Lemon Biscotti with Almonds and Chocolate

Lemon Biscotti with Almonds and Chocolate

It’s Christmas season, and we’ve forever been promising friends that we would make them a batch of biscotti cookies to enjoy with their morning coffee.  They’re originally from England and had previously supplied us with a tray of their fabulous scones, so it seemed only fair.  The other night I was lost in reading something or other that must have reminded me of our promise, because suddenly I realized that it was time to make good!  I set a reminder for myself for the next day, and when my alarm went off I began cooking.  Fun!

I’ve made biscotti before, but I don’t have any particular recipes bookmarked, so my first order of business was to decide what to make!  A quick Google search turned up a number of candidates, but I’m always partial to lemon so this particular recipe from Giada de Laurentis seemed like a great place to start.  Her recipe ends by dipping the cookies into the chocolate, but I altered it slightly so that I could include both white and dark chocolate.  The resulting cookies are quite delicious, and our British friends seemed pleased.  That’s what the holidays are about, right?  Doing the little things to put smiles on the faces of others.  Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season, too!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 3 to 4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds
  • 9 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 9 ounces dark semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • fat free skim milk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

 In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixture until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended. (The dough will be sticky). Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, space the dough evenly apart and form into 2 (9 by-3-inch) logs. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Place the chocolate chips in two medium bowls, one for the dark chocolate and one for the white chocolate. Place the bowls over pans of simmering water, making sure the bottom of each pan does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Add a small amount of skim milk to the chocolate to smooth to a consistency where it can be drizzled over the cookies.  Using a spoon, drizzle the dark chocolate over one half of each biscotti.  Repeat over that same half with the white chocolate.  Set the biscotti on a piece of wax paper until the chocolate has hardened. Store in an airtight container.

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Raspberry-Swirl Sweet Rolls

Raspberry-Swirl Sweet Rolls

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though Food & Wine Magazine has made an honest (and very welcome!) effort at becoming more accessible to the masses.  Case in point: the January 2011 trends in food issue.  My bride brought home a copy the other night, and I couldn’t help but read it from cover to cover.  It was amazing, with so many recipes and ideas that I knew my family would love.  Among them, these sweet rolls shouted out that they must be made immediately.  They didn’t have to shout too loudly, my girls are big fans of my homemade cinnamon rolls, so this was no large risk.

The recipe includes tips on how to make the rolls ahead of time, which made them perfect for a late morning, Martin Luther King Day breakfast.  I prepared the dough on Sunday evening, and while it rose we settled in for a family night with a movie.  After the initial rise, I noticed that there was quite a bit of rasberry juice which collected around the rolls at the bottom of the pan.  We were a little nervous that they were going to have a soggy texture, but how far wrong can you go with a batch of baked dough, sugar and butter, right?  Our fears were premature.  After baking, the liquid was completely absorbed, and the finished rolls had the perfect texture.  The house was filled with the delicious scent of raspberry with a hint of lemon, and we enjoyed a terrific breakfast!

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling

  • One 10-ounce package IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) raspberries, not thawed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. MAKE THE DOUGH: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over moderately low heat until it’s 95°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and stir in the sugar and yeast. Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the softened butter, eggs, grated lemon zest and sea salt. Add the flour and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 10 minutes longer.
  2. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands 2 or 3 times. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly buttered bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend up the short sides. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a 10-by-24-inch rectangle.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING: In a medium bowl, toss the frozen raspberries with the sugar and cornstarch. Spread the raspberry filling evenly over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long log. Working quickly, cut the log into quarters. Cut each quarter into 4 slices and arrange them in the baking pan, cut sides up. Scrape any berries and juice from the work surface into the baking pan between the rolls. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy and have filled the baking pan, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes, until they are golden and the berries are bubbling. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE GLAZE: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the butter and heavy cream until the glaze is thick and spreadable.
  7. Invert the rolls onto the rack and peel off the parchment paper. Invert the rolls onto a platter. Dollop glaze over each roll and spread with an offset spatula. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 4. Cover the rolls, refrigerate overnight and then return to room temperature before baking.

Notes

Variation The sweet rolls can be filled with a variety of frozen fruit. Try blackberries, strawberries, blueberries or chopped sweet cherries.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Warning – This is not your diet friendly cinnamon roll! (Is there such a thing? Should there be such a thing?)  This recipe from RecipeZaar is a proposed recreation of the Cinnabon shop recipe, and I think they’ve done an amazing job of it. My girls have been after me for the longest time to make them cinnamon rolls, and when I came across this recipe I knew I had to give it a try. This is better than anything I’ve tried in the past, and with the amount of butter and sugar I’m not surprised. This is a no-holds-barred shot across the bow of diets everywhere, and it succeeds with creamy, buttery flair. My suggestion? Have lots of cold milk on reserve!

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour

Filling

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Icing

  • 8 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Add sugar, margarine salt, eggs, and flour, mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Place dough in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 21 inches long by 16 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 thick.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make filling, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp flour in a bowl. Spread the softened margarine over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.

Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. Cut the dough into 1 3/4 inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.   (NOTE: I learned long ago that slicing this rolled up dough can be difficult. A better plan is to use a piece of dental floss, 12-15 inches long. Wrap the floss around the roll at the point you wish to make the cut, then pull the ends. The floss will cut through the dough easily, and you’ll be much happier with the results!)

Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

While the rolls are baking combine the icing ingredients. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.