As I mentioned earlier, this week’s meals will be taking on a warm comfort food type theme, probably because I was freezing when I planned the menu. First up was tonight’s dinner: Vegetarian Tex-Mex Shepherd’s Pie. There are no photos of tonight’s meal because it was possibly the most unphotogenic thing I’ve ever made, and truthfully I didn’t really like it. The flavor was fine, but I really didn’t care for the texture. The veggie mixture, although sauteed for 15 minutes, and then simmered with the bulgur for another 15, was way too crunchy. Brent actually really liked the flavor of it, and suggests making it again, with some modifications. The recipe says 4-6 servings, but we got way more than that, so I’ll be eating it for lunch over the next few days.
Dessert, however, was a total success! I’m working on potential holiday gift ideas for some packages I’m putting together, and I don’t want all traditional cookies, and I don’t want to give friends and family something I’ve already made for them. So in the spirit of finding some new ideas, I thought I’d try a biscotti recipe. I asked Brent, who I don’t believe has ever had biscotti, what flavor he would choose to eat if he could. His response was pistachio. I browsed around the internet for a while and discovered the pistachio cranberry combination is a popular one, and it sounded good to me. So it was decided. I used a few recipes for inspiration, but rounded out the flavor with two of my current favorites in the baking world: lemon zest and almond extract. Really, I’ve just been looking for excuses to put almond extract in things. I love it. I may never go back to vanilla.
Biscotti definitely have more steps and seems more complicated than other types of cookies, but it’s not really any more difficult. Here is one of the dough logs before the first baking.
After the first baking, the logs rest about 15 minutes, and then are sliced into 1/2 inch slices. It was extremely difficult for me to wait to slice these. They smelled so good. As I started slicing them, I will admit I actually ate the tiny end slice. Yum! I think it can be somewhat hard to slice them without having them crumble. The key is to use a very sharp serrated knife and slice in just a few smooth strokes. I got through it with minimal problems.
Finally after baking close to a total of 50 minutes, they’re done! I would recommend letting them cool completely, but I completely understand if that’s not a possibility for you. I love them, the kind of love that makes me want to shout from rooftops, or at the very least shout upstairs to my husband, about how delicious these cookies are. If you don’t have almond extract, I can allow you to use vanilla, but I can’t guarantee they will be as good. The nutty extract complements the pistachios so well.
Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1.5 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- 1 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- Bring 1 cups of water to boil. (I just microwave it)
- Pour hot water over cranberries in a bowl and let plump up about 10 minutes. Drain.
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Cream together butter and sugar. I love my stand mixer.
- Add one egg at a time, beating to fully incorporate into the butter sugar mixture.
- Add in lemon zest and almond extract. Beat.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, slowly. Fold together until just combined.
- Fold in cranberries and nuts.
- Dump dough out onto floured surface and divide into 2 roughly equal portions. (or you could get kind of anal about it and measure it on a scale, but truthfully, I know baking is a science, but I still don’t measure all that much. Shhh. Don’t tell Alton Brown.)
- Roll out each portion of dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch tall, 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. The dough is pretty sticky here, so it may benefit from some chill time before the rolling. You know your patience level better than I do.
- Put each rectangle onto a greased baking sheet and bake about 22 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Slice into 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal or not – your choice.
- Place slices onto a cut side and bake 10 more minutes.
- Take out of oven, flip over, and bake 9-10 more minutes.
- Let cool and enjoy with coffee or tea.
As you can see I get pretty worked up about cookies. I’m just really excited to make all my gifts this year. I’ve never really had the time before, and I think it’ll be fun to test bake all my different ideas over the next few weeks. I’m going to try some non-cookie ideas as well. If you make any of the recipes, I would really appreciate any feedback you have on them!