The week of Christmas means many holiday traditions for everyone, but a classic that will be hard to ever part with is baking endless assortments of goodies for both extended families to enjoy throughout the week. Baking is always therapeutic for me, whether it’s the satisfaction of finishing a project working with my hands, the inescapable aroma that fills the entire house, the occasional quality control tasting along the way, or the rewarding factor when loved ones go crazy over my food. I’d like to say I deserve a few cookies while still prolonging the end-of-another-kick-butt-semester celebration. On top of that, what better way to celebrate after another A+ dentist appointment today and twenty years of no cavities than with a little sugar? (side note – I think it’s really ironic that I and several other pre-dent/dental student friends I know love to bake sweets…guilty pleasure, creative hobby, or drumming up business?)
This year, I resisted the urge to go on an out-of-control-butter-and-sugar-fest and limited myself to just two kinds this year and only made enough to bring to each family gathering (my skinny legging jeans will thank me later). Both are sure to be crowd-pleasers and are the perfect companion to a cold glass of milk Christmas Eve or that hot cup of coffee Christmas morning.
Mocha Almond Biscotti (adapted from Kitchen Simplicity)
2 – 2.5 T instant coffee
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1.5 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
Dark Chocolate Chips
Whisk together eggs and instant coffee until coffee is dissolved. Add vanilla.
Beat butter and sugar in a separate bowl until well blended. Add egg mixture and beat to combine.
Stir together flour and baking powder; gradually stir into butter mixture until well blended. Stir in almonds and chips (to taste).
Divide dough in half and roll each, on a baking sheet lined with a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, into 14 inch logs; placing them at least two inches apart.
Bake at 325ºF for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool 10 minutes and then slice each log into 18 (3/4 inch) slices. Bake an additional 7-10 minutes, flip, and bake another 7-10 minutes, or until crisp and dry. Cool completely before storing, covered, at room temperature.
Makes: 36 (3 dozen) biscotti
Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Cooking Classy)
Yield: 3 dozen
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder*
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp all vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp red food coloring
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt, set aside. Add butter, shortening and sugar to the bowl of an electric stand mixer and mix on medium speed until very pale and fluffy about 4 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and mix until combine. Add vinegar, vanilla and food coloring and mix until well blended. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Mix in 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Scoop dough out by the heaping tablespoonfuls (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) and roll into balls and place on buttered or Silpat lined cookie sheets. Gently press about 6 white chocolate chips into the top of each cookie, being careful not to flatten the cookies (if you do flatten them a bit just reshape them to the height they had before adding the chips) and bake in preheated oven 8 – 9 minutes. Allow to cool several minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in an airtight container.
*If you want a more chocolaty cookie you could replace 1 – 2 Tbsp flour with an additional 1 -2 Tbsp cocoa, the red just won’t be quite as vibrant. Or, you could replace the white chocolate chips with chocolate chips.
Speaking of cookies, I’m heading to bed now so I can wake up at a decent hour and actually get a good run in tomorrow morning before all the Christmas celebrations begin. If I don’t get a chance to post again before Christmas, I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas with loved ones, and I hope we all can keep our hearts centered on the real reason we celebrate.