Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Biscotti Toscani

A little snack to get me through the day tomorrow....
(Ignore the runty looking slices in the middle of the photo. Those were the butts of the biscotti logs.)

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I omitted these and subbed in Crasins)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond pieces (X'ed out too)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and zest. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in almonds. Divide dough into two pieces. Form into long flat loaves about 1/2 inch tall and 12 inches long. Place the loaves 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  4. With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turning over once. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Place chocolate chips into a small, microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until smooth. Use a spatula to spread chocolate onto one side of each cookie. Let stand at room temperature until set. Store biscotti at room temperature in an airtight container.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

An excuse to make cupcakes (and crack)

5 lbs.
That's the result of dating my boyfriend for 5 months now. Good food, bottles of wine, and a partner in crime who will indulge in ice cream and sweets with you daily will do that to you. That's 1 lb. per month. At the rate I'm going, I might need a new wardrobe every few months!

Therefore, I'm in detox. Two weeks of no drinking or eating baked goods.

But I have an itch to bake. It's quite a predicament...I want to bake gooey, chocolately, buttery cookies, tender-crumbed cupcakes and rich creamy pies, but what's the point? I can't enjoy these devilish treats since I'm in detox.

When my friend Wendy invited me to her block party, my ears perked up. Party = party food. Party food includes sweet treats. Sweet treats = baked goods.... Idea! Pawn off food to others. This gives me an excuse to bake those cupcakes I've always wanted to try!

I made Billy's vanilla, vanilla cupcakes from They are terrific! The cupcakes have a perfectly domed top and the texture is both light and rich at the same time. (And the raw batter is the best I've ever licked!)

I definitely recommend using Billy's buttercream frosting recipe with them too. It's a fluffy frosting that's not overly stiff. My butter was a bit too soft and my kitchen was warm, so my frosting was lacking a bit of its stiffness, but once I popped it into the fridge for a bit, it was A-ok. I used a 1 1/2 Tbs. cookie scoop to plop on a dollop of frosting on each cupcake and used a offset spatula to swirl the frosting around.

And just for good measure, I made some Crack Rock too. (Aka. The toffee bark in the top photo.)

Here's the recipe:

1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups of chocolate chips
couple handfuls of chopped walnuts (or nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Arrange saltine crackers on an edged cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for 5 min or so
  3. Pour sugar mixture over the saltines.
  4. Bake for 5 min, remove from oven.
  5. Sprinkle on the choc. chips and let sit until chocolate melts.
  6. Spread chocolate evenly over toffee layer. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.