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.

Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

irish-bread-pudding-with-whiskey-caramel-sauce

Do you stay true to your holiday traditions?  In our house, our St. Patrick’s Day tradition is Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce.  We might play with the menu somewhat, a new variation on a corned beef reuben, perhaps an alternative like salmon.  But never the dessert.  For years now, I’m thinking seven, we’ve made this recipe to celebrate St. Pat’s.  We may have even made it one time on another occasion, but after that we decided that if it were to be special we could only do it on a special day.  And thus, our tradition was born.

Another tradition was that I’d need to attempt to make the sauce at least twice before I’d get it to work.  The recipe is fairly straightforward , as you’ll see below.  And yet, every year I’d make one wrong step and end up with a pan of solid, crystallized sugar.  And part of my tradition was to get red in the face and loudly utter a string of words to embarrass any Irishman within earshot.  But for whatever reason, this year I got it right.  I took it slow, and I was relaxed, and in a single try I made the best batch of sauce that I ever have.  It was a delight, and everyone in the house raved at how wonderful it was.  St. Pat’s only comes once a year, and with it comes this fantastic bread pudding.  Give it a try!

Ingredients:

Bread Pudding

  • 1/4  cup  light butter, melted
  • 1  (10-ounce) French bread baguette, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2  cup  raisins
  • 1/4  cup  Irish whiskey (Note: Substitute 1/4 cup apple juice for the Irish whiskey, if desired.)
  • 1 3/4  cups  1% low-fat milk
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  (12-ounce) can evaporated skim milk
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

Caramel Whiskey Sauce

  • 1 1/2  cups  sugar
  • 2/3  cup  water
  • 1/4  cup  light butter
  • 2  ounces  1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel) (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4  cup  Irish whiskey (Note: Substitute 1 tablespoon imitation rum extract and 3 tablespoons water for the Irish whiskey, if desired.)
  • 1/4  cup  1% low-fat milk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brush melted butter on one side of French bread slices, and place bread, buttered sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake bread at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.

Combine raisins and whiskey in a small bowl; cover and let stand 10 minutes or until soft (do not drain).

Combine 1% milk and next 4 ingredients (1% milk through eggs) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add bread cubes and raisin mixture, pressing gently to moisten; let stand 15 minutes. Spoon bread mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over pudding. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until set.

For sauce, combine sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until golden (do not stir). Remove from heat. Carefully add butter and cream cheese, stirring constantly with a whisk (mixture will be hot and bubble vigorously). Cool slightly, and stir in whiskey and milk.

 Serve bread pudding warm with Caramel-Whiskey Sauce.