November 28, 2012

Homemade Gifts: An Assortment of Homemade Biscotti {Naptime Everyday}

Homemade Lemon Ginger Biscotti via The Naptime Chef

It is finally the time of year when we start thinking about homemade holiday gifts. Yes, I did make my big batch gifts like Homemade Vanilla Extract and Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce earlier this year, but my smaller batch gifts are just getting started. This is the food that is easy and fun to make in small batches as needed throughout the season. One of my favorite things to make in this category are fresh, crunchy biscotti in an assortment of flavors. Not only are these sophisticated coffee-dipping cookies a welcome departure from the onslaught of super-sweet Christmas cookies this time of year, they are also perfect for a wide variety of gift-giving situations. For example, when I hear the moms in my daughter’s class are assembling the teacher gift bags I always whip up a quick batch of Lemon Ginger Biscotti to add as my contribution. Or, when I know I have a meeting with a client or editor coming up I bag a fresh batch of Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti to bring along. Sometimes I even make two or three batches at once and ship an assortment to friends around the country to spread a little holiday cheer.

An Assortment of Homemade Biscotti via The Naptime Chef

Yes, there are other foods I make at a moment’s notice as well, like Herb-Infused Dipping Oils and Espresso Shortbread, but biscotti is one of my absolute favorites. The short preparation time makes them ideal for baking up the day before you need it and they freeze well if you need to make them more than four days in advance of giving them out. Also, the batter comes together in less than ten minutes and then it is simply a matter of minding the oven while it bakes. The same can not be said for elaborate Christmas cookies or delicate sauces!

Over the years I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with spices, zests, and add-ins and have come up with an assortment of biscotti flavors we all love. The three below: Lemon Ginger, Chocolate Pistachio, and Hazelnut, are our current favorite, all of which have received rave reviews from friends and family alike. To package them I simply stack them in small food-safe plastic or paper bags and tie them with a decorative ribbon. For shipping I place them in a well padded box separated by small sheets of parchment paper so they don’t grate against each other and crumble.

As you get into holiday gift-giving mode give a batch of biscotti a try. If you come up with any new flavors that are particularly awesome please share, we’d love to hear!

Recipe

Homemade Biscotti: Lemon Ginger, Chocolate Pistachio, Hazelnut

Ingredients

Lemon Ginger:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup finely chopped candied ginger
2 lemons, zested and juiced
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon sanding sugar

 Pistachio Chocolate:

¾ cup shelled pistachios (not roasted salted, just plain pistachios), finely ground
4 ounces dark chocolate, finely ground
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Amaretto
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Hazelnut:

Same is the Pistachio Chocolate recipe: substitute hazelnuts for pistachios, omit the chocolate. Proceed with recipes as written.

Instructions

1. Lemon-Ginger: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, sugar, soda, ginger, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss in the candied ginger. In a small measuring cup whisk the lemon zest and juice, and the eggs and fold them into the dry ingredients. The dough will be a little crumbly. Use your clean hands to bring the dough together, kneading lightly until it is smooth. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 9-inch long roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, placing the rolls about 5-inches apart. At this point the dough will be quite sticky so keep your hands lightly floured and do your best to keep the dough smooth. Brush the top of each roll with a little bit of milk and sprinkle evenly with sanding sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the biscotti are a light golden brown. Allow the logs to cool for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Cut each roll into about 18 strips that are about ½-¾-inch thick. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place the strips back on the cookie sheet in the upright position with at least 1/8-inch of space between each. Bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. They will harden as they cool.

2. Pistachio Chocolate: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar completely. Beat in the eggs and Amaretto. With the mixer on low slowly add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the ground nuts and chocolate. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 12-inch long roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, placing the rolls about 5-inches apart. The dough will be sticky so it is best to lightly flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Brush the top of each roll with a little bit of milk. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the biscotti are a light golden brown. Allow the logs to cool for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Cut each roll into about 18 strips that are about ½-¾-inch thick. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place the strips back on the cookie sheet in the upright position with at least 1/8-inch of space between each. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. They will harden as they cool.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

I like laying biscotti flat in a shallow box or standing them up in a take-out box lined with tissue paper to give as a gift. They also are pretty in small food-safe bags sealed with stickers.

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes prep time, 50 minutes cook time (including both baking times)

Naptime Reviews

These are always a sweet sophisticated treat for the holiday season!