Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bake 52: Almond Biscotti

It's hard to believe that this year is almost over. It has flown by. This is my last week to host in Bake 52, and I chose Almond Biscotti. I have never tasted biscotti. I'm glad I decided to try it, because I thought it tasted great. I can see now why they often accompany a warm drink, though, because they are crisp, crisp, crisp! They won't be an all-the-time cookie for me, but I think I'll make them now and then in the winter to have with my hot chocolate. I made the almond flavor, but there are several variations at the end of the recipe, and I'm sure countless more varieties.

Almond Biscotti 
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Biscotti are Italian cookies that are baked twice--the first baking actually cooks the dough, while the second baking makes the cookies crisp and dry. 

2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
2 tablespoons grated fresh orange zest (optional)

Toasting the almonds.
Nice golden, toasted almonds.

Beautiful orange zest & chopped almonds.
I used the orange for an air freshener. I sliced it up, added water, and simmered it. You could also add a cinnamon stick or vanilla for a different scent.
 1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extract until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the almonds and zest (if using) until just incorporated.
4. Press the dough into two 13 by 2-inch loaves on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 3 inches apart. Bake the loaves until golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes (mine was done in 30), rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.


5. Let the loaves cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

6. Transfer the loaves to a cutting board and slice each on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through baking. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving, about 1 hour.

I planned on dipping the tops in chocolate, but I overheated it and didn't have any more to melt :(
PISTACHIO BISCOTTI - Omit the almond extract and substitute shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted and shopped course, for the almonds.
CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCOTTI - Omit the almond extract and substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for almonds.
 LEMON-ANISE BISCOTTI - Omit the almond extract and almonds. Add 1 tablespoon anise seed with the vanilla extract and substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest for the orange zest. 

These made great neighbor gifts with a cute packet of hot cocoa.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bake 52: Glazed Chocolate Cream Roll

So, I made the cake and took pictures, then forgot to blog last night. Sorry to be a day late on this one. You can get the recipe for this cake on Michelle's blog. After trying my cake, I never wanted to make it again. Not because it was hard to do or took too long (it was actually pretty fast and easy), but because I didn't think it tasted great. Now, after reading through the other bakers' blogs, maybe I do need to try it again because they seemed to like theirs.

I'm not sure if I over-baked the cake or what, but it was dry and had kind of a rough texture. I like my cakes dense, soft and fluffy. The marshmallow filling was good, but I might decrease the amount of butter next time. Or better yet, use ice cream like Amanda did.

My favorite part of this recipe was the chocolate glaze. In fact, when Nick brought slices out for dessert last night, I ate all the glaze off the top, then handed the rest off to him. It wasn't his favorite cake, either, but it's a dessert, so he'll eat it anyway :)

It did look very pretty sitting on the platter covered in shiny glaze. The side-view picture doesn't look great - I need to perfect my tight-rolling technique - but it looked much better on the slices toward the middle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bake 52: Large Danish Braid

Jennifer chose this week's recipe, and it wasn't one I should have procrastinated making until today. Not because it took a long time (which it did), but because it was so super yummy!  I have never been fond of danishes. I think it's because most of them have cream cheese, and I don't like cream cheese. Now that I can make them myself and leave out the cheese, I could eat them all day. I want to try this in every flavor, shape and size.

The book suggested 4 different fillings: apricot, prune, cream cheese, and cheese & cherry. You know cream cheese was out for me, but cross out the cheese before cherry, and we're talking! But I didn't have cherries in my pantry, and I didn't want to go to the store. So I improvised with frozen fruit I had in the freezer. Here is my blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry danish:
I was grateful to have seen Jennifer's post before assembling it. Thanks to her, I mostly avoided an over-juiced danish, but not completely. I strained my fruit, then put a few spoonfuls of juice on top. I should have gone without the spoonfuls.

I was running out of time, so I skipped the 30-minute rising step. It's a little on the flat side. But other than a few glops of frosting, the presentation's not bad.

When you've got a day to hang out at home and roll out the dough several times throughout the day, I suggest you try making this. You can get the recipe on Jennifer's blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bake 52: Buttermilk Biscuits

This week we made buttermilk biscuits. I love buttermilk biscuits, and this is the best recipe I've made. They had a great flavor, even though I used regular buttermilk rather than powdered. The only problem I had with them was that they went into the oven perfectly formed, and came out all crooked and misshapen. I'll have to work on figuring that out. 

I thought they were light, fluffy and had great flavor. I didn't think they would be as good the next day, but they were still as yummy even 2 days later. I will certainly hold on to this recipe. You can find it on Betsy's blog.

As an added bonus, we ate kiwis with our dinner and mine was full of love!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bake 52: Sweet Potato Pie

This week Talesha chose Sweet Potato Pie for her recipe. A great pick for Thanksgiving.

I never knew that sweet potatoes and yams are the same thing. I've never bought or eaten them before. Wait, I'm having a flashback of a college roommate making me try a sweet potato once . . . but it wasn't a pie, so it's bound to taste better this time, right?

Mine looks pretty, but we haven't tasted it yet since we thought we'd take it up to Philly with us for the big day. I'll let you know what it tasted like tomorrow.

Update: We tried the pie. We thought it was okay. A little bland. Couldn't compare with pumpkin. The crust was a little tough, which may be from overworking it, or it might just be a tougher dough. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
Find the recipe HERE.