Tag Archives: biscotti

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

As I sit here watching the footage of the Chilean miners being rescued, I am struck by my own limitations (BTW, I generally like to focus on myself during situations like these).  I joked with several people today that I couldn’t even stand to be in that rescue pod for 15 minutes *above ground.*  And if there were a psychological test administered before you were allowed to go underground, I’m quite sure checking the box that says “sometimes I get panicky in the check out line at the grocery store” would disqualify me immediately.

I am just not the type of person you want around in a crisis.  Actually, I’m not the type of person you want around during a mildly stressful flu shot.

But perhaps it’s not just OK, but necessary, that some people run the race and some people bake cookies for the finish line.  Perhaps this is the reason that the rescuers have the strength to strap themselves into a cage and go thousands of feet below the ground into a caved-in mine, while their wives clutch the children and pictures of the Virgin Mary (The heathen I am, I generally clutch a Bloody Mary).  And here in the land of the soft, perhaps this is the reason that my husband flies all over the country, talks in front of hundreds of people with ease, and I stay home and bake biscotti.  In short, my husband is a tremendous risk taker and I am a tremendous risk averter.

It’s not that I’m not brave or strong (I gave birth to two children, you know) nor do I think that women are incapable of strapping themselves in and rescuing 33 miners.  Hell, some of us might like to go down that hole simply to get some quiet time.  The issue has more to do with roles than it does with gender.  Once you have children, doesn’t it just seem that both parents can’t simultaneously go balls to the wall anymore?  Doesn’t it seem that someone has to be the rock while the other person is in the hard place?  Children demand routine and stability and comfort.  So when one parent is down a mine shaft or on a plane to L.A., the other one has to be pouring the cereal at 8:00 AM sharp and reading the favorite two (OK, three) stories at 8:00 PM sharp.

Maybe I am risk averse because that’s who I have to be.

Or maybe that’s how I justify the fact that I enjoy eating biscotti and hate enclosed spaces.

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Makes 15-18 biscotti

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 star anise pod
1-1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 small piece of whole nutmeg (about the size of a nickel, or 1/4 t pre-ground)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 t vanilla extract)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (hulled and dry roasted or toasted)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  Using a clean spice or coffee grinder (I have a second coffee grinder that I use exclusively for spices), grind the star anise pod, the cinnamon stick, and the piece of whole nutmeg until they are a fine powder.  Add this spice mixture to the flour mixture.  (If you like your biscotti extra spiced, double up on the spices. Alternatively, if you don’t want to grind your own spices, just make a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices like anise seed to equal 1 t.)

4.  In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Split the vanilla bean in half and, using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds from both sides of the pod.  Add seeds to butter and egg mixture and beat to incorporate.

5.  Add the flour/spice mixture to the butter mixture in two additions and beat until just combined.  Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir to make sure the flour is incorporated.  Stir in cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

6.  Turn dough onto parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a long loaf, approximately 3.5 inches by 15 inches.  Bake loaf for about 35 minutes, until just golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

7.  Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut individual biscotti from the loaf — each about 3/4 inch.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the parchment lined sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and flip.  Bake 10-12 minutes more and remove from oven (about 20 minutes total for the second stage of baking). Remove biscotti from sheet and cool on racks.

8.  Place chopped white chocolate in a double boiler to melt.  You can also use the microwave at about 50% power.  When biscotti are completely cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate.  Place in refrigerator until chocolate is hardened.  Remove from refrigerator and store biscotti in a tightly sealed container.

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherry Biscotti

If I were to make a list of things that change when you have kids, trips to the coffee shop wouldn’t even make the top 25. Because pretty much every thing you do as a human being during the course of a day is impacted by children.  Eating, sleeping, working, cooking, going to the bathroom, vacations, cleaning, driving, restaurants, grocery stores, doctor’s appointments, shopping, exercising … the list could go on for, umm, days.  I really wish someone would have told me that children change everything.  Oh wait, they did.

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But I do think back to those unencumbered trips for a cup of coffee when I could read the newspaper or think about a project without breaking up fights and cleaning up spilled hot chocolate.  And I have come to realize that your fellow coffee shop patrons will dread the sight of you walking in with children because their blissful, quiet newspaper reading is about to come to an end.  And so, you have four options:  1) Say “I don’t effin’ care” and take the kids anyway, 2) Give up trips to the coffee shop, 3) Only patronize coffee shops with drive thrus (I’m a big fan of coffee shops with drive thrus), or 4) Bring the coffee shop home.

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Number four makes sense, actually.  At home, the cost of the coffee is actually in line with, umm, the price of coffee — as opposed to some sort of liquid golden petroleum that cures cancer.  Your kids can run free around the house and watch Dora or color on your walls — so no dirty looks from the kidless crowd.  You can use fair trade, organic coffees with local or organic milk.  You can use your own wireless for free.  You don’t have to pretend to enjoy that random Latin Jazz artist.  And you can make your own biscotti where you control the ingredients!

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So, while I still have no ability to make a heart in my foamed milk, I can make a pretty decent biscotti.  This one is whole grain with additional wheat germ and ground flax, lightly sweetened with honey, and studded with dark chocolate and dried cherries.  I don’t like my biscotti to make me feel like I am going to break a tooth, so I keep mine more on the tender side.  But if you like them harder, you can cut them thinner and/or bake them longer.

I can’t promise you that the coffee experience will be the same as the days before kids, but the biscotti will be a lot better.

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherry Biscotti

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (from about 6 oz. of chocolate)
3-4 oz. additional dark chocolate, melted (optional for dipping after biscotti are cooked)

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir together white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, ground flax, wheat germ, salt, and baking powder.

3.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and honey for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one a time and mix until incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and mix.

4.  Mix dry ingredients (flour, etc.) into butter mixture in about three separate additions.  Mix until just combined and then switch to a wooden spoon or spatula.  Stir in cherries and dark chocolate.

5.  Shape cookie dough into a flattened 4 inch by 12 inch log.  Try to square it off on the ends and keep it uniform in thickness.

6.  Bake the log for 30 minutes until just golden.  Remove from oven, slide log (on parchment) onto a cooling rack, and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

7.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.  Carefully transfer the log to a cutting board (Man, I wish I could come up with a better term than log.  It is starting to seem obscene.).  Using a very sharp knife, slice into 3/4 inch biscotti and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Arrange on baking sheet with the cut side up. (You should end up with about 16-18 biscotti).  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.  (Slightly longer baking times will produce crunchier biscotti.)

8.  Remove from oven and transfer biscotti to cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely and drizzle with melted dark chocolate (if desired).

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