Dec 16, 2010

Biscotti for the Holidays

This is a great basic biscotti recipe that can be adapted and varied in many ways; from adding fruit and nuts to the batter, to dipping them in white or dark chocolate. Individual biscottis  would make great little gifts for friends or co-workers - just wrap them individually with clear wrap and tie with holiday ribbon. But if you do keep any for yourself, please do one thing: save at least one plain biscotti (not dipped in chocolate) and dip it in your morning coffee. A fantastic way to start off your day...

Caitlin: I've been using this biscotti recipe for years - I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but it's great and incredibly easy, not to mention versatile. I've added just about everything to the batter, but my absolute favorite combination is pistachios and cranberries - not only does it taste great, but it's a nice color combination for the holidays. I also dipped some of the cut biscotti in dark chocolate for added sweet touch.
Caitlin's Version: Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti dipped in Dark Chocolate
Monica: Okay, when Caitlin suggested we make biscotti, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous of what my biscotti might turn out like. You can find biscotti in every coffee shop you walk into and they just look as though they might be difficult to make; but I have to say, this recipe is a no-fail hit!  It is a fairly easy recipe to follow and the biscotti turns out picture perfect.  I also love how you can vary the batter to your liking. I chose to keep mine fairly simple by only adding pistachios to my batter, however, I did have a lot of fun decorating them.I chose to melt white chocolate chips and coated the outside of my biscotti with the white chocolate while decorating some with green and pink sprinkles and the others with crushed candy canes.  These are delicious and perfect for your holiday cookie spread - give them a try!
Monica's Version: Pistachio Biscotti w/White Chocolate & Crushed Peppermint

2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter – room temp
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
*the ingredients above are for basic biscotti without any additions, so you can add whatever you like, here are some ideas we suggest:
Macadamias, crushed 3/4 cup
Slivered Almonds, 3/4 cup
Pistachios, crushed 3/4 cup
Dried cranberries, 3/4 cup
Chocolate chips, 3/4 cup

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk flour and baking powder in medium bowl. In another bowl, beat sugar, butter, zest, and salt. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat until just blended. Stir in any additions you want.

Form the dough into a log that’s about 13 by 3 inches long on the baking sheet. 

Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut the log on the diagonal into ½ inch thick slices. Arrange the biscotti – cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

At this point, you can dip some in melted chocolate and add holiday sprinkles.

Depending on your taste, you can get creative with additions to the batter. Suggested ideas: various nuts, raisins, chocolate.

You can leave out the lemon zest and add just a touch of anisette.

Caitlin: Holiday baking always puts me in the mood for Christmas music, so here are some more of my favorites:
"Silent Sigh" Badly Drawn Boy
"What's This" Danny Elfman
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) Death Cab for Cutie
"A Change at Christmas" The Flaming Lips
"Happy Christmas (War is Over)" John Lennon

Monica:  I was in a Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney sorta mood - with a couple of holiday songs thrown into the mix for good measure:
1)  Rockin' in the Free World - Neil Young
2)  Things Have Changed - Bob Dylan
3)  O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio (aka: Charlie Brown Christmas album)
4)  Band on the Run - Paul McCartney
5)  Silent Night - Mahalia Jackson

Drink of Choice
Monica and Caitlin:  Coffee, coffee, coffee!  You have to dip these in your coffee.

A Recipe to Remember?
Yes, absolutely!

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