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. 

July Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

My first Daring Bakers challenge is finally ready! I’m always reading my blogroll and seeing all the amazing recipes that come from the Daring Bakers. A few months ago I applied to become one myself and was finally admitted into the club 😉 to start baking for the month of July.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. At first, I looked at the recipe – which was 13 pages long – and said to myself “this will be my one and only Daring Bakers challenge.” I had no idea how – between work, going to Israel this past week for a wedding and everything else on my plate – I was going to be able to complete this multi-step recipes. After spending a lot of time reading the recipe on the subway rides to and from work, I realized that, while there were many components to this cake, they were actually not that difficult to make, you just had to give yourself freezing time.

Because of the freezing times needed for the ice cream, I split up the recipe into multiple days. I made the ice cream one day, the cakes another, and put it all together on the day of a dinner party my roommate and I put together in order to feed the cake to some friends. We quickly realized that even five of us were not going to be able to eat all of it and almost two weeks later there is still some sitting in our freezer.

As I said before, the different components of the cake were not actually that difficult to make; in retrospect, they were quite simple (although as usual, my faulty oven never fails to overbake the edges of my cakes.) I’d never thought of making ice cream before without an ice cream machine, but this method of mixing up cream and sugar makes you realize how easy it is to make your own ice cream. I even bought a vanilla bean! Something I had never done before. I know that you’re allowed to modify the recipes to a certain extent, but given that this was my first challenge, I decided to follow the original recipe to a tee. Even after following the recipe exactly, for some reason, my chocolate ice cream decided not to freeze all the way through, so while the fudge sauce froze solid, the chocolate ice cream turned more into a sauce.

After having completed this first challenge, I now understand why so many people call themselves Daring Bakers. It’s such a fun way to learn new and exciting things about baking – I’d never even heard of a swiss roll before – and there are so many other people making it, that someone has likely made the same mistake you did and is willing to help. I’m really looking forward to next month’s challenge, which will be made in my new apartment. WOOT WOOT!