This is a guest post from Diane Schreiber. An avid cook and trained baker, Diane travels the world through food with her husband and two girls.
Come December, I seek out roaring fires, hot festive drinks and holiday sweets. I pass up the yule logs, I politely decline the eggnog, but I cannot pass up a good cookie. As my 5 year old says, we are a family of cookie monsters. Each year I make the time honored favorites, my Aunt Judy’s treasured Baklava, my Aunt Ann’s Kourambiedes (greek butter cookies) and my husband’s favorite Orange-Scented Chocolate Chip Cookies but I always like to add new recipes to my repertoire. Where do I find these new gems of cookie goodness, you might ask? The cookie exchange!
The cookie exchange is a time honored tradition, where friends, neighbors and well cookie lovers prepare their own favorites and bring a few dozen with copies of the recipe to share. I have found a few over the years that I covet and share but the go to year after year is the dried cherry pistachio biscotti. Sweet and lovely, a perfect foil for an amazing cup of coffee and a great packable and shareable homemade gift. It is part of all of our pretty displayed gift packs.
Biscotti is one of the easiest cookies to make. Seriously. With a hand or stand mixer and a few humble ingredients you can deliver an amazingly elegant cookie. Want to add some decadence, dip them in chocolate ganache (recipe to follow)
Dried Cherry Pistachio Biscotti
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs , plus 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
- 3/4 cup dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Add the two whole eggs one at a time then the vanilla.
Now add the dry ingredients: mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, fold in the pistachios and dried cherries.
Divide the dough in half and roll the dough into 2 logs. The dough will be sticky, don’t worry! Add water to your hands and form two logs. Beat the egg white with a splash of water. Brush the logs with the egg white and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Transfer to a sheet pan and place at least 3 inches apart. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven let cool for 10 minutes. Remove logs to a cutting board and slice on the bias about 3/4 inch thick. Lay the biscotti back on the sheet pan and return to the oven for another 10 minutes — flip biscotti after 5 minutes. This will harden the biscotti. Cool completely on a rack.
2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chopped block chocolate
Bring a saucepan with 1-inch of water in it to a boil. Put the chocolate in a large metal or heatproof glass mixing bowl and place on top of the saucepan with boiling water. Pay careful attention that the mixing bowl does not touch the surface of the boiling water. Stir the chocolate until it is almost completely melted. Remove it from the saucepan and continue stir until the chocolate is completely melted. This entire process should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Dip each biscotti in the chocolate to cover half of each and then dip in the sprinkles or candy cane pieces. Set each piece on the lined cookie sheet to allow the chocolate to harden. Store in a cool place in air-tight containers. Try not to eat them all at the same time.
From Anne: Martha Stewart Makes Cookies App
Need more inspiration for holiday cookie baking? I’ve fallen in LOVE with the Martha Stewart Makes Cookies iPad application and am doing almost all of my cookie baking from it this season. Also available for the iPhone, this beauty has everything you’d need to make some of your favorite cookies – complete with self timers, video instructions and exported shopping lists. We prop up the iPad on the counter with the kids and they get to learn how to make cookies like a pro!