Thursday, October 29, 2009

Playing... Cranberry Biscotti

Playing with my food... I like to take a recipe and make it my own.  For example, I began with a cranberry biscotti recipe and turned it into a white chocolate dipped cranberry biscotti with Grand Marnier.  The changes I made to the basic recipe are highlighted with an asterisk.  The next time, I would add more Grand Marnier or, use melted dark chocolate flavoured with Grand Marnier. 

Cranberry Biscotti
Ingredients:  (to make approximately 3 dozen biscotti)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract (**replaced with Grand Marnier)
3/4 tsp orange or lemon extract (**replace with Grand Marnier)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground mace (**could subsitute nutmeg)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, slightly chopped (**could substitute dried blueberries, dried cherries, currants)

**approx. 250 gr good quality (Lindt or Callebaut white or dark chocolate, melted for dipping**
** 1/2 cup whole almonds or hazelnuts or other nut of your choice**

2 tsp milk and sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a shelf in the center position.  Grease (or line with parchment paper) a large baking sheet.

2.  Beat the eggs until foamy in the large bowl of an electric mixer; gradually beat in the sugar, then beat at high speed until pale and light.  Beat in the cooled shortening, vanilla and orange or lemon extract.  If you are substituting Grand Marnier, add it now.

3.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, mace and salt.  With the mixer running at low speed, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix the dough well.  Mix in the cranberries (and the nuts if using).  The dough will be somewhat soft.

4.  Spoon half the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, making a strip about 10 inches long.  Repeat with the second half, leaving 3 inches between the strips.  Using your fingers lightly moistened with water, form each strip into a loaf shape, 2.5 inches wide and slightly higher in the middle than at the sides.  Smooth the surface with a pastry brush dipped into the milk and sprinkle the loaves with sugar.

5.  Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and lower the oven setting to 300 degrees F.

6.  Cool the loaves on the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully place them on a rack to cool an additional 10 minutes.

7.  Move the loaves to a cutting board, and using a serrated knife, cut them crosswise at a slight diagonal into slices between 1/3 and 1/2 inch thick.  Lay the slices flat and close together on the baking sheet.

8.  Bake for 10 minutes, turn the slices and bake an additional 7-8 minutes.  The slices should be light gold in colour.

9.  Cool the biscotti completely on a rack.

10.  In the meantime, slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a simmering pan of water.  When the biscotti is cooled, dip one end in the chocolate, letting the excess drip off.  Place the biscotti on a rack to cool and allow the chocolate to set.  Store the biscotti in an air-tight container for two or three weeks.

These make great Christmas or Hostess gifts.

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