Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

Holiday Biscotti
I’m attending a neighborhood cookie exchange tonight. I’m feeling a bit anxious – after my cookie baking failure false start last week, I’m hesitant to test new recipes out on the group. “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m the baker who can’t make a cookie.” I’ve decided, instead, to pull out a classic – chocolate dipped biscotti. I originally created this recipe in 2010 for a vin santo dessert pairing at the steakhouse. The original recipe created about 144 cookies. I’ve paired it down to about 6 dozen. What I love about this recipe is how easy it is to divide the dough, add various ingredients and create unique flavor combinations with a minimum of fuss.


Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

  • Servings: About 6 Dozen
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This is a basic biscotti recipe. I’ve listed a few mix-in flavor options below, but flavor combinations are limited only by your imagination.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 8 oz. butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two sheet pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and add vanilla extract. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Divide dough into two equal amounts and add ingredients below (or make your own combination of mix-ins).
  2. Divide each flavor into two rolls about 14” long (You should have four 14” rolls). Place rolls 4” apart on sheet pans. Flatten each roll to about 3” wide so each log should be about 3” x 14”. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are set and logs are light golden brown. Cool logs for 10 minutes. With a serrated knife, carefully cut each log crosswise into ½” – ¾” slices. Lay slices flat on sheet pans and bake 8-10 minutes until biscotti feel dry to the touch. Turn over and bake another 5 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Warm chocolate chips in the microwave 60-90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate is smooth. Dip the tip of each cooled biscotti in chocolate and set aside until chocolate is set.

Almond Orange
– ⅓ cup chopped almonds
– zest from one orange
– substitute 1 teaspoon almond extract for 1 of the teaspoons of vanilla
– 1 cup milk chocolate chips (for dipping)
Cherry Walnut
– ⅓ cup dried cherries, chopped
– ⅓ cup candied walnuts, chopped
– 1 cup dark chocolate chips (for dipping)
Apricot Pistachio
– ⅓ cup dried apricots, chopped
– ⅓ cup pistachios, chopped
– 1 cup white chocolate chips (for dipping)
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Holiday Marzipan Stollen

4 loaves of Stollen
Stollen is a bit lazy. It needs A LOT of rest, plenty of naps on its way to being eaten, a good 12 hours of sleep in the beginning AND at the end, four days of vacation after that. Stollen takes its time. I begin the process the night before baking by making the soaker (all the good bits soaked in dark rum), making the sponge (a bit of flour, water and yeast allowed to party overnight) and candying my own peel. The stollen is packed so full of good stuff, a long, slow rise is essential the next day. After baking, the cooled stollen rests again overnight and then benefits from a rest at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for at least 4 additional days. A clear calendar is essential to ensure the process isn’t rushed:

Night 1: Make candied peel, make soaker and make sponge (Steps 1-3 below)
Day 2: Make dough, proof, bake, coat with butter and sugar, rest overnight uncovered (Steps 4-12 below)
Day 3-7: Wrap tightly in foil at room temperature and allow to rest for at least 4 days (Steps 13-14 below )

Marzipan Stollen

Adapted from Wild Yeast Blog. It’s worth the time to make your own candied peel. It turns stollen from dowdy to delicious.

Ingredients


Soaker Ingredients:
– 120 grams golden raisins
– 90 grams dried figs, chopped
– 60 grams sliced almonds
– 35 grams dark rum
Sponge Ingredients:
– 120 grams all-purpose flour
– 80 grams water
– A small pinch rapid-rise yeast
Dough Ingredients:
– 350 grams all-purpose flour
– 55 grams whole milk
– 3 packages rapid-rise yeast (minus the small pinch)
– 50 grams sugar
– 53 grams egg (about one large egg)
– 8 grams salt
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon cardamom
– ¼ teaspoon allspice
– ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
– Grated lemon zest from ½ lemon
– Grated orange zest from ½ orange
– 275 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
– All of the sponge
– All of the soaker
– 75 grams candied orange peel (homemade or high quality)
– 75 grams candied lemon peel (homemade or high quality)
– 198 grams (7 oz.) of marzipan, divided lengthwise into four pieces
Finishing Ingredients:
– Clarified butter
– Granulated sugar
– Powdered sugar

Ingredients


Directions

  1. The night before: Combine the soaker ingredients in a bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
  2. The night before: Combine the sponge ingredients in another bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
  3. The night before: Make candied peel
  4. Heat milk to 105-110 degrees, add the yeast, stir and let set for 10 minutes.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker, peel and marzipan. Mix on slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 5 minutes.
  6. Continue mixing at medium speed until the dough comes together around the hook and no longer sticks to the sides and bottom of the bowl, about 10 minutes. It’s important to create a strong gluten network.
  7. Add the soaker and peels and mix by hand until they are evenly distributed through the dough. The fruit/peel to dough ratio will be high.
  8. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise in a warm location until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  9. Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into four even pieces, pre-shape the dough into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  10. Shape the loaves into blunt end batards (country loaf shape). With a wooden spoon handle placed lengthwise and just off center, press down firmly making a long trough. Roll the marzipan into a rope about ½ in shorter than the batard and place in the trough. Tuck the short sides of the dough up around the marzipan and fold the smaller section of dough over the longer and seal well (it should look like a hoagie roll when finished). Pick off any fruit on the outside to avoid burning. Place batards on parchment-lined insulated (helps the bottoms from over-browning)  baking sheets (two per sheet). Cover and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm location.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. You will need steam during the initial phase of baking, so place a shallow pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven door briefly to allow any remaining steam to escape and carefully remove the pan of water. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. You will need to rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through the bake to ensure even browning. Cover loaves with aluminum foil if they are browning too quickly. Cool slightly.
  13. While the loaves are still warm, brush them with clarified butter and dredge them in granulated sugar. When cool, sift powdered sugar over the loaves. Leave the stollen out overnight to let the loaves dry out and the sugar to form a crust.
  14. To store, wrap tightly in foil at room temperature. Stollen should be allowed to rest for at least 4 days before eating, so plan accordingly. After the 4-day rest period, stollen can be frozen.
  15. To serve, unwrap, re-heat stollen in the oven, dust with additional powdered sugar if needed, slice and enjoy.

Sautéed Apples

Healthy Apple Dessert
I am a chunky monkey – the result of what I’ve been cooking lately. A diet of nothing but butter, sugar and flour for five months has taken its toll on my booty. I’ve been trying to get myself back in line – taste testing only a smidge of a recipe and freezing the rest – or giving it away to grateful neighbors.

But, you see, ‘just a taste’ is not enough for me because, well, I have dessert FOMO. If I don’t eat at least one confection each and every day, I’m convinced I’ve been deprived. So, I came up with this dessert that feels like decadence rather than depravation. There’s no butter, no refined sugar and no flour. That’s a triumph for me considering butter, sugar and flour are the Holy Trinity in my world. The Greek yogurt is as creamy as a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, but packed with protein. The apples and cinnamon provide classic holiday apple pie flavor and the healthy-fat walnuts add the necessary crunch. It’s simple, nourishing and satisfying – and a foil to dessert FOMO.


Sautéed Apples

A healthy riff on Autumn apple desserts.

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, peeled and cored
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 oz. full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped maple walnuts (optional)*

Directions

  1. Cut apple into quarters and then cut quarters into 4 slices. In a medium sized skillet, combine apples with water, cinnamon and salt. Bring to boil over medium high heat then reduce to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apple slices are tender, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place yogurt on serving platter. I made a yogurt timbale by lining a ramekin with cheesecloth, pressing the yogurt into the ramekin and then inverting the timbale onto the plate, but you can also just scoop it prettily onto whatever dish you are using.
  3. Arrange warm apple slices on and around yogurt and sprinkle with maple walnuts. Serve warm.

*Maple walnuts can be made by combining 2 Tablespoons walnuts with 1 Tablespoon maple syrup in a small sauté pan. Heat ingredients until maple syrup is vigorously bubbling, reduced and evenly coating nuts. Cool and break nuts apart before using.

Apricot Pocket Cookies

Apricot Cookies
SCENE ONE: 2:16 a.m. after their eighth date, a couple are entwined on the couch, an empty bottle of wine and two wine glasses are located on a table in front of them. A small bowl of homemade truffles sits between the glasses.

[kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: “It’s late. I should probably go home soon.”

[more kissing, kissing, kissing]

Me: “Do you want to go home…or do you want to sleep here?”

[continued kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: {silence}

Me: “It’s not a trick question.”

[more kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: {silence}

Me: “Okay…I’ll answer for you. You want to go home.”

Him: {silence}

[kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: “I guess I owe you some sort of apology or explanation.”

Oh god, please don’t apologize. That will make me feel like more of a lusty sexual deviant than I already do. And, as far as an explanation, what could you possibly tell me that would make me feel better about getting shot down for sex? I either don’t want to know or – if you have a valid excuse – this situation just became way too complicated for me.

I don’t let him give me an excuse, but I manage to think up a few of my own.

10 reasons he won’t sleep with me:
1) He finds me unattractive
2) He’s transgendered or gay and hasn’t worked up the courage to tell me
3) He has a secret girlfriend and he doesn’t want to “cheat” on her
4) He thinks sex will make me too “attached” [It won’t]
5) He’s bad in bed
6) He thinks I’ll be bad in bed
7) He has an STD
8) He thinks I’ll make him stop sleeping with other people [which is true]
9) I stink [armpit, cooch and breath check!]
10) He has ED or some other medical issue that precludes the horizontal mambo

SCENE TWO: It’s 6:00 p.m. the next evening. The same woman, alone, is curled up on the couch wearing her pj’s. Two cats sleep soundly beside her. On her lap is a platter of these cookies that she is devouring – one by one and without regret. Sometimes – most times, actually – the easiest company is our own.


Apricot Pocket Cookies

  • Servings: 27 cookies
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Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup apricot jam
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated (don’t overmix).
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 1” thick scare. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle 9” x 12”. Cut the dough lengthwise into 3 strips 9” x 4”. Spread each strip with apricot jam and sprinkle with walnuts. Starting from the long side, roll each strip into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into 1” pieces and place on a parchment or silicon lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown, 22-25 minutes.
  5. To decorate, melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every 30 minutes until smooth, about a minute. Drizzle cookies with chocolate and dust with powdered sugar.

 

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Easy Chocolate Truffles
I’ve been struggling – really struggling – to come up with header notes for my posts. I have completed stories already written; that’s not my problem. My difficulty lies in wanting to tell you about my encounter with Carlito, a charismatic Native American drug-addicted art peddler from New Mexico, and somehow tying that to my recent recipe for savory scones. I’m aware that my headers and recipes have never really synced. That red-thread between my life and my cooking has always been tangential at best. I don’t want to talk about Braeburns vs. Golden Delicious when posting an apple tart recipe – I want to tell you about the absurdity of my single girl life. But, some sort of transitional segue needs to be there – no matter how loose the connection.  There’s a file folder full of delicious anecdotes and stories, like Carlito’s, languishing on my computer like the dibs and dabs of ingredients tucked away in Tupperware on the shelves of my refrigerator, just waiting for the right moment to be used.  They never quite work with the recipe – or I forget about them.  Weeks go by and the stories become stale and moldy, never seeing the pages of this blog; eventually they’re discarded.

Speaking of those dibs and dabs, I’ve been surreptitiously sneaking spoonfuls of leftover ganache from my fridge as my nightly dessert. Yesterday, I finally decided to turn the Tupperware of half-eaten chocolate crème into something I could proudly savor in public…and serve to my guests: Chocolate Truffles. Handmade truffles look impressive, yet they are so simple to make – and a basic ganache recipe can be transformed into dozens of flavor combinations that belie the limited hands-on time in the kitchen.


Easy Chocolate Truffles

  • Servings: 2 Dozen Truffles
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The ganache can be flavored with liqueur or extracts and the finished truffles can be rolled in various coatings for flavor combinations limited only by your imagination. I kept mine classic with a straightforward chocolate ganache and coated them in cocoa powder and maple walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. dark chocolate chocolate chips (60% cocoa)
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Truffle coatings like cocoa powder, finely chopped candied nuts, chocolate sprinkles, crushed cookies or peppermint crunch

Directions

  1. Place chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  2. Using a small melon baller or spoon, scoop out truffles and roll into balls. Roll in desired coating and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Bring truffles to room temperature before serving.