Almond Biscotti “Cantucci”

FullSizeRender (3)A holiday gift took us to an Italian cooking class at Gio Culinary Studio. The theme was dinner in Florence. It was a fascinating place with most of the cooking done by the chef/owner who provided instruction and commentary as he prepared our meal. We did assist with pasta making. I’ve never had better beef (Bistecca Florentine) and it was a very enjoyable night. He made this biscotti cookie “Cantucci” which we dipped in sweet wine for dessert. This recipe measures ingredients by weight. Using a scale is the best way to achieve consistent results when baking and is more common in other countries.  I have never rolled cookies in sugar before baking. It doesn’t work with all doughs but makes an excellent exterior for this twice baked cookie.

I did not have a kitchen scale until Valentine’s Day came this year. Some may not find baking tools a romantic gift but they work for me.

Cantucci

Cream together:
6 oz. butter
13 oz. granulated sugar
0.1 oz. salt
0.2 oz. vanilla
0.2 oz. almond extract

Mix in slowly:
6 oz. eggs–about 3 extra large

Sift together and add till combined:
15 oz. all purpose flour
0.2 oz. baking powder  (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

Stir in:
8 oz. almonds (chop coarsely before adding to dough)

Roll dough into logs.

Roll logs in granulated sugar before placing on parchment on cookie sheets. Almond biscottiFlatten tops of logs slightly before baking.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool a little. Slice and bake for about 5-10 more minutes or let sit in the hot oven to dry out.

 

 

 

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July 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm 3 comments

Lemon-Thyme Sable Cookies

December 29, 2016 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Chocolate Thumbprints

Chocolate cookie rolled in walnuts with a melted chocolate chip center.

Continue Reading December 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm 3 comments

Cookies on a pie crust–Light Spice Holiday Cookies

Seeking a way to dress up a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie without burning a delicate pie crust, I came across this recipe on the King Arthur flour site. It’s a light but flavorful spice cookie that I cut out in leaf shapes to border the pie crust once the pie was baked. Some were sprinkled with turbinado cane sugar in advance of baking and that is a nice touch.

 

dsc_2144These bake quickly so keep an eye on the baking time. They have a good crunch and spicy flavor.  I used ground cloves instead of allspice. I did not have shortening and substitued butter for shortening which didn’t seem to make too much of a difference. I am not paid to promote the company but do prefer the King Arthur brand, especially the cake flours.

Light Spice Holiday Cookies RecipeIngredients

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.

Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.

Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.

Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. The main recipe notes these are best 1/8″ to 1/4″inch thick. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.

Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

Transfer the cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they are set. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

If you are freezing these, wrap them well and don’t decorate until you are ready to serve them. I like to decorate cookies just out of the freezer as I find the frosting sets more quickly on a frozen cookie.

November 28, 2016 at 10:10 pm 1 comment

Election Cookies

republican-cookies-democratThe ugly antics taking place during the U.S. presidential election probably will not get any better, but maybe a sugar cookie in shapes of the two major parties will lighten up your chatter at home and in the office.

I found my Democratic donkey and Republican elephant cookie cutters in the gift shop at the Harry S. Truman “Little White House Museum” during a visit to Key West in February. The residence was initially a naval station command headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. In 1946 it first served as the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman and a site for the Cold War response by later presidents. Unfortunately, it appears a private developer garnered the rights to the shorefront property in front of the home so when you visit, you see a hotel campus and no view of the ocean that Truman once had.

These cookie cutters are from wholesale supplier Ann Clark Cookie Cutters in Rutland, Vermont. You can find them online.

The cutters came with this sugar cookie recipe which I have used a few times. It is easy and makes a good, sturdy sugar cookie. You can substitute almond flavor for the vanilla if you prefer. The elephant trunk is especially susceptible to breaking. I usually freeze them in containers once they are cooled and I frost them while they are still frozen. This sets up the frosting more quickly and makes them less likely to break.

I am not an expert decorator and had trouble getting a pure red and blue frosting that tasted decent. My photo is from divaentertains.com.

Sugar Cookies

Cream together
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar

Beat in:
1 egg

Add:
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted flour

Mix until all ingredients are well blended

Chill dough 3-4 hours before rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Roll out on a lightly floured counter to 1/4″ thick and cut into shapes

Transfer cookies onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone liners

Bake about 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with a royal icing or buttercaream icing.

Tips on icing these shapes from another blogger.

Here is a history on the party symbols.

 

 

October 9, 2016 at 6:58 pm 1 comment

The Funeral Cookie Challenge

This post is dedicated to Mary, a great cook and baker.

In my large Italian family, the death of a loved one means there will be crowds gathering at the house and these people need to be fed.  Italians are good at eating their way through mourning, although I view it as breaking bread to remember and celebrate those gone from the table.  While visiting my Aunt Theresa once, she found out a distant family member had passed. Without any hesitation she announced, “I’ll have to bake a ham.”

My siginificant other, also Italian, lost his mother Mary recently and our house swelled with more than 50 family members for dinner following calling hours. As with my own family, his relatives and friends brought in large quantities of terrific Italian food.  When it was time for dessert, things got interesting.

Three of his cousins had all made the same thing–Italian Jeanettes or Ginettes. My family calls these “oil cookies.” I have written about them previously and the recipe has proven to be one of this blog’s most visited posts.DSC_0103

A competitive spirit ensued and it was decided that I (being a cookie blogger) would taste (with my eyes closed) and select a “best of Ginette” from the cousin confections. Our departed Mary and many in her family are enthusiastic horse handicappers so the odds were announced on cookie trays made by Gina, “Big Ang” and “Little Ang.” Each baker introduced their cookie, explaining why their method or ingredients should move them to the top spot. Braiding the dough vs. no braid and lemon juice vs. lemon extract were just a few topics debated. Each cookie tasted terrific and, in the end, I selected the one made by “Little Ang” which resulted in boisterous cheers and jeers.  We asked one of Mary’s sisters what Mary would have thought about our antics and she replied, “Mary hated these cookies.” Lots more laughter as we reminisced and celebrated the remarkable Mary.

After Mary’s funeral the following day, as we gathered to eat again, a cousin informed us that a horse had just won race 4 at Belmont Park by four and a half lengths. The horse’s name?  Mary Pray For Us!

 

 

 

 

July 10, 2016 at 10:37 pm 3 comments

Cookie Bake 2015

My family launched the holiday season last week with its annual cookie bake, a manic day of baking fun. I probably should have tracked how many pounds of butter were used. We were productive and had fun.

 

December 1, 2015 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

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