Cranberry Rosemary Biscotti

rosemary cranberry biscotti
As I type, I’m eating one of these merry little cookies.  The tart bite of the cranberry and the floral spring of the rosemary, combined with the sugary sweetness of white chocolate just tastes and looks like Christmas to me. More than the joy of eating these cookies is the tradition of making them.  I think holiday traditions are as comforting as coming in to a warm house from the cold.  Traditions are the glue that holds the holiday season together, no matter how hectic and scared we may get that Amazon Prime really won’t come in two days…

I’ve been doing too much, lately.  I got in over my head with a few embroidery projects because 1. I’m still new to the craft, but 2. I enjoy it so much that, 3. I think I am better than I really am, so 4. It takes me much longer to complete a project in real life than it does in my head.  I also feel that with a baby in the mix and a couple precious hours in the day to get things done, that I should have scaled back.  Baked less, bought fewer presents, gotten take-out a little more often.  But I felt compelled to keep the ship afloat and do everything I wanted to do, even if there was no time.

Amidst this feeling of being on a slowly sinking ship, I still hauled my tail into the kitchen yesterday morning and got the dough for this biscotti mixed up.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the same version of this recipe twice, but that stops this year.  I’ve finally found a combination of recipes that works and that tastes good.  I’ve tried everything you can imagine from a no-butter, all egg white recipe (sad) to a recipe that called for oil (weird) and switching between fresh cranberries or dried.  I don’t know why I tried so many variants when I knew in my heart that cookies need and deserve to be made with butter.  And after using dried cranberries every year, I tried fresh this year and I really love it.  It distinguishes the cranberry from what could have been any ol’ dried fruit.  Fresh cranberries tint the dough slightly swirly pink and with the flecks of green rosemary, these cookies just make me feel the season that much more.  Baking brings me closer to peace.  Being in the kitchen is a calm that I don’t feel anywhere else.  And so, even though Christmas seemed to come exactly 5.5 seconds after Thanksgiving this year, I found a pocket of time to keep the tradition going and bake my holiday anchor, also known as: Cranberry Rosemary Bisotti.

cranberry rosemary

Cranberry Rosemary Biscotti
makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup  unsalted butter, room temp
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, cut in half
6 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or use a silpat.  Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl till fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the rosemary and cranberries with a rubber spatula gently, until well incorporated.

Form the dough into two logs, side by side on a baking sheet.  Shape into long, flat strips, about 10″x 3″ by about 1/2″ high.  Bake for 30 minutes until firm and then let cool about 20 minutes before cutting.

Cut the logs into 1/2″ strips and arrange the slices on the baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, flipping over once during baking.  Let the cookies cool completely on a rack before drizzling with white chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments, stirring after each time, until just melted.  With a spatula, dunk into the chocolate and fling it around the kitchen with wild abandon.  Or, just drizzle it over the biscotti until completely used up and everything is a huge mess.  Let it dry before storing in an air tight container for about 2 weeks.  These cookies keep a while, so they’re great for gifts!

Ollie and her biscotti

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Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

I was paid $25 to make this recipe.  Well, technically,  I was paid about $12.50, because Matt was paid the other half to make a loaf of his awesome bread.  Why?  Because an old co worker from his previous job had a Christmas party to go to and a twenty-five dollar limit to spend on a gift.  So he contacted us and said, “Make a couple things.”  The fun thing about these office party gift-exchanges is that the person whose gift got the most steals, or trades in the game, wins $100.

Gary won.  🙂 So I guess you could say these are $75 brownies.  Or $37.50.   Or probably less, because as I well know, it was most certainly Matt’s bread that won the contest.  Hey, Matt – guess what?  You won 1st place for your bread.  Only this time, instead of a $6 check like at the fair, some other guy got $100.  That’s better, right? 😉

The brownies were indeed, great.  I followed a recipe from Fat Witch Brownies (a most awesome brownie book) for an espresso brownie, and then I thought, “What could make this more show-worthy for a gift exchange?”  Covering it in a rich chocolate ganache!  Then, with some sprinkles of cocoa nibs, these brownies become a huge version of a chocolate-covered espresso bean, which in my opinion, is the ultimate adult candy.  They’re like one big “congratulations” for getting older.

And so are these brownies!  Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies*
worth $37.50

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 recipe dark chocolate ganache (see below)
cocoa nibs or crushed up coffee beans for sprinkling

Grease a 9×9″ baking dish with butter.  Dust with flour.  Or use that awesome flour spray.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments, stirring with a rubber spatula after each time, until smooth and melted.

Cream the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, then add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beating until incorporated.

In a small dish, mix the espresso powder with the hot water until dissolved.  Add it to the chocolate mixture and continue to beat until well combined.

Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the batter.  Mix the batter gently until well combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour.  Make your ganache while the brownies cool.  After they cool, cut them into 16 squares and gently remove and place on a drying rack, or on sheets of waxed or parchment paper.

Dark Chocolate Ganache*
makes 1 cup of goodness from the heavens

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Over medium heat, place the heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately after it has just started to boil.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let them sit for a minute.  Then, with a rubber spatula, gently begin mixing the chocolate in tiny circles in the center of the bowl.  You will think it will never incorporate.  Keep mixing.  You will think your cream wasn’t hot enough.  Keep mixing.  Chocolate demands patience.  Then, just like magic, the chocolate will deepen its color instantly and you will only have a few more stirs, incorporating the sides and scooping down to the bottom of the bowl, to end up with one, big, glossy, gorgeous bowl of thick, dark chocolate ganache.  Take this and spread over the tops and sides of your cut brownies and sprinkle the tops of your brownies with the nibs or crushed beans and let it cool till the ganache firms up.

*both recipes adapted only very slightly from Fat Witch Brownies.  Go buy this book for someone for Christmas.

EAT! ENJOY!