Friday, December 30, 2011

Cranberry-Almond Biscotti

While I didn't accomplish the Christmas Cookies I had hoped to make, as gifts, I was able to make two biscotti recipes.  This one comes from an Italian friend that I work with.    I've never made biscotti, and I'm amazed at how easy they are to make.  I even dipped them in chocolate and packed them away until I could wrap them in gift bags and ribbon, for my coworkers.

Apparently, both my son and husband loved these as well.  Let's just say that the "kitchen mice" got into them. They pouted when I gave what they hadn't eaten-- and they had barely left me enough to package as gifts. So, I made more. Just for them.  Well, I like these too. A lot.

The dry ingredients are flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Room temperature unsalted butter and eggs bind it all together. (Why are my eggs soaking in water? It's my shortcut for bringing refrigerator cold eggs to room temp-- I soak them in hot tap water.)  To flavor this biscotti, you need a little orange and lemon zest.

To know me, is to know that I love shopping at King Arthur Flour.  I am really fond of their fiori di sicilia extract.  This has notes of vanilla and citrus, and I use it a lot.  I decided to try their Pure Orange oil and lemon oil (not to be confused with extract).  Sometimes, I just don't have a fresh orange or lemon on hand, so I wanted to see how I liked using these products.  These are very concentrated, so I added less than 1/8 teaspoon of the citrus oils and about 1/2 teaspoon of the fiori di sicilia.

Begin by creaming the soften butter and sugar until fluffy-- about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, lemon and orange zest (or, in my case, the citrus oils) and then about 1/3 of the flour mixture. 

Add the cranberries and sliced almonds, and slowly add the remaining flour.

The batter tastes so good!  I got just the right balance of citrus and vanilla. 

I doubled the recipe, so I divided the dough in half and shaped them into "logs".  Wetting my hands made this easy to do, without the dough sticking. These do spread quite a bit, so they need to be spread.  A silpat mat or parchment paper really helps, too.

Bake at 350F for until light golden-- about 40 minutes.

Allow to cool just until you can touch them-- about 10 minutes.
A serrated knife makes cutting them, on the diagonal, at about 3/4" much easier to do. I found that pressing straight down works better, than sawing. I got less broken cookies and crumbs.

NOTE: My personal preference with biscotti is to bake them just until they are a very light golden color.  I want to underbake by five minutes, because I prefer mine to be a little softer inside. On the other hand, my son prefers them to be baked harder, because he dunks them in coffee. 

Set each slice on one side and bake for 15 minutes. I like to turn them over, at 7 minutes, so they bake more evenly.
Transfer the baked biscotti to a rack and allow to cool.

VERDICT:  I love these. Plain and simple. They are slightly sweet, but not too much.  They crumble a bit, and have a soft inside and a crisp outside. Just the way I like them.  I didn't photograph the batches that I dipped in dark chocolate.  They are excellent.  I prefer my biscotti without chocolate, only because I enjoy them with my morning coffee-- and that counts as breakfast, right?

This biscotti recipe saved me, because I wanted to give something edible as Christmas gifts.  They took about 15 minutes for the batter to be ready, and by doubling the recipe, I got 24 biscotti.  They got a lot of compliments, so mission accomplished.   Thanks, Kelly, for sharing your Italian recipe with me.   A printable recipe is at the end of this post.

2011 has been a good to me. I have no complaints.  I wish all of you a safe and wonderful New Year!
Thank you for your friendship.  You have made blogging a lot of fun for me.

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Amalia said...

I've never made biscotti before, but I've been wanting to make it for quite some time. They look so delicious, I love the cranberry-almond flavors and the citrus also. Thanks for the great recipe, have a happy new year :)

Aarthi said...

this looks so delicious

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I love using cranberries in biscotti, especially around the holidays. Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

I do love Biscotti and I haven't had any in a while. This looks really good. Pat

Joanne said...

Biscotti are so much fun to make and really are shockingly easy! Love this flavor combination...I can see why your boys plowed through them so quickly!

Happy New Year!

Melanie said...

The biscotti look great! Fiori di Sicilia is the best, isn't it? Happy Baking in the New Year! ~Mel