Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cranberry Spice Biscotti - Crazy Ingredients Challenge

I am the worst cookie baker in the world. Yet knowing this, I forwent my initial plan to make biscotti for this month's Crazy Ingredients Challenge and tried my hand at shortbread. Big mistake. I know what you're thinking. Biscottis are cookies and shortbreads are the easiest cookies to make. Right on both counts. But you see, biscotti, doesn't mind being in the oven a little long. It doesn't need to come out before it's done. It's OK for biscotti to be hard. This is my kinda cookie. As for the shortbread being easy? I don't want to talk about that. There was a cupcake plan too but to be honest, after eating half a cake in fewer days than anyone should eat half of an 18000 calorie cake, making cupcakes just seemed like a bad (but oh so delicious) idea.

But let's rewind a bit. I have not actually introduced you to the ingredients for this month. This month cranberries and gingerbread spice won the poll. Festive! And so much easier than last year's gingerbread spice and onions. That one had me scratching my head and ready to quit. I didn't even know what gingerbread spice was. But thanks to our then host - Jutta - and Google, I learned. The mix really varies a lot but I decided to keep it simple. I went with 2 parts cinnamon, 2 parts ginger, 1 part nutmeg, 1 part allspice, 1 part cloves. Other mixes include other spices such as anise, cardamom and even black pepper.

I really enjoyed this biscotti and hope you do too. Within hours of baking and cooling, I had already eaten a significant number. I still have those cupcakes on my mind and think I may try to fit them into my schedule in the upcoming week.  Scroll down to see what festive dishes others came up with for this month's Crazy Ingredient Challenge!

Cranberry Spice Biscotti

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup - 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line one large or two small baking sheets with parchment, non-stick foil or baking mats. 
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
Whisk spices and brown sugar into melted butter then whisk in egg and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just until the flour streaks disappear. Stir in chopped cranberries. Don't over mix. Dough will be very sticky.
Divide the dough into two. With floured or wet hands, pat each piece into an 11" x 2.5" smooth rectangle.
Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for another 25 minutes then slice at 1/2 inch intervals on a slight diagonal.
Place the slices cut side up and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the cookies and bake for another 5 minutes or until both sides are golden.
Cool completely.

You'll note that my ratio of cinnamon/ ginger to other spices is a bit more than 2 parts. I thought the biscotti could do with an extra cinnamon and ginger kick so I added an extra half teaspoon of each but didn't increase the other spices.