Thursday, December 6, 2012
Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti
The cranberry craze continues here. First it was cranberry preserves, then salad with cranberry and other delicious ingredients, and now biscotti.
What are your thoughts on biscotti? Love it? Hate it? Never thought much about it?
Historically I've turned my nose up to biscotti. I always viewed them as boring...and a little too crunchy for my taste. I tried my first homemade biscotti a couple of years ago as part of the Sweet Melissa Baking group. I was pleasantly surprised that I did in fact like these little cookies. For the record, I prefer my biscotti to be a little on the soft side. Meaning, not super crunchy/hard. It's all about the second bake time. I under bake mine a bit to avoid an uber hard biscotti.
Now don't go comparing biscotti to a piece of cake or your favorite fudgy brownie. To fully appreciate biscotti you have to put them in their own category. It's a great snack or light breakfast. What I like is that it's not overly sweet, but is still enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. And no, you don't have to be a coffee drinker to like biscotti. Though I will say it's really perfect with a hot cup of tea if you're into that.
I made this batch of biscotti to send off for November's Operation Baking GALS (where volunteer bakers send home baked goodies to military stationed overseas). And I'm gearing up to make it again this weekend for December's OBG since it travels so well. I'm pretty jazzed about this round of OBG because it's Christmas. On Sunday a few friends and family are gathering at my house with their baked goods and we are going to pack up boxes to send two recipients stationed in Afghanistan. I'm really excited to see how many boxes we can put together to bring a little Christmas cheer to the military personnel who sacrifice so much for us all. I'll be posting more on our baking party next week. :)
In the meantime, if you haven't tried biscotti you might want to give them a shot. And biscotti makes a nice homemade holiday gift if you're looking for ideas.
Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti
Adapted from Sweet Melissa Baking Book
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and cranberries and bring to a simmer. Cover and remove heat, allowing the cranberries to reconstitute in the orange juice.
In a medium bowl whisk flour and baking powder and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, zest, and salt until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing fully after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, almond and orange extracts and mix until combined.
Add flour mixture to wet mixture in 3 additions, with the mixer on low speed. Drain the cranberries and discard the juice. Stir the cranberries and almonds into the dough. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll each half into a log, patting and shaping it until you reach 14 inches. Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet, about 4 inches apart.
Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly golden and slightly firm. Remove from oven and place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees. Transfer the logs to cutting board and cut the logs into 3/4 inch sticks at 45 degree angle. Transfer the cookies to a freshly lined cookie sheet, cut side up. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn cookies over, exposing the other cut side and return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. If you want a really crunchy cookie, bake for a total of 60 minutes.