Monday, January 21, 2008

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

The word "biscotto" means "biscuit" or "cookie." Specifically, biscotti are named according to their method of baking. The root words "bis" and "cotto" mean "twice" and "baked." When Italians first created biscotti in the region of Tuscany many centuries ago, they were to baked twice, in order to form their signature shape and allow the cookies to develop their crisp texture. Over the years, this became standard practice. Bakers shape the dough into a log, bake it, evenly slice it into cookies and then toast and turn the cookies again until they are perfectly crisp and ready for snacking with tea or coffee.

I hope you enjoy my variation of this beautifully unique cookie!

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

In Kitchen Aid with paddle or electric mixer, beat well:

1/2 stick unsalted butter (room temp.)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
(a touch of lemon or orange zest is nice in here too)

add 1 whole egg and 1 egg white

Mix in slowly by hand with a wooden spoon:
2 - 2 1/2 c. flour (start with the 2 cups, if you need more to make it firm enough not to stick to your hands, slowly add up to 1/2 cup more, as needed)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

When mostly mixed add in:
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries (I like the Ocean Spray orange flavored ones, but you can totally leave these out if you don't like them)

Your dough should be just a little sticky, but firm enough to be able to be easily patted into a log form with flour dusted hands.

I like to use a Silpat to bake on, but you can also spray a little Pam on a baking sheet and form the dough into a log about a foot long and 3 inches wide, flattening the top a little as you go. The log should be about 3/4 inch tall at most.

Bake at 350* for about 30-35 minutes until barely golden and firm.
Reduce oven temp to 300*.
Remove from the oven, let the log cool about 15 minutes, cut into 1/2 inch slices with a serrated knife. Careful, these can crumble easily.

Lay the slices back on the baking sheet and return to oven for 15-20 minutes.
I like to line them up on their bottoms so both cut edges are exposed to the oven heat.

Cool before packaging up or storing to retain crunch. Great with tea or coffee!

Opt: Let the slices cool uncovered and drizzle a fine-quality white chocolate over one side and lay them on wax paper lined cookie sheet. (Melted chocolate can be poured into a ziplock bag with one tiny corner snipped off as a make-shift pastry bag.)
Cool off in frig to set chocolate...enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Let's start off with a bang!

Greetings! or should I say Eatings! To my little culinary journey for the best of the best. Here we will delve into the Tried and True. A recipe is a recipe, but one that has been researched and practiced is a thing of beauty.
Along with the recipes posted, I will provide photos as well. I don't know about you, but a visual reference sure makes a difference to me!

When Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake!" she certainly didn't mean cheesecake, but if she had, maybe the peasants wouldn't have revolted. This version of Turtle Cheesecake is not only simple to make, but will rival the one you buy for $7 a slice at that um..."Factory" place. Enjoy a little slice of paradise. I said a slice people, this confection is so rich I cannot be responsible for the subsequent pounds that may ensue if you go hog wild ;)

please use an 8" springform pan, spray with Pam.

*5-6 oz. oreo cookies (about a dozen cookies), crushed
*2 T. butter, melted
mix those together, press in pan and bake at 350* for 10 mins.remove from oven and let it cool 5 mins or so. (This would be a good time to toast a 1/2 c. chopped pecans while your crust is baking.)

*1 bag Carmel Hershey's Kisses

Ok, you might not need all of these but I'm sure you'll find something to do with the few that are left over *wink* Take the wrappers off and layer them on the crust, no need to shove, there's room for everyone. Pointy side up please!
sprinkle over kisses:

*1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped.

Next, in mixing bowl with an electric mixer:
*3 pkg. cream cheese, room temp.
*2/3 c. sugar

mix well til lumps are gone then whisk in:
*3 eggs (I know a lot of recipes will tell you to add eggs one at a time. But, I've never had a cheesecake bake into a hockey puck or grow hair if I add them all at once.)
*1/4 c. sour cream
*1 T. flour
*1 t. vanilla

blend well and pour over kisses. (You may put a shallow dish of water on a lower rack in the oven to keep the humidity up while baking your cheesecake.) Put back in the oven at 350* for 10 mins. then lower temp to 325* for another 25 mins. Cheesecake is done when you shake the pan gently and it will wiggle as one mass...if its only jiggly in the middle (No...not my lovehandles, how rude of you to think that) its not done yet. Turn off oven, crack the door slightly and let it sit there for 30 mins then finish cooling on counter. Chill before serving. wont be sorry =)
ok, you may feel guilty, but its a good guilty ^_^


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