Yes, you read that correctly. Christmas treats. No, you haven't been asleep for two months.
Now, before you hunt me down and lynch me, hear me out. The author of another blog, Meal Planning Magic, hosts a link-up called "12 Weeks of Christmas Treats." The idea is to start early enough to give our readers lots of ideas in advance of the Christmas season, so that you can bake them and freeze them, so there is no last-minute scramble for cookies to bring to yet another holiday party, or gifts to give to your co-workers.
Biscotti are versatile holiday cookies. You can bake them in advance and keep them at room temperature (they will keep in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks), so they won't take up room in your refrigerator or freezer, though they do freeze well for longer storage.
You can serve them with coffee after a holiday dinner, or you can give them as holiday gifts. To make them even more festive, you can dip them in chocolate and sprinkle with a little red and green sanding sugar or sprinkles.
I also like this particular recipe because most biscotti recipes I see contain some kind of nut product. While I'm not allergic, most nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.) make me sick. Vanilla is the primary flavor (rather than a complementary flavor) so be sure to use pure, not imitation, vanilla extract.
These biscotti are Italian-style, meaning they are very crisp and very dry, perfect for dunking in a hot cup of coffee. If you prefer a lighter, more tender biscotti, follow the directions in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion for American-Style biscotti.
Are you a blogger who wants to share some Christmas treats? It's not too late to sign up! Head over to Meal Planning Magic and fill out the form.
Vanilla Bean Italian-Style Biscotti
Source: King Arthur Flour's Cookie Companion
- 2 vanilla beans
- ⅔ cup (4 ¾ ounces) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (8 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or lightly grease with butter).
- Use scissors to snip the whole vanilla beans into 1-inch segments. Place them and the sugar into a mini food processor. Turn the machine on low speed and process until the bean segments are finely ground and incorporated into the sugar.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously, until light in color and thick, so that it flows off the whisk in a ribbon.
- Add the flour to the batter, and mix gently, just until incorporated.
- Scrape the dough onto the lined (or greased) baking sheet. Moisten your hands, and shape the dough into a log that is roughly 2 ½ inches wide and 14 inches long. Use a wet dough scraper to smooth and even out the top of the log.
- Bake the dough log for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set the whole baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 5 to 20 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the log to a cutting board. Use a water bottle to lightly but thoroughly mist the top of the log. Let sit for five minutes.
- Using a serrated bread knife, slice the biscotti into ½- to ¾-inch slices. Be very careful to keep your knife in a straight vertical line, so that the biscotti do not become uneven and top-heavy. You can cut straight across the log for short slices, or on an angle for longer slices.
- Set the biscotti upright on the greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake another 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
To see what other participants made for the link-up, please visit these other blogs!
Week 1, September 27, 2012