Chocolate Cherry-Almond Biscotti

adapted from Butter-Pecan Biscotti by King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted*

2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the almond extract, baking powder, and salt.

4. Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, until well blended.

5. Add nuts, fruit, and chips, and mix until they are well-distributed throughout the dough.

6. Place dough down the center of a lightly greased baking sheet.  With wet hands, pat dough into the shape of a log, about 12 by 4 1/2 inches.  Shape dough so that it is slightly mounded in the center, and lower on the sides.

7. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove dough from the oven and allow it to cool for about 45 minutes.  Lower oven temperature to 300°F.

8. Place log on a cutting board and, using a serrated blade, slice on the diagonal into 1 inch wide slices.  Place slices, cut side up, on an ungreased baking sheet.

9. Bake for about 20 minutes, turn them over, and bake for about 20 minutes more, or until they are golden and toasty.

* To Toast Nuts- Place nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan and bake at 350°F.  for about 7-9 minutes, or until they are golden brown and yummy smelling.  Watch them carefully so that they do not burn.

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Baci di dama

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Recipe adapted from Chocolate-Filled Hazelnut Cookies by The Best Of Gourmet-A Year of Celebrations, published by Conde Nast Publications Inc.

The recipe for these cute cookies comes from a cookbook that I purchased in Rhode Island while I was shopping with Mark’s Mom; she knows all the places to get good deals.  I only paid $3 for the 20th anniversary edition of Gourmet- A year of Celebrations. 

This recipe is from the chapter entitled Father’s Day Tuscan Dinner.  Baci di dama (Italian for Lady’s Kisses) are pretty easy to make, however I did veer a little from the original recipe; I used almonds instead of hazelnuts, I infused the dough with Fiori di Sicilia,  I added 2 extra Tablespoons butter to the dough because it was so crumbly it would not hold together well, and I made my cookies twice the size of the original recipe.  They were dangerously delicious so I sent most of them in to work with Mark and they were well received.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds, toasted and cooled

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened, but not melted

1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, optional

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup cake flour

3 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), preferably 70% cacao, chopped (I used Scharffenberger)

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Directions

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat.

3. Grind cooled almonds with confectioners sugar, in a food processor until powdery, being careful not to process into a paste.

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4. Mix together butter, zest, Fiori di Sicilia, salt, and nut mixture in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until creamy.

5. Add flour and stir just enough to mix, do not overwork the dough.

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6. Roll dough into small balls (the original recipe suggests the balls be the size of marbles, mine were about twice that size).  Arrange balls of dough about 1-2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Bake until very pale golden, about 12-14 minutes.  Remove baked cookies from baking sheets and place on a rack to cool.

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7. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, melt for 30 seconds, stir.  Continue this pattern until chocolate is completely melted.  Scrape chocolate into a plastic zip-type bag and snip the bottom corner of the bag off.

8. Squeeze melted chocolate onto the flat sides of half the cookies, top with the other half of the cookies.  Press down to adhere the cookies to the chocolate.

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Pecan Cranberry-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

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Recipe adapted from the kingarthurflour.com

All the craziness started because Danielle needed a dress for an upcoming dance.  That seemingly straightforward task has evolved into a week-long sewing jag that has kept me designing, planning, and sewing round-the-clock.  Between Mark’s work shift and my crazy sewing schedule, we’ve been hot-racking the bed and the coffee pot has been left on 24/7.  Then I woke up this morning craving the taste of oatmeal; this caused me to drop all the sewing projects that were planned (I already finished the dress) and spend an hour reading through recipes until I found this yummy cookie. Just like that, my sewing jag was over.

This cookie really is scrumptious and you don’t have to feel so darn guilty about eating a cookie that is loaded with fruit, nuts, oats and whole wheat flour (pay no mind to the butter and brown sugar).  Maybe now I’ll have time to finish my pink cheetah-print apron.  I know…sew in moderation.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon spiced rum (optional) ( I don’t like the flavor of rum so I used something called Princess Cake and Cookie Bakery Emulsion-it’s from KAF- it sorta smells and tastes like a spicy vanilla-nut blend)

2 large eggs

3 Tablespoons boiled cider (you can substitute maple syrup or dark corn syrup-I used dark corn syrup)

1 cup dried cranberries, packed

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour or Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used 1 cup of each)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets (or line them with parchment paper, or use a Silpat).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, vanilla and rum, beating until smooth.

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3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; then add the boiled cider or syrup.  Stir in the fruits and nuts, then the flour, beating gently until well combined.  Add the oats last, making sure to thoroughly disrtibute them throughout the bowl.

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4. Drop dough by rounded Tablespoons (I use a metal cookie scoop that is exactly 1 Tablespoon) onto prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between them.  Bake until the cookies are barely set on top, about 11-12 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Cocoa-Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Coffeecake

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Recipe adapted from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson

published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York

I drooled over the pages of this book trying to decide what to bake, and finally decided on this rather magnificent coffee cake.  As I pulled the ingredients from the cupboards, fridge and pantry, the unthinkable occured; I ran out of chocolate chips.  It came as quite a shock because this might be the only house in town that never runs out of chocolate chips.  So instead of all semi-sweet chips, like the recipe calls for in the batter, I substituted with bittersweet chocolate…yum!

This cake has a humble, deceiving appearance and is in reality very sumptuous.  My cake turned out a little less sweet because of the use of bittersweet chocolate, but I figured there was enough sugar in this recipe to go around.  Between the soft, moist cake and the crunchy, buttery top, it really is delicious.  This could be a special Mother’s Day treat, just wave the magic wand over the top and remove all the calories.  Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Chip Pecan Crumble Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, sieved to remove the lumps

big pinch of salt

12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

3/4 cup mimi semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Chocolate Chip Pecan Crumble Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

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2. Thoroughly mix the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter chunks and with a pastry blender (or two forks if you don’t have a pastry blender), cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is reduced to small pieces.  Stir in the pecans and the chocolate chips.  Work the mixture with your fingertips until it comes together in large and small moist, sandy-textured lumps.  Set aside.

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Cocoa-Sour Cream-Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Batter Ingredients

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate wafers-chopped a little, and 3/4 cup E.Guittard bittersweet chocolate wafers-chopped a little.  It pretty much cleaned out a lot of my chocolate stash)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups thick, cultured sour cream

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Cake Batter Directions

1. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, into a large bowl.  In a medium sized bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon of the sifted mixture.

2. Cream the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer for about 4 minutes. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla extract.

3. On low speed, add the sifted mixture in three additions with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture.  By combining the batter in this way, you end up with a soft, even textured cake.  As the ingredients are added, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula to keep the batter even textured.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the entire bowl of crumble mixture lightly and evenly over the top of the cake batter.  DO NOT press it in.   This creates a generous topping and allows the cake to bake evenly.

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5. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until set and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist pieces clinging to it.  The cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the baking pan.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.  Serve the cake, warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

Granola

Everyday-Granola-fruit-and-granola

Everyday Granola by Molly Wizenberg

courtesy of Epicurious.com

This is a basic recipe that can be varied to suit your family’s taste simply by changing the nuts, spices and fruits.  I made this batch using pecans and raisins.  However, it would be equally good made with walnuts and dried cranberries, or even slivered almonds and dried cherries.  Next time I make it I’m going to try peanut butter powder and peanuts (that is Bobby’s favorite flavor).  There are so many options.

 

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (the recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ginger, but I wanted to keep it simple)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup dried fruit

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a rimmed baking stone that has been sprayed with Pam.

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2. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the oil.  Combine all the other dry ingredients, except for the fruit, in a large bowl and stir to combine.

3. Heat the honey and oil over medium heat until it is smooth.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss well to combine.

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4. Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet and bake until it is golden, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 40 minutes.

5. Place baking sheet on a rack.  Stir the granola and allow to cool.  Add in the fruit. (I add my fruit in after I remove it from the oven, but before it is cool).  Store the granola in an airtight container, it can be made up to one week ahead.

*In the past I have added wheat germ to my granola, it imparts a nice nutty flavor.

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Jerri’s Chicken Salad

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Recipe courtesy of Jerri Parker

My sister Jerri is a great cook; She can walk through a kitchen, grab random stuff along the way from the fridge and pantry, and put it together almost effortlessly into a wonderful meal (she’s also a great pie baker).  I called her today and this is what she was making for dinner.  It didn’t occur to me to add grapes and nuts to chicken salad, but Mark loves it.  I like to use sandwich pocket bread for this salad.  I place lettuce leaves inside the bread to act as a barrier against the moist chicken salad, and also to give the sandwich more crunch. My sister also suggests that it can be served with crackers and celery sticks in place of the bread.  Either way, this is a nice variation on an old classic and a wonderful meal to serve when you’re trying to beat the heat.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients

4 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and cubed or torn into bite-sized pieces

25 grapes, either green or red (must be seedless), cut in half

1/3 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts work the best), chopped

2 Tablespoons onion, diced

celery seed, to taste (1 used 5 good shakes)

salt and pepper

slightly less than 1/2 cup mayo or Miracle Whip

2 Tablespoons mustard

hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional)

 

Directions

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1. Shred or chop the chicken and place in a large bowl.  Add the grapes, nuts, onion and celery seed, and diced hard-boiled eggs.  Look at your combination in the bowl…does it need more of anything?

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2. After you are happy with the quantities of your ingredients, add enough mayo to hold it all together and a little dab of mustard to give it some zing.  Salt and pepper it to your taste and serve in pocket bread, or in a bowl with crackers and some celery sticks.

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Linzer Hearts

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Recipe is courtesy of Fox Run Craftsmen, Ivyland, Pa. 18974

These very pretty Linzer cookies are inspired by the Linzertorte, a famous Austrian dessert.  Linzer cookies are basically a sandwich cookie, with a decorative cut-out on the top cookie.  The bottom cookie is spread with jam, the top cookie is sprinkled with powdered sugar, and then carefully placed on top of the jam. You can find special cookie cutters to make these cookies at most kitchen stores.  They usually come with several inserts to choose from (star, heart, diamond, etc.) for cutting out the top cookie.  This recipe came with my Linzer cookie cutter set.  If you do not have these cutters at home, don’t fret, just use a medium-sized cutter (about 2 inches wide) for the top and bottom cookie (circle, square, heart, etc.), then any small cookie cutter for the decorative cut-out.

I used seedless raspberry jam, but you can substitute cherry, apricot, strawberry, black currant, whatever you prefer.  If you love chocolate (and who doesn’t), substitute a chocolate glaze or frosting for the jam.  If you prefer to use chocolate, substitute orange zest for the lemon zest. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup whole nuts, hazelnuts or almonds
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
powdered sugar, for dusting cookie tops
1 cup jam, for spreading on the bottom cookies (I used seedless raspberry)

 

Directions

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1.Place nuts in a food processor and process until medium-fine in texture.

 

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2. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high, until light and fluffy.

 

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3. Add eggs and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.

 

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4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest.

 

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5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine.  Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece with wax paper or plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 30-40 minutes.

 

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6.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or Silpat.  Dust a clean surface with flour, and roll out one piece of dough to approximately 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut out about 36 cookies and transfer to the cookie sheets, leaving about an inch in between the cookies.  These will be the bottom pieces.

 

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7. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown.  Keep in mind that the time may need to be adjusted if you use a different size cutter than 2 inches, you may also wind up with a different amount of cookies.

 

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8. Place cookies on a rack to cool.  Cut out the top cookies and using a small cutter, cut out a decorative piece.  Re-roll the small pieces and continue to cut until you have an equal number of tops and bottoms.  Bake the tops for about 8 minutes and allow them to cool on a rack.

 

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9. Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on the bottom cookie.  Sift powdered sugar over the top cookie and then place it gently on top of the jam of the bottom cookie.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

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A Linzer cookie cutter with decorative inserts

 

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other cookie cutter options