There is never a wrong season to enjoy a cookie; however, there might be a right cookie for a certain time of year. Embracing fall and winter is all about creating that balance: outside the world becomes cold and somewhat bleak, while inside with our fires, and blankets, and festivities there is a rich cozy which, spring and summer, in all their glory, simply do not possess.
Biscotti pair into this duality seamlessly. A hot cup of cider, tea, coco, coffee, mulled wine . . . they each have a cookie dunking partner for your snuggling, scarf knitting delights. They also are perfect for shipping, as you think of winter care packages or holiday gifts, biscotti in a tin or sealed tupperware, will last 3 weeks and still taste great. A triumph not many baked goods can claim.
Below I offer a basic recipe, which you can dress up to fit your fancy, from a sophisticated little treat to a decadent, shamelessly untraditional full on dessert in hand held form.
The pictures show my favorite combination, crystalized ginger and cardamon - perfect with a cuppa tea, sublime with homemade chai.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1-1 1/2 cups add-ins, see below
Crystalized Ginger and Cardamon: 1 1/3 cup crystalized ginger, chopped if in strip form, 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamon, 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Add the spices in at the beginning when you are creaming the sugar, vanilla and butter. Add the ginger bits towards the end. Delicious with teas, cocos, and hot toddy's.
Nut and Chocolate: 1 tsp lemon or orange zest if you like a slightly more complex taste, added in to the creaming butter stage. 1 1/3 cup chopped nuts (hazelnuts or almonds are most traditional, yet objectively pecans or walnuts could work as well). You'll mix in the nuts just before forming the log. You can add chocolate chips to the dough instead here; however, part of the chocolate will burn during the second bake. I prefer to use chocolate to coat the biscotti once cooled, to prevent any potential bitterness, and then you have this silken chocolate exterior which melts a bit with each dunk. Dark, milk, or white chocolate - is completely up to you. As is, these are delightful with coffee, coco, or mulled wine if you are a red wine, chocolate, nut, fruity person. For children's coco (or your own) before the chocolate sets, you can also roll them in mini marshmallows, crushed peppermints, crushed malted milk balls, or even red hots.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper, or if you don't have it as I didn't yesterday, foil with some cooking spray works just as well.
Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend.
Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl to blend.
Beat in the eggs.
Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended.
Stir in the your add-ins be they nuts, ginger, or possibly dried fruit
Form the dough into a log on a prepared foil sheet or parchment. They recommend about a foot long and about 3-inches wide; however, I have yet to bring a ruler out. The imperfect ones are for the cook's pleasure, and I have yet to meet anyone who would deny themselves a cookie based upon a measurement.
Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes.
Cool for about 30 minutes.
Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices.
Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 10 minutes per side.
Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.
If you are adding on a chocolate layer - usually about 14 oz of chocolate is enough to coat this batch. Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with any other fanciful delights. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.
What I Can Do, by Mary Oliver
The television has two instruments that control it.
I get confused.
The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate?
Honestly, I just want clean.
Everything is like that.
I won't even mention cell phones.
I can turn on the light of the lamp beside my chair where a book is waiting, but that's about it.
Oh yes, and I can strike a match and make a quite the fire.