16 December 2008
It snowed over the weekend. It wasn't a blizzard. It didn't bring the region to a grinding halt or leave us snowbound but, for a little while, magical white flakes fell and frequent gusts of wind caught them in a playful dance. People bundled up and stamped snow from their shoes as they came inside. The roads got slick and we had to drive home from church carefully. Along the way we saw two overturned vehicles on the side of the highway and passersby drove cautiously under the speed limit.
Yesterday schools were closed and it seemed like a good day to turn on some Christmas tunes and snuggle up beside a fire. It was also a good day to turn on the oven and do some holiday baking. I checked my ingredients carefully since I didn't want to have to go out to buy more and canceled my plans for the day including my usual stop by the coffee shop.
At this time of year I have to admit I'll miss that stop at Starbucks. It's not about the coffee really. I can make fine coffee at home. The thing I'll miss is the seasonal Gingerbread Biscotti. I have adored Starbucks' Gingerbread Biscotti for years and look forward to having it with my coffee during December. I love to dip it into a cup of Christmas Blend or an Extra Hot Toffee Nut Latte, bite back to the crunchy part and let the warm saturated cookie dissolve in my mouth leaving a tingly note of holiday spice on my tongue.
Since I wasn't going to leave the house if I didn't have to yesterday I decided it was time to make my own. In fact, ever since I discovered Gingerbread Biscotti I have been thinking about it. I have made other flavors of biscotti before, so the cookie itself is not a new challenge, it's just that I could never settle on the best approach to approximate the flavor and texture of the ones I have come to like so well.
Yesterday, as I looked out the window at a clear blue sky and the sunlight reflecting brightly off the snow, I felt ready. I settled on a recipe I had clipped from Recipe Goldmine, increased the amount of spices adding a few more of my favorites, decreased the candied ginger (since I had little on hand after making several Old-Fashioned Gingerbread cakes recently) and decorated with just a drizzle of white chocolate.
The result on my first try was much better than expected, in fact they were almost exactly what I hoped for in texture and flavor. Next time I think I will add a little more candied ginger and substitute macadamia nuts for the almonds. I might also add a little more ground black and ancho chile pepper, but that’s just me. The recipe is well worth making as it is.
adapted from www.recipegoldmine.com
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
2 Tablespoons minced candied ginger
1 cup slivered almonds
white chocolate for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy.
Add the eggs. When combined, blend in the molasses.
Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper and chile powder until incorporated.
Fold in the candied ginger and nuts.
Divide the dough in half and turn onto a lightly greased baking sheet. With greased hands, shape each half into a log approximately 3 or 4 inches wide and 1 inch high. Make sure the logs are at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven.
Reduce heat to 300 degrees.
Cool Biscotti for 10 minutes then remove them from the pan and place them on a cutting board.
Carefully cut each log into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices back on the baking sheet, cut side down.
Place the baking sheet back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, turn the biscotti over and bake for an additional 10 minutes on the other side.
Remove from oven and let cool.
When the cookies are cool, melt 1/4 cup or so of white chocolate. When the chocolate is smooth place it in a ziploc sandwich bag and seal the bag shut. Squeeze the chocolate into a lower corner and snip 1/8 - 1/4 inch from the corner of the bag. Squeeze the chocolate out onto the cookies in a zigzag motion for decoration.