Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cranberry-Raisin-Spice Biscotti

The holidays, and first part of this year, have been a rough and tumble time around the Mormon Foodie house. Family health issues, along with the normal stresses of the holidays, really slowed down my output. Consequently, you missed a few things I made over the holidays. On the tasty treat front, was a tasty holiday themed Cranberry-Spice Biscotti.

In case you don’t already know, biscotti is made by baking an over-large cookie, cutting it into long, relatively thin slices, and then cooking it again, making them hard as rocks by design. They’re supposed to be dunked in some hot drink or other. In my house that means hot chocolate, herbal tisans, or Pero.

The trouble is, I still think they’re too hard. My solution? Don’t cook them for as long. I prefer my biscotti to have some “give” when I bite into it.

This recipe uses ginger, coriander, and cardamom to bring out the flavor of dried cranberries and raisins. Feel free to substitute other dried fruit as inspired. A combination of white and milk chocolate add a bit more complementary sweetness and flavor depth. This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies, making it perfect for a cookie exchange, or a gift for your home/visiting teaching families.

Equipment Needed
Large baking sheet
Parchment paper
Mixing bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Hand mixer
Plastic wrap
Sandwich bags

1 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 cup raisins, finely chopped
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

for the glaze
4 ounces white chocolate chips
4 ounces milk chocolate chips
4 teaspoons vegetable shortening

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, coriander, cardamom, ginger, and salt. Mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter together, using a hand mixer at medium speed, until light, fluffy, and well blended. Add the eggs, lemon juice, corn syrup and vanilla. Beat until blended.

Warning! The mixture may look curdled. This is perfectly normal. Don’t freak out.

Gradually add the flour mixture into the egg mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in the chopped cranberries and raisins until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half. Roll one-half on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into a 15 inch x 2 inch log, rolling it up in the plastic wrap like sushi to help you shape it. Remove from the plastic wrap and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Arrange the logs as far apart as possible on the baking sheet and press down to 3/4 inch thickness.

Bake for 30 minutes on the center rack of the oven or until browned and slightly cracked. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Keep the oven on.

Transfer the flattened logs to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into scant 1/2-inch thick slices. Lay the slices cut side down back on the parchment lined sheet. You may need a second sheet, or you can do this in batches. Bake for 5 to 7 more minutes in the oven, or longer if you want them hard. Turn them once. Remove from the sheets and let cool completely on wire racks. You can turn your oven off at this point.

Once the biscotti are cool, place them on a flat surface, like a table or a cool baking sheet, lined with wax paper.

Now to make the glaze. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the white chocolate chips and 2 tsp of the shortening. Microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is almost melted. Continue stirring until the chocolate mixture is completely melted and smooth. Pour into a small, disposable plastic bag, a sandwich bag works great, and push the chocolate to one corner. Snip a tiny bit of the corner off with a pair of kitchen scissors and pipe the melted chocolate over the cookies in thin lines. Repeat this with the regular chocolate chips, melting, mixing, and piping.

Alternately you can melt chocolate and dip the ends of the biscotti in it. I just like the way this technique looks. It’s quite impressive, but super easy to do. For more tips on how it works, see this recipe for Holiday Orange-Spice Sugar Cookies.

Let the biscotti stand for 20 minutes until the glaze hardens. Store in and airtight container at room temperature and they will keep for up to 3 weeks, assuming they aren’t eaten before then.

Makes just about 4 dozen cookies.