Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Biscotti With Cranberries And Pistachios" Plus "Italian Sesame Cookies"

Tis’ the season to be jolly and fill your tummy with some Biscotti! Christmas is less than one week away and it’s time to finish your baking. I have a few more desserts and cookies to bake before Santa comes tumbling down that chimney.

As I go through my recipe file, I am reminded of my favorite Christmas story, “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. (December 19, 1843) Dickens resurrected the celebration of Christmas. He gave a rebirth to religious beliefs, jubilation, joyous feasts, family, generosity, and good will towards men by writing this beloved tale. Dickens illustrates how self-serving, insensitive people can be. Then transformed them into charitable, caring, and mindful members of society.

The practice of wishing others “Merry Christmas” can be traced back to “A Christmas Carol”. Christmas dinner became a respected tradition with the richness of family and friends. We need to cherish our loved ones every moment of the day and show them how important they are in our lives. This Yuletide season gives us an abundant amount of Christmas joy with friends, family, and the Ghost of Christmas Present! “God Bless Us Everyone!” (Quote by Tiny Tim, from a Christmas Carol)

I have two recipes of cookies to share with you this week. One is an “Italian Biscotti” and the other is an “Italian Sesame Cookie“. The Biscotti is a dry cookie that is twice-baked and traditionally served with a glass of Vin Santo wine after dinner. These crunchy cookies that taste sweet and savory are complemented by coffee, tea, or cappuccino. The Italian Sesame Cookie is also a cookie that reminds me of little Italian bread rolls. The sesame seeds add to the hint of anise flavor in this delightful small cookie. What a way to celebrate the Christmas season!
Buon Natale everyone!

Italian Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachios

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried sweet cranberries chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture with cinnamon and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and dried cranberries. Form the dough into a 13-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on the baking sheet.
Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely. You can also dip one end in melted chocolate and then dip in chopped pistachios. The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in re-sealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

Italian Sesame Cookies

4 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of Crisco Solid
2 eggs
1 /2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of anise extract
Sesame seeds

Cut in 1 cup of shortening (Crisco Solid). Beat slightly 2 eggs. Add to eggs: 1/2 cup of milk. Combine dry and liquid ingredients. Pinch off a small amount of dough and roll in your hands. Shape into a size of a finger and taper at each end. (You can also create any shape to make these cookies in example: crescent, star, round etc) Now roll in the sesame seeds. Bake at 375° for about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven and the type of pans you use.
Till Next Time………………………..

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