With Thanksgiving over, the shift to Christmas happens immediately! We all know that it also mean’s that Santa Claus is coming to town! Santa loves himself some cookies and this one is a perfect match – big on taste and flavor. These chocolate biscotti cookies are made with almonds and dried cherries and then dipped in dark chocolate to make a delicious cookie perfect for dipping into your coffee or hot chocolate. So get your cookie trays ready because remember the the big fat man is coming……….real soon !
From by the bay, waiting to make food memories for the big fat man!
Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Biscotti
1 cup dried cherries
½ cup almond slivers
½ cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon shortening (Crisco)
1 cup fine sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 oz good quality bittersweet dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl add dry ingredients, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix and keep to the side. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and shortening until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Add vanilla until blended. Add dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well until the dough is smooth. Using a spoon and mix in the dried cherries and almonds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Shape each half of the dough into a log approximately 2 inch high x 12 inches long. Place the logs on to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on a baking rack. Place on a cutting board and using a serrated knife slice each log on the diagonal into 12 pieces approximately 1 inch thick. Place the pieces back on to the baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, turn the slices to the other side and bake another 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Fill medium pot 1/3 with water and simmer. Add to the top of the pot a glass bowl that sits on the top of the pot to create a bain du marie. Add the chocolate and melt over the simmering water. Don’t let the water touch the glass bowl. Once the chocolate is melted use an offset spatula to cover the end of each cookie. Place chocolate on approximately 1/3 of the cookie on all sides. Allow to set at room temperature on a wire rack . You may also set in the refrigerator for a ½ hour to hasten the process. Store cookies in an air tight container.
I love to walk into my pantry and come out with an idea for cooking based on the ingredients sitting on my shelves. Some of my favorite ingredients are never out of stock – along with my staples, so it wasn’t too hard to walk into that pantry one afternoon and come out with the ingredients to make this twist on the chocolate chip cookie. I love dark chocolate so grabbed a bar off the shelf to cut up into small shards of richness. The dried cranberries will add a little sweet with a slightly tart flavor. I still have a few oranges left from the holidays and love mixing chocolate with orange rind. These were a big hit – you’ll love them! Try them this weekend.
Definition: Spritz Cookies are make with a cookie press. A cookie press allows the baker to shape dough into uniform shapes quickly. Cookie presses come in a variety of shapes but this is especially wonderful for Christmas entertaining. Cookies can be made into wreaths, trees, stars etc. These butter cookies are really a holiday staple.
My fondest Christmas cooking memory is making cookies with my mother. When I was a little girl, our Christmas tradition was making these wonderful little spritz butter cookies and decorating them. We made them only at Christmas and we would enjoy them through out the holidays. An equally wonderful memory was when my mother handed over to me the official role of baking these cookies for the holidays along with her cookie press. She came over to my house and taught me exactly what to do. I was not so great at making the shapes when we first started so don’t get discouraged when you first attempt these little cookies. If you don’t like how they look just grab up that dough and throw it back into the cookie press and try again. I had to do that a few times before I finally got the hang of it. I was under close supervision by my mother when she taught me how to make these cookies. The way I knew that I had succeeded in my baking was at the end of the afternoon, mom said to me, why don’t I leave the cookie press here with you now. You’ll love these cookies and will want to make it part of your Christmas traditions!
Come back for more Christmas food ideas!
Spritz Sugar Cookies
5 dozen cookies
1 lb unsalted butter
1 ½ cup fine sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Optional: sprinkles, colored sugar, candied cherries, chocolate to decorate
Requires : cookie press or spritz
Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl add dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix and keep to the side. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter until fluffy. Add sugar gradually and beat well. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Add vanilla until blended. Add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well until the dough is smooth. Using a spoon put dough into cookie press. Press shaped cookies onto an non stick baking sheet. You can decorate the cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles or candied cherries depending on the shape. Bake in oven for 7 minutes. If using two trays, after 3 minutes rotate baking sheets on oven rack and then bake another 4 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown. Store cookies in an air tight container.
Wreaths: decorate before baking with candied cherry pieces and green sugar.
Trees : with multicolor chocolate sprinkles.
Stars: pressed into a long log and cut into 2 inch pieces. Dip the ends in melted chocolate and then dip into sprinkles