Friday, November 16, 2012

Gift Idea for your Thanksgiving Hostess: Biscotti

Are you heading someplace for Thanksgiving this year?  Do you have a hostess gift for your upcoming holiday parties?  Does your spouse need a treat to bring to staff?  Is there a special teacher you'd like to give something along with that gift card you've put on your list?  Here is the perfect gift!

Easy and beautiful, tasty and comforting Biscotti.  It is so easy to make and so easy to decorate.  The  simple "twice baked" cookie can be a variety of flavors and hold all sorts of different treats.  It can be served plain or you can dress it up even more with some icing or melted chocolate.

For this time of year I go to my standby recipe which is:

Almond, Cranberry Orange Zest Biscotti
This recipe has been prepared at 5280 Ft above sea level!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 heaping tsp of orange zest

1 stick of butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries

To Prepare:
Preheat the oven again to 350 degrees.
Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt sugar and orange zest in to a large bowl.  Whisk together thoroughly.  The butter should be softened and added next.  Whisk again to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Then whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and then add to the mix.  Finally add the almonds and cranberries and mix until they are evenly distributed.

With the dough all formed you should have a batter that holds together but does not readily stick to your hands.  Form a loaft on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (you will be glad you used the parchment paper).  The loaf should be about 12-14 inches long and about 3 inches wide and about 3/4 inch high.

Place the loaf in the preheated oven.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool to room temperature (30-40 min?).

Preheat the oven again to 350 degrees.
Use a long serrated knife (bread knife) to cut the loaf into slices along the width.  A sharp knife is essential to cut through the almonds and cranberries cleanly!

Lay the slices on their sides on the cookie sheet again lined with parchment (I reuse the same paper).  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  The cookies should turn a very light gold shade- not as gold as the crust on the edge though.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Ta-DA!  You have biscotti.  Depending on your occasion, go ahead and experiment with different ingredients like raisins, coconut, vanilla, chips, anise, walnuts, lemon etc. etc. etc...

I have found these simple treats to be a real hit just with the recipe I've given.  However, you can get even more fancy with melted chocolate (using a double boiler) and dipping one end of the cookie for a gormet effect.

You have plenty of time to make these.  You can cook up several loaves at once.  They last for weeks!  Bring them along to your hostess in a nice tin or decorated box.  Just be sure to seal them in an airtight container so they will retain their crispiness and their fresh baked flavor!

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