Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti plus Other Adventures

I’ve wanted to share this recipe for a while, it’s very dear to me because it was one of my first loves when I was in Montreal. I had browsed through recipes on Epicurious and baked my first of many batches at my cousin’s apartment, wrapped in layers of cotton and wool since the kitchen lacked heat and the best way to stay warm was bake with the oven on at full force. 


But lately, there hasn’t been much need for that. If you’re like me, live in Toronto, you will know that the winter has been unusually warm. We got a day of furious snowfall right after Christmas, but it’s already starting to melt into little rivers on the streets and given the remarkably good weather, I’ve been doing some exploring.

I couldn’t stop staring at the ROM. It’s a beautiful building that sits on Bloor and Queen's Park, with crystal like structures spilling on the street, its design inspired by the museum's collection of gemstones. I’ve passed by many times but never really took it in till this last week. 


On the same day, exhausted from hours of walking up and down Bloor street, my friend and I stumbled into Carole’s Cheesecake Café tucked in a little nook on Cumberland street. Their cheesecake has been named the best cheesecake in the city and boy, does it live up to that title. 

I ordered a Taffy Apple cheesecake and oh lordy lord, the filling was fluffier than clouds and as light as whipped cream, but the best part was the topping. There was crunchy toffee and crystallized apples to contrast against the soft filling and then just when your tongue can’t handle the sensory overload, there are slivers of soft cooked apples with a hint of cinnamon. I polished it off my slice in record time. This is serious cheesecake people. 

Later in the week, I discovered a shop that sells imported Dutch products including Speculoos (!!!!). If you remember my love letter, you would know about my mad love for all things Speculoos.  A very kind blogger from across the border also sent me Trader Joe’s version of Speculoos aka Cookie Butter (I love that name) for Christmas. I’ve been scooping it out of the jar with my finger spoon everyday...whoops! So much for making ice cream out of it. 

There’s also been a lot of lobster. Lobster bisque, lobster soup, lobster hot pot, and lobster cooked in soy sauce. You should see my parents attack lobster, it's as if it was the end of the world, in other words, hilarious. My mom has the biggest grin and my dad turns into a kid in a toy store.


In between meals and finding little gems in what is now my hometown, I’ve been nibbling on these dynamite biscotti. They are insanely addictive, crunchy, crumbly in all the right places, and intoxicate your mouth with the sweet smell of baked eggs and butter. They are undoubtedly festive cookies and would make wonderful treats to ring in the new years say at a potluck. I bet you will have people fighting to get the recipe from you. I certainly would. 

Happy new year and thanks for reading, drooling, commenting and stopping by. May 2012 bring us more luscious and saliva-inducing sweets!

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from Epicurious

Makes about 3 dozen

2¼ cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl.

2. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and aniseed. Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky).

3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.

4. Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

5. Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Using sharp knife, in one motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Recipe here!

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