Virtual Cookie Exchange — Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti & Gingerbread Biscotti {Recipe}

 

OK, I have a confession to make. I have been slow, make that very slow, to get into the holiday spirit this year. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been sick around here. Maybe it’s the thought of gearing up for another tax season. Maybe it’s the weather. But whatever the reason (his heart, or his shoes), I’ve been a bit of a Grinch so far this Christmas. In fact, if it weren’t for the kids, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have bothered putting up the tree.

But put up the tree we did. And about the time I was starting to get into the spirit — adorning the house with all of the Christmas decorations, old and new, and listening to Christmas music on the radio — I got an e-mail from Di over at Di’s Kitchen Notebook inviting me to participate in a Virtual Cookie Exchange. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cooking and baking bloggers, it’s that they’re a sociable and creative lot. So even though I had no idea what a “virtual” cookie exchange was, I knew it would be fun.

The set up was simple: we would all pick a cookie recipe — a family favorite, something we’ve been wanting to try, or even a new recipe we’re working on — bake it, snap some pictures, and post the recipe on our blogs on the same date (December 13). I signed up right away, even though I had no idea what I would bake.

As it turns out, I decided to make two recipes, one that I had made before and another one that I have had in mind for a while but haven’t tried to make yet. And to make it even more fun,  a bunch of the people in the cookie exchange decided to Twitterbake our cookies together the other day. So, with one recipe in hand and the other in mind, I hit the kitchen at the designated time and started baking.

The first recipe I made was the one I was inventing — Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti. I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to make them, so I started with a rough outline of a recipe and took notes as I put it together. They came out really well. This is a recipe I’m happy to share, and one I will be making for years to come.

Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup whole fresh cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spice in a large bowl and set aside.

3.  Put eggs in bowl of electric mixer.  Beat at medium speed until lemony in color, about one minute.  Add pumpkin, butter, and vanilla and mix on low speed to combine.

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in three additions, mixing well on low speed after each addition.  Add cranberries and pecans.  Stir into dough with mixer or by hand.

5.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour your hands.  Shape the dough into a log.  Divide log into two pieces with a bench scraper and roll each piece into a log about 15 x 2 inches.   Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart.  Flatten the logs so the tops are even.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown and firm to the touch.  (It’s OK if they seem a little underbaked at this point.  In fact, it’s better to underbake them then overbake or they will crumble when you cut them.)  Remove from oven and place logs on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

8.  After the logs have cooled, transfer each to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Don’t push down as you cut; let the knife do the work.  Place the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

9.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until biscotti are dry.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

Shaped and flattened logs

 

After first bake

Sliced and ready for second bake

Et voila!

The second recipe I made was one I have made before. I don’t remember where I got the original recipe (online somewhere), but I’ve tinkered with it enough to call it my own.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole raw almonds

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Measure the butter and molasses into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until light, about one minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The batter may appear separated at this point. That’s fine. It will come together as soon as the flour is added. 

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture on low speed in three additions, mixing well after each addition.  Gently stir in the almonds with mixer or spoon.

5.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour your hands.  Shape the dough into a log.  Divide log into two pieces and roll each piece into a log about 15 x 2 inches.   Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart.  Flatten the logs so the tops are even.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and place logs on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

8.  After the logs have cooled, transfer each to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Place the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

9.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until biscotti are dry.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

Tip:  After adding butter to mixer bowl, use butter wrapper to grease measuring cup so molasses will release from cup without sticking.

Check out the roundup over at Di’s site to see what everyone else is baking. And if you try the biscotti, let me know what you think.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

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9 Comments

  1. July 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

    […] discovered how simple they are to make, I’ve made many different biscotti, including several original biscotti recipes. So, I was really happy about this month’s first recipe — Hazelnut […]

  2. Julia said,

    December 16, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    A virtual Cookie Exchange is a brilliant idea! I wish I’d known earlier, maybe next year! With so many wonderful elements (cranberries, pumpkin, gingerbread and biscotti!), these two recipes sound and look delicious and will be in my recipe box for sure. I enjoy reading about your experiences! Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    • gaaarp said,

      December 16, 2010 at 6:43 pm

      Julia, thanks for stopping by for a visit! And for you comments. I’d love to hear how you like the recipes if you try them.

  3. Di said,

    December 13, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Ooh, add two more to my list to make! I have tons of cranberries waiting to be used in something, and I love the flavors of gingerbread. I may be adding biscotti to the treat bags I make for B’s & G’s teachers this year. Thanks so much for joining in the Cookie Exchange!

    • gaaarp said,

      December 13, 2010 at 10:51 am

      Thank you for hosting! It was so much fun, especially when a bunch of us did them as a Twitterbake. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts so far. Can’t wait to see the rest!

  4. teaandscones said,

    December 13, 2010 at 8:45 am

    So clever to develop your own recipe. And so delicious. Pumpkin cranberry. YUM!!! And Gingerbread biscotti. Delish.

    IT is fun baking with everyone ‘together’ isn’t it. Love Twitterbakes.

    And I hear you on the Spirit. We HAVE to go get the tree today!!!

    • gaaarp said,

      December 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

      Twitterbakes are great. It’s fun to read about what everyone else is doing while I’m in the kitchen.

  5. Kayte said,

    December 13, 2010 at 7:27 am

    These look great! Fun baking with you…yours turned out, mine didn’t, but I am still working on those springerli cookies, peppermint ones going to be posted later when I work up enough steam after the weekend. Happy to hear you are getting into the Christmas spirit…no more Grinches needed. Great cookies…this was fun.

    • gaaarp said,

      December 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

      Thanks. Yeah, I’m finally getting into the spirit. We even got a good start on our shopping for the girls this weekend. Hoping to finish up with online orders today.

      I can’t wait to see your cookies. I’m sure you’ll get the springerli cookies down pat soon enough.


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