Nutty Bitters Biscotti

Bitters 3

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.

Bitters collage 2

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!

Apple Peach Biscotti with Walnuts

apple peach 2

Santa brought our family Bingo. Not just any bingo, but an old school, retro style game with wooden balls and a metal spinner cage. I can’t tell you how many games of Bingo we played in the last week. We played straight Bingo, four corners, postage stamp, kite, six-pack, and the sometimes agonizingly slow coverall.

The kids argue over who is going to crank the spinner cage and we are quickly losing track of whose turn is next. They also love to put little stuffed or plastic animals inside the spinner cage to “give them a ride.” They will squeal and comment how much fun Aquarius is having in the cage, wonder at how Duckie is playing hide-and-seek in the cage, and totally meltdown when one of them gets stuck in the cage. Who knew Bingo could bring out so many emotions in all of us.

Our daughter sounds like a professional Bingo caller. If you didn’t know she was six and closed your eyes, you could almost imagine her in a paneled smoke-filled VFW, sitting high on the stage behind a table draped in a white tablecloth, spinning the metal cage with white plastic numbered balls, lighting up the large number board behind her before calling the next number. “B 11. B-1-1.” I experienced my fair share of the nostalgic Bingo halls as a youth  in small town America and witnessed the faith put in good luck charms of all kinds. Bingo is a game that is still played in VFW’s, Elk’s Clubs, and American Legions in our Western Pennsylvania hometown most any day of the week.

I mentioned to a friend the other day that we liked the Bingo cards that came with the game, which have red transparent windows or shutters you can close once a letter is called, rather than using chips or daubers. My friend asked, “What’s a dauber?”I was floored. I grew up thinking everyone played Bingo.

Our son is still working on his number calling technique, so we thought teaching him the B-I-N-G-O song would help him sort out the letters and perhaps speed up the game. No such luck.

So while we made these Apple Peach Biscotti with Walnuts before the holiday as part of our first Holiday Biscotti Giveaway, we couldn’t help but make up a song to the tune of B-I-N-G-O to describe the recipient.

There was a boy who loved his fruit, and apple was his favorite. A-P-P-L-E, A-P-P-L-E, A-P-P-L-E, and apple was his favorite. 

The addition of ground walnuts and brown sugar keep these biscotti soft enough to munch on without needing to dunk them. Although some hot apple cider would be a great accompaniment.

Apple Peach 1

Apple Peach Biscotti with Walnuts

YIELD: approximately two dozen

½ cup chopped dried peaches

½ cup chopped dried apples (We used dried apple rings because they are chewier than other varieties.)

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup ground walnuts

3 eggs, plus 1 egg white for the topping

¼teaspoon apple flavored oil (We used LorAnn Oils.)

2 tablespoons brown sugar for the topping

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1. Mix ½ cup sugar, dried peaches, and dried apples in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

3.  In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts.

4.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and apple flavored oil.

5.  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.

6.  Add the dried fruit and sugar mixture. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

7.  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.

8. Beat one egg white in a small bowl with a fork. Brush the top of each log with the egg white and press the tops with brown sugar.

9.  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.

10.  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 #62: Use the ends as a spoon rest while making dinner.

Nutty Biscotti

nutty 3

Christmas is over. Inglemauker, our elf, has returned to his family at the North Pole. Our stockings are folded and packed away for next year. And, our Christmas tree is losing its pine needles all over the living room floor.

The kids opened and are enjoying their gifts. Our son has been through three sets of batteries in his remote control fire truck, which he paraded around the neighborhood Christmas day at a snail-like pace, spraying the neighbor’s mailboxes to put out random fires we found on our travels. Our daughter went straight for the bag of books we traditionally give the kids each year, commenting on whether each book was a family favorite and relishing the new books she can’t wait to read.

And Big Biscotti Bake received its first piece of custom artwork by a local, yet somewhat undiscovered, artist. Thank you! We love it and will prominently display it, always thankful to have such inspiring people in our lives.

art

Soon we will take down the lights outside, pull the tree to the curb, and pack away the decorations. Our house will return to whatever normalcy we can manage.

When I was a kid there was one thing that always outlasted the holidays. Every year well before Christmas, my parents would put out a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker. That little pick that comes with the nutcracker was always carefully hidden away because I am quite sure my parents thought we would accidentally poke our eyes out with it. My brother and I were always ready to crack a nut for anyone who requested one. But we were not always strong enough, grunting like Olympic weight lifters and often handing over the nutcracker to the closest adult after conceding our defeat. Eventually we got strong enough, but by then the nutcracker lost its appeal and bags of already cracked nuts were more common on grocery store shelves. Even then I loved the almonds best.

So as a nod to family tradition, we made these Nutty Biscotti with four of our favorites, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews. Sometimes we spoon melted dark chocolate over half of these biscotti, but they are perfectly delicious on their own.

 

Nutty Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½cup almond meal

¼ cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup roasted walnut pieces, roughly chopped

½ cup whole roasted almonds

½cup roasted and salted pistachios

½ cup roasted cashews

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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, almond meal, cornmeal, 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 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 #60: Use the ends to crack nuts.

Oatmeal Raisin Biscotti

oatmeal 4

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!

oatmeal 2

oatmeal

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.

 

 

 

Whole Wheat Goji Berry, Walnut, and Cocoa Nib Biscotti

goji 1

Kindergarten starts in only 30 days!  My daughter is excited.  I am excited because she is excited.  Just a few months ago we were attending her preschool graduation.  All the parents were talking about how quickly their kids are growing up, how much they are going to miss having them at home, and how in a few short months they are starting kindergarten.  Maybe I’m a bad mom, but I was standing on the sidelines having a panic attack because I’d been racking my brain thinking about what I was going to do with my two kids all summer.  Kindergarten was the furthest thing from my mind.  But now, it is right around the corner.

I am a person who likes to be prepared.  Some may say I take it to the extreme, but I would disagree.  The other day I pulled out the school supply list provided by our public school system, which was somewhat lengthy and very specific.  Pencil boxes need to be a particular size, folders need to be laminated and without brads (I don’t even know what or who that is), and pencils need to be yellow.  My daughter is convinced she can take her favorite owl pencils to school.  We will have to deal with that situation when it arises.  As much as I loved to buy new school supplies as a kid, I was geeky like that, I don’t remember ever being required to do so.  But we are ready and checked school supplies off the list.

Then we were having lunch the today and it hit me.  I will need to pack her lunch.  Now granted I have some experience packing lunches… my lunch, my husband’s lunch.  When I used to pack his lunch, before he told me that he didn’t like the way I did it. I would write secret messages in mustard on his sandwich.  I’m still a little bitter about that.  But packing lunches for a kid is different.

We talked today about what she might like to take in her lunch and biscotti made the list.  Yeah!  In fact, biscotti are great lunchbox treats, especially when made with nutrient rich foods.  So, today we made one of our favorite energizer biscotti.  Our biscotti, because we use no butter or oil, are already a very healthy treat.  So describing them as healthy seems redundant. Energizers can be packed with whole wheat flour, flaxseed, oat bran, walnuts, cocoa nibs, chai seeds, and a variety of foods that nourish the body and mind.  I’m not sure how we came up with the word energizers, but it stuck.  And I am warning you, they are very addictive!

goji 5 goji 4

Whole Wheat Goji Berry, Walnut, and Cocoa Nib Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ cup agave nectar

4 tablespoons cocoa nibs

3 tablespoons goji berries

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

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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 whole wheat flour, cornmeal, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and flaxseed.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract, and agave nectar.

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 slightly tacky.

5.  Add the cocoa nibs, goji berries, and walnuts and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 to 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.  Firmly press the top of each log with light brown sugar.

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 #3: Eat them of course!