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    Saturday
    Jul192014

    Chocolate Biscotti

    I don’t usually like really crunchy cookies. Why did I make biscotti then?

    Well, I’ve also been looking for cookie recipes that start with something other than “cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs and vanilla”.

    Plus, apparently the rock hard biscotti that we typically find at coffee shops (that I find too hard to bother with) are a lot harder than they should be. One of the managers at work is an old world Italian dude and he said that these cookies, which are crunchy but still bite-able, are what biscotti are supposed to be. When you dip them in coffee they don’t fall apart, but you can also bite them without first having to soften them in espresso, or amaretto. Or espresso with amaretto in it.

     

    What you need

    **I made a double batch and used twice the amount of everything so the pics look a little different**

    • ½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds or hazlenuts or maybe pistachios?
    • 1 ½  cups flour  (you can substitute up to 1 cup of flour with almond flour)
    • ¾ cups sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ¼  teaspoon salt
    • ¼  cup cocoa
    • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into little pieces (don’t bother with butter if you use almond flour)
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • ¾ cups chocolate chips

    What you gotta do

    I like toasty nuts. So, first thing I’m going to do is put the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium low.

    While those get toasty, start measuring the dry stuff into a big bowl. Don’t forget to shake the pan from time to time so that the nuts get toasty on all sides.

    Flour. Shake the pan. Sugar. Shake the pan. Baking powder and salt. Shake the pan.

    Sift the cocoa into the bowl to make sure all the little cocoa lumps get busted up.

    Shake the pan. Once the pine nuts are nice and golden toasty, set them aside to cool.

    Mix all the dry stuff together and then cut in the butter. Biscotti are traditionally made with ground almonds in there along with the flour, and no fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter), but since I’m not using the almonds, I need fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter).

    Cutting in the butter can be done with a pastry cutter, or forks, or knives. It’s the same thing you do when you’re making biscuits.

    In another bowl crack the eggs and add the Amaretto and the vanilla. And the Amaretto.

    Beat the eggs and Amaretto and vanilla and Amaretto together.

    Okay, so you know how when you make muffins, you toss the blueberries in a bit of flour to make sure they stick to the muffin batter? Along those lines… dump the chocolate chips and the cooled pine nuts into the egg mixture, and then pour it into the dry stuff.

    Wait. Preheat the oven now to 350.

    Since what we’re doing here is making a pastry type dough, we don’t want to mix it too much, since that makes gluten form and toughens the cookies. No one likes tough cookies. Mix just until things are starting to hold together and then dump it onto the counter in a big mess that’s half wet and sticky and half dry and crumbly. This is the same thing we did with the Welsh Cakes and you trusted me then, right? Right? Amaretto.

    Gently press the dry stuff into the sticky parts, and fold them over. Keep folding and pressing (while avoiding the urge to “knead” the dough) until it all comes together.

    Sorry about the perspective on those pics, but my hands were kinda messy.

    **I made a double recipe and cut my dough into 6. If you're just making a single, cut into 3.**

    Once the dough has come together, cut it into 6 wedges.

    Roll each wedge into a log about 8 or 9 inches long and press it into an oval that’s about 2 inches wide.

    If your dough is still really sticky (Amaretto), use cocoa, not flour on the counter.

    My dough was really sticky and I ended up with a lot of cocoa on the logs, so I brushed them with a bit of Amaretto. You could also brush them with beaten egg if you want a glossy look on the top.

    Bake the logs for 25 minutes, then set them on a rack to cool. My tiny one-room-sized air conditioner is in the bedroom. So I had the fan help them along with the whole cooling thing.

    Slice the logs into ½ to 1 inch thick slices on the diagonal. You should get a dozen or so from each log. And yes, you could stop here and just call these things cookies, but you couldn't call them "biscotti". Biscotti get their name from being twice baked (bi = two, cotte = cooked, that is your Latin lesson for the day).

    Now, you could evenly spread them out nicely so that air circulates around them, but fuck air space. I just got 6 dozen cookies on one baking sheet.

    I saw one site that suggested standing the slices up on edge but whoever wrote that obviously did not use Amaretto. Or bake them that way because seriously, wtf? Stand ½ inch thick slices of cookie on edge? Try it. Tell me if it works. Pics or it didn’t happen.

    Amaretto.

    Oh, and you know all of those little crumbly bits left on the cutting board?

    Whatever you do, don’t put them in a bowl, pour Amaretto over top and eat them like cereal. No pics. Didn’t happen.

    Sunday
    Jul062014

    Magic Cookie Bars

    I grew up calling these Magic Cookie Bars.  But I’ve also seen them called 7 Layer Bars, as well as a few other things, which aren’t coming to mind just now.  Personally, I think the name Magic Cookie Bars is what best describes them, because they are just that.  Basically, you spread a few basic ingredients in a pan, drizzle on some sweetened condensed milk, pop the whole thing into the oven for a bit, and you end up with this amazing, chocolately, chewy, cookie bar goodness. 

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 Pkg graham crackers
    • 4 Tablespoons butter
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • ½ cup each of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, chopped pecans, broken pretzels
    • ¾ cup shredded, sweetened coconut
    • ½ can sweetened condensed milk (about ⅔ cup) 

    First, melt your butter and set it aside.  Then, for the crust, the graham crackers need to be crushed.  I have decided the easiest way to do this is to slide them into a ziplock bag.

    Then just seal it up and go over them with a rolling pin.  See?  Perfect crumbs.   

    The advantage to doing it this way is that you have no dishes to clean.  Just pour the melted butter right into the bag. 

    Shake the crumbs until you have something that looks like wet sand. 

    Dump that into a parchment lined 8x8 pan.

    Spread it to the edges and press it with something flat, or even just your hand.  Place that into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Longer is fine.  During that time, preheat your oven to 350°

    When you’re ready, pull out the crust and sprinkle on both chocolate chips, pecans, and pretzels.  Just a quick tip.  To get small pieces of pretzels, you’ll want to use the bag and rolling pin trick again.  I tried just chopping mine and ended up with some of them flying across the kitchen.  Not my most brilliant moment. 

    On top, goes the coconut.

    Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. 

    I only put pecans in half of mine because Hubby is allergic to them, so I marked that half with a pecan on top.  As you can see, they don’t look like anything special.  In fact, not really even that appetizing, but just you wait. 

    Here comes the magic part.  Pop them into the oven for 35 minutes and you have gone from “Meh” to “Holy crap those look good!”

    Allow them to cool completely before cutting them if you can.  It won’t be easy, because they smell every bit as delicious as they look.