It’s Called Christmas Biscotti. Because it’s Christmas, That’s Why

I keep telling myself that I’m not going to be one of those people (i.e., every adult with a family in America) who gets stressed out over the holidays.  Nooo, I keep thinking.  This is the most wonderful time of the year!  Carols and jingle bells and balsam-and-cedar-scented candles, dagnabit!  I WILL be happy.

But.  Too much to do.  I’m sullen, overtired, and cranky that we ran out of clean washcloths and I’ve a mountain of laundry to wash.  I dried my hair once this week.  Once.  I won’t tell you how many times I’ve washed it.

No, more than that.  Don’t be gross.

Thursday, I dropped SK off at preschool and raced home (not raced, not raced.  I mean, I drove the speed limit, Officer.  Please put that ticket book away) to throw together some biscotti for a get-together with friends later that afternoon (it’s really book club, but since I haven’t read a single selection since August because I’ve been settling for the likes of Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s book in those last quiet moments before bed at night, well…).  I also remembered I had to defrost the chicken and fold the laundry and vacuum the living room and order those gifts and exactly how long does this biscotti take to make?!  Are you JOKING ME??

But I made it, with 30 seconds to spare before we had to leave to pick up Saoirse.  And the best part, the very best part, was watching Quinn walk around the kitchen, giggling, licking the spatula from the mixer bowl.  Oh, don’t give me your lectures about salmonella and why in the world was my toddler walking around with what’s essentially a flat stick near her mouth.  I haven’t the time.

She was having a blast.  Somehow there was flour in her hair.  She kept saying “Nyum! Nyum! Nyum!” It was adorable and sweet and for a moment–just a quick second–time slowed down enough for me to get down on the floor with her, laughing, and have a toddler-sized conversation.

I think she still had the flour in her hair when we left to pick up Saoirse.  Ah, well.  You know me.  I don’t get tense about this kind of stuff.

Oh, here’s the recipe.  I got it from some Better Homes & Gardens holiday magazine I picked up at the grocery store a couple of years ago because it had cookies all over the cover and I was hungry.  If you’re a fellow coffee fanatic and want to eat something mid-morning as an excuse to have another cup of coffee, well, here you go.  And no, I didn’t include more photos.  What do you think I am, a food blogger?   I’m just trying to be nice.  Sheesh.

Christmas Biscotti                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         adapted from Better Homes & Gardens: Christmas Cookies, 2009

1/3 c. butter, softened

2/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. black rum (or rum flavoring, I suppose)

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. fine orange zest

½ c. pistachios, chopped

½ c. dried cranberries, chopped

½ c. dried apricots, chopped

(Note: I usually go a little more generously on the fruits/nuts, just because I’m crazy like that.)

for powdered sugar icing:

Stir 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 1-2 tbs. milk in a small bowl until icing is easy to drizzle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.  Beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and rum until combined. Gradually beat in the flour.  Stir in orange zest, pistachios, cranberries, and apricots.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide dough into three portions.  Using well-floured hands, shape each portion into an 8-inch-long loaf. Place loaves 3 to 4 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper; flatten loaves slightly to 2 inches wide.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and tops are cracked.  Cool on cookie sheet on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Transfer baked loaves to a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices.  Place slices, cut sides down, on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Turn slices over; bake for 8 to 10 minutes more or until dry and crisp (but not overly brown).  Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.  Drizzle with powdered sugar icing; let icing dry.  Eat mass quantities with espresso roast coffee while pretending you’ll save some for friends.

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