It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I am so excited. I just love this time of the year. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had an incredible love of Christmas music, festive twinkling lights, beautifully decorated trees, candlelight Christmas Eve church services, and, of course, baking. All that glorious holiday baking. I love the way the house smells, the sound of the whirring mixer, and even those pesky (but oh so nostalgic) red and green sprinkles that find their way into every nook and cranny of the kitchen. I am so glad to dive into the baking ritual every year. As funny as it may sound to nonbakers, the mounds of flour, butter, sugar, chocolate chips, and nuts are very calming. I know you all understand.
I’m so glad this biscotti was my first holiday treat of 2011–it’s just so Christmas. Aside from the obvious color combination, the flavors were right on. The tart cranberries, warm anise seed, and sweet white chocolate were so perfectly balanced. The recipe called for natural pistachios, but I used salted pistachios for that salty-sweet deliciousness I love. I have to say, these biscotti were actually also wonderful without the chocolate. In fact, I think I preferred them this way for breakfast.
As if these treats needed another reason to be so awesome, I am glad to say they keep for quite some time. The original recipe says they are good, stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container, up to five days. This makes them perfect for keeping around the house during Christmas weekend, tucking in treat tins, or even mailing to friends and family.
With that, readers, I offer you my first “Merry Christmas” of the season. I hope it finds you warm, healthy, happy, and among those you love.
Holiday Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachios
6 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 TBSP lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. whole aniseed
1 c. dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 c. shelled natural unsalted pistachios
4-6 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with
silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a separate medium bowl.
3. Beat eggs into butter mixture one at a time then mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and aniseed.
flour mixture in two additions, mixing until just blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios
(dough may be slightly sticky).
5. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.
Gather dough together, then divide in half. Roll each half into a log, about 15-in. long
log and 1 1/4 inches wide. Carefully transfer logs to one of the prepared
baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.
6. Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale,
about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven
7. Carefully transfer logs to cutting
board. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise
into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, one cut side down, onto the other baking sheet. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9
minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.
8. Line original baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir white
chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until
smooth. Remove from over water. Drizzle chocolate over biscotti or dip 1 end into melted
chocolate, tilting pan if necessary; shake off excess chocolate. Place
cookies on prepared sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30
minutes. (Makes approx. 3 dozen biscotti. Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of
waxed paper at room temperature.)
one year ago: Moroccan-spiced chicken tagine
three years ago: lightened up butternut squash soup