It feels good to sit down.
I’m taking a minute for myself. Elf is playing on the television, my (turquoise-themed) Christmas tree is twinkling in the background, and my cat is snuggled up next to me. It’s been a busy month, and I’ve not had many moments to myself recently. I blinked, and before I knew it my December schedule was filled with meetings, holiday parties, food swaps, catering gigs, meetings, baking, cooking, crafting, and so much more.
To be honest, I sort of love the hustle and bustle of it all. I’m the queen of overcommitment and I’m always busy, busy, busy. But, that gets old quickly. In fact, it’s downright exhausting. I have to remind myself to slow down, and to take things one day at a time. I desperately want to enjoy this holiday season, and the only obstacle standing in the way of a peaceful and restful holiday is me.
But, I’m working on it. Baby steps. Tonight, I snuggled with my cat and watched Elf and all felt right.
And the cherry hazelnut biscotti? They were part of my holiday stress-reducing plan. I needed something to bring to the PDX Winter Food Swap and I needed a treat to bring to a holiday party. So I made a double batch of biscotti and I killed two birds with one stone. The biscotti were an absolute hit at each event (i.e. they disappeared quickly), they were easy to make, and they crossed two things off my to-do list. Huzzah!
I’d like to say thank you (yet again) to my sister, Danielle, for baking with me. We baked the biscotti together while her baby and my bunny played together on the kitchen floor (and made a giant – but adorable – mess). Baking is so much better with company (if I do say so myself)…
DRIED CHERRY & HAZELNUT BISCOTTI (WITH ORANGE AND CARDAMOM)
Adapted from Williams Sonoma
Note: This recipe could easily be adapted to include various dried fruits and nuts (cranberries, blueberries, dates, pistachios, almonds, pecans, etc), I just used what I had on hand. And, of course, I decided to dip each biscotti in dark chocolate…because it seemed like the right thing to do.
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried bing cherries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
12 oz. (1 bag) dark chocolate chips (I used extra dark, 60% cacao from Ghiradelli)
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat butter on high speedy, until fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add in the sugar, and continue beating until well combined. Reduce the speed to low, and add in the eggs one at a time. Mix until blended, and then mix in the vanilla.
In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. Gently stir in the hazelnuts, cherries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The dough should be very soft.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one-half onto one side of the lined baking sheet and shape into a log about 12″ long and 1.5 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining dough on the other side of the sheet, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs.
Bake the biscotti until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Gently (and carefully) transfer the biscotti “logs” to a flat surface. Using a serrated knife, cut off slices of biscotti (1/2 inch wide). Place biscotti pieces on the baking sheet (on their side) and bake for 10 minutes more, or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks.
Optional: Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips, using a double boiler. (You could always try the microwave to melt the chocolate, but you can easily overcook the chocolate and then it becomes gritty and gross. I prefer the double boiler method.) Dip each biscotti in the chocolate, coating 1/4 to 1/2 of the cookie (I just like to coat the tip of the biscotti, so I dip it 1/4 of the way in the chocolate). Carefully place each biscotti on a piece of parchment or wax paper, and allow to cool.
Store biscotti in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen biscotti.
A photo of my biscotti at the PDX Winter Handmade Food Swap