First of all, sorry I haven’t posted in a little bit. My boyfriend and I just got back from our vacation in Las Vegas! We had a fantastic time, even though it was ridiculously hot. I can honestly say that I have never sweated that much in my entire life. I probably lost at least 5 pounds in water weight, which I, unfortunately, more than made up for with all the fabulous food that we ate. Our two favorite restaurants were La Salsa in Caesar’s Palace and the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grille at the MGM Grand. La Salsa finally gave me the chance to prove to Matt that Mexican food can be so much better than most of the stuff we have in Michigan. I lived in Texas for 8 years, and sorely miss the amazing Mexican food we used to get down there. Wolfgang Puck’s was a little bit more upscale and fancy, but their food was absolutely delicious. I got the ricotta gnocchi, and the bolognese sauce that came with it was hands down the best I have ever had. Ever. So, if you ever go to Vegas, make sure to check those two restaurants out!
We definitely didn’t come home any richer than we were when we left, and much to the disappointment of my parents, we didn’t get married while we were down there, either. Nevertheless, it was a great and much needed vacation!
But now, back to the cooking…
I made biscotti for my mom a few days before we left for Vegas. Biscotti are long, crunchy Italian cookies made for dipping in coffee (though they’re pretty delicious dipped in milk, too). Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of them. I like my cookies soft and chewy, and these definitely are not either. But, on the bright side, they do taste good dipped in milk, which softens them a little bit. And what cookie doesn’t taste better after it’s been dipped in milk? They’re my mom’s favorite, so I try to make some for her every few weeks. Plus, most biscotti don’t have any butter or oil in them, so they’re a lot healthier than say, a chocolate chip cookie.
This recipe does call for butter, which is the only one I’ve ever seen that does. The butter makes them a little bit softer, and more cake-like, which I actually prefer. Make sure and fully zest the oranges so that you get a nice punch of orange flavor. You can substitute some other kind of dried fruit if you’re not a fan of cranberries, but I think that the cranberry and orange flavors work really well together here.
The preparation for these can get a little bit complicated — most call for a little bit of kneading before shaping into one or two logs of a certain length and thickness. I’ve done it the long way, and then I’ve done it my mom’s way, which means dumping the dough onto a greased cookie sheet, and then flattening it down with my hands into a somewhat log-shaped mound. They turn out great either way. So, if you want to do it the long way the first time, just to get the real, fancy biscotti-making feeling, go for it! But if you’re pressed for time, the shortcut way will work just fine.
Don’t, however, skip the second bake time step. In order for these cookies to get really hard and crunchy, they need to be baked twice.
Orange Cranberry Biscotti
Makes 20-30 biscotti, depending on thickness
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. orange zest (roughly 2 oranges, fully zested)
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries
3/4 c. toasted and chopped almonds
1) Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Stir in orange zest and juice.
2) Sift together the flour, baking power and salt, then stir into the creamed orange mixture.
3) Fold in the cranberries and almonds.
4) On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times, just until it is smooth. Separate the dough in to two equal halves.
5) Roll each half into a log about 1.5 inches wide and 10 inches long (but seriously, don’t whip out the measuring tape or anything…an approximation will work out just fine). Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
6) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until firm to the touch and slightly browned around the edges.
7) Cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortably touch the baked logs.
8 ) Using a long, serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise, at a diagonal, into roughly 1/2 inch slices. Place each slice cut-side down on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the cookies over, and bake for 10 minutes more.