Chocolate Chip Cranberry Biscotti

I’ve learned that dried cranberries make just about anything better. Can you honestly think of one thing that dried cranberries wouldn’t go good in? Cookies – check! Granola – check! They can often be a wonderful addition to savory dishes as well, such as chicken and even omelets! I look forward to Thanksgiving every year with great ernest, knowing that it’s prime cranberry season. Last year at our Turkey Day meal, we had a cranberry port ice cream and a panna cotta pie with candied dried cranberries on top. I obviously hog the cranberry sauce as it’s passed around the table.

The gory process of cranberry port ice cream: 

I have always wanted to make biscotti and when I saw I had some cranberries in my cupboard, I figured why the heck not try throw them in. My precious bag of chocolate chips is slowly getting smaller and smaller but I’m hoping with an onslaught of American visitors coming next month, my stock will be replenished! When I was younger, I used to eat biscotti like no bodies business. I always remember cafes selling them in giant glass jars right at the check-out and I would always beg my mom or dad to buy one for me.

Having never made these before, I did some research behind these crunchy cookies. They originated in Italy, are usually almond based and are twice baked to receive that famous crunchy tecture. Originally they didn’t have any fats or yeast in them, but the recipe I used for called for a little bit of oil (I actually used butter) and some baking powder. I didn’t have any almond extract either, but added some almond flour I had, which was more understated than I imagine extract would have been, but still delicious.

These are really such an easy cookie to make, but always give off the appearnce of seeming quite complicated. I want to try making biscotti again, playing with different flours and fillings. I’m thinking a nutella biscotti is definitely in the works 😉

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti

(Adapted from Cooking Lite)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (or 1 tbs almond flour)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS: 

1) Preheat oven to 350°.

2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour and the next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

3) Combine butter, extracts, and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring until well-blended (dough will be dry and crumbly). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 7 to 8 times.

4) Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness.

5) Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch) slices.

6) Place the slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).

7) Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack. 

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Double Chocolate Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It’s snowing once again in New York. I don’t think it snowed last year for the first time until February and now it only the beginning of January and we’ve already gotten almost 30 inches of snow this winter. Crazy! It’s a good thing I don’t have anywhere to be today, because I don’t plan on leaving the house.

I would love to say that I plan on staying tucked in my bed all day, but given the extreme heater that I have no control over, my room is actually boiling hot, making it necessary that I get out of bed. It’s insane how hot my room gets. It used to be an actual sauna, but the steam seems to have been turned off, thank goodness! No matter the heat in my room, as the idea of cold snow outside still makes me just want to bake.

These cookies pack in a few of my favorite ingredients – pumpkin, oatmeal, and dried cranberries. With the addition of both regular and white chocolate chips, these cookies are a sure crowd pleaser for every taste bud. I didn’t actually have enough of either dark or white chocolate chips, so I just decided to mix them both in instead of just white. I’d say it was a good idea. These were the perfect treat to make on a day stuck indoors. I almost thought I was going to run out of sugar, but luckily had enough, as I would not have been a happy camper going outside just for a cup of sugar.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • Dash of allspice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.  Whisk to blend.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  Beat in the pumpkin puree until well incorporated.

4) With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Beat in the oats until combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries until evenly mixed.

5) Drop in small scoops (about 1½-2 tablespoons) onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2-3 inches apart.

6) Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.

7) Allow to cool on the sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

8) Enjoy 🙂

A New Year

So I have failed miserably at keeping my poor blog updated these past few weeks. I’m so incredibly sorry, but I’m back and ready to bake again in 2011! I just returned from an amazing trip to Oregon where I grew up. It was so nice to be there – I hadn’t been back in almost 3 years. I had a great time hanging out with friends, hiking, biking, shopping, and most especially, eating. There are so many places to eat in Eugene and I don’t think a day passed that I wasn’t out eating a some restaurant or bakery.

One of my favorite eating establishments happens to be in Eugene. It’s called Sweet Life Patisserie. In my opinion, it is quite possibly one of the most amazing bakeries in all the world. They actually made my brothers wedding cake almost 15 years ago when they were just starting out. They have now evolved into a beautiful bakery and cafe with an additional wedding cake showroom. I have never failed to get something delicious while I was there and this time was no exception. We got marionberry cheesecake and an opera cake, which was so rich we couldn’t even finish it. Now I’m not sure what marionberries even are exactly, but I really have only ever seen them in the Pacific Northwest and they are just amazing. They really need to import them out east.


In the midst of all my other activities in Eugene, I did manage to sneak in some time to make a really delicious cranberry chocolate torte. Now, my friend just had the recipe around her house, so I’m not sure the source, but here are some lovely photos. As you can see, I discovered a new color function on my camera 🙂

I’m excited to bake again in 2011 and can’t wait to keep you updated!

Nutty Granola

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to head upstate to spend some time at my uncle and aunt’s country house with a friend from school. I was so nice to be able to get out of the city for a bit. Their house is so nice and relaxing. We played in the snow, had a feast of a dinner on Saturday night and got to take a NIA class that my aunt teaches. It was an excellent way to spend any weekend, and if I could, I would go up all the time. Not as much homework was done as I would have liked, but oh well. The view up the Hudson was far too nice to allow me to sit down and write my essay 😉

One of the my favorite parts of our Saturday evening cooking escapades was the fact that I got to use my uncle’s nice big camera to take lots and lots of pictures of food. My aunt was making fun of me for taking pictures of food and not people, but there is just something about a good camera and food that seems to go together so well. I took so many photos of just about everything we were making – granola, ribs, veggies, even the butter. I can’t wait to someday get a good camera to use for taking pictures of food. I added a few of the other photos in addition to the granola at the end of this post. As I said, it was quite a feast. And no, I did not eat the ribs, I’m still vegetarian,  just incase you were wondering.

My uncle is the master of making granola. Everytime I go their house upstate, there are always huge canisters of the most delicious granola ever. I’ve made it with him before, but have never watched carefully what goes in it. This time, we made it together and he showed me the techniques for how he makes the best granola. As he reminded me over and over again, it’s very easy to customize granola to however you like it. If you like it extra nutty – add more nuts. If you like it more fruity – add more craisins or raisins or any other dried fruit you like. We made a huge batch, but given the rather intensive baking time it takes, it’s worth it to bake a whole big batch at once so it can last a longer time. When baking, be sure to keep an eye out on it as the edge can burn rather quickly. Once again, it’s nice to have a recipe, but granola is very adaptable, so have fun! 

UNCLE DOUG’S NUTTY GRANOLA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (Don’t chop to finely)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water
  • up to 2 cups raisins or dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F

2) In a large bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ, flax seed meal, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, and cashews.

3) In a separate sauce pan, bring to low simmer,  the oil, honey, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, spices, vanilla and water.

4) Slowly pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and mix until evenly blended. Spread in 2 9×13 greased cookies sheets.

5) Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring every 20 minutes, or until toasted. Beware of granola browning too much a the edges.

6) Reduce heat to 200 degrees F for 30 minutes

7) After 30 minutes, turn oven off and let sit for another 30-90 minutes

8 ) Store in an airtight container

9) Enjoy 🙂