottom of the bowl and knead the dough 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. Firmly press the top of the logs with brown 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.

___________________

What to do with the ends #22: Crumble the ends and sprinkle over the icing on cupcakes to add a layer of extra flavor.