Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Black Bottom Coconut Bars

This month, the Cookie Carnival bakers took their inspiration from Martha & Co. and made the Black Bottom Coconut Bars that were featured in the December 2005 edition of Everyday Food magazine.

They were a thin but very chocolatey brownie with a coconut topping.

The brownie layer is baked first and then the coconut layer is added. Here you can see the coconut layer before I smoothed it out and baked.

I thought these were pretty darned good, but that they would have been better if the coconut layer were a wee bit sweeter. If I were to make these again, I would add more sugar to the coconut layer... then they would probably be perfect.

They would make a great addition to a holiday cookie tray. You can find the recipe HERE.

OK, over and out until next month... I can't wait to see what Kate at The Clean Plate Club has up her sleeve for next month. If you'd like to join in the cookie fun, you can click on the "Cookie Carnival" link above :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWD: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart

I guess it's appropriate that Carla of Chocolate Moosey chose Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart for this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe. I would expect nothing less than a rich, chocolatey dessert from a blog named "Chocolate Moosey". Thanks Carla!

I have to admit that my interest in chocolate has waned since I've started this blog. Hard to believe, I know. I once considered myself a die-hard chocolate fan.

Don't get me wrong, I still love chocolate. I guess I've just fallen in love with so many non-chocolate desserts since I started blogging that I no longer have a one-track mind when it comes to sweets.

Although this tart could very well swing me back to the dark (chocolate) side. Oh, holy cow! Was it ever delish!

There was a caramely peannutty treasure hidden under the luscious chocolate ganache. Seriously, this was the best caramel I've ever made, and possibly the best I've ever tasted. I could eat it with a spoon!

Thanks so much to Carla for this fabulous pick. If you'd like to peak at the recipe, check out Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours", or visit Carla's site.

Baking Notes:
- I made one 4" tart
- I used my home-made puff pastry for the tart shell. I baked for maybe 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F with pie weights in the shell and then maybe 5-7 with them removed.
- I quartered the amount of peanuts
- I quartered the ganache recipe and still had probably double what I needed. I used semisweet chocolate
- I made the whole caramel recipe, since it really wasn't that much, and I figured since I typically struggle with caramel, having more would increase my chance of success.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Vols-au-Vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Mmmm, homemade puff pastry. It seems much harder to make than it really is.

Puff pastry is a laminated dough, where a slab of butter is first wrapped in a simple flour dough, almost like a present wrapped in wrapping paper , and then repeatedly rolled out and folded like a business letter.

With all of the rolling and folding, the butter layers get thinner and thinner, sandwiched between increasing layers of dough. When baked, the moisture in the butter turns to vapor and the layers poof and puff, hence the name.

We were to use our puff pastry to make Vols-au-Vent, or cute little puff pastry "bowls" holding our choice of filling. I filled mine with peanut butter mousse (recipe below) and just a touch of leftover chocolate icing from another recipe that I thinned down.

I cut various shapes, two of each size. One of each was used to form the bottom of the bowl and one was cut a second time using a smaller cutter to form the sides of the bowl.

The shapes are stacked in preparation for baking. The "leftover" cutouts can be baked and used for lids (or snacking).

Then it's time to fill and enjoy!

I have to say I really enjoyed making puff pastry. Something about the rolling and folding... very therapeutic! And it tastes fantastic! So light and flaky, it's a dream.

I don't think mine rose as much as some I've seen. I'm not sure why though. But it was still good and I'm so thankful I've had a chance to make it. Thanks Steph!

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

You can find a copy of the printable recipe by clicking ----> HERE.

Peanut Butter Mousse

3 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
3/4 c. peanut butter
2 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla

Cream the cream cheese with powdered sugar. Add milk and peanut butter. Whip and fold in the cream and vanilla.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Baby Cake

Just a quick little post about a quick little cake.

Our cake club volunteered to make centerpiece cakes for the Ohio ICES Day of Sharing this Sunday (Sept. 27 in Columbus, OH... details are HERE.) In case you don't know ICES is an international cake decorating organization and a "Day of Sharing" is just that, a day to get together with other cake decorators for demonstrations, classes, and fellowship.

Anyway, our cake club chose baby shower themed cakes and this was my contribution. It's covered in buttercream and decorated with fondant accents and a little bit of piping. I impressed the fondant accents with a stamp, and was inspired by My Sweet and Saucy and her totally adorable cakes.

Somehow, things like those wonky (as in not-straight) lines never show themselves until you bring out the camera, to be captured forever in film (or pixels, as the case may be).

OK, thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets

YEAH! It’s finally my turn to pick the weekly Tuesday’s with Dorie recipe! Many, many thanks to Laurie of Quirky Cupcake for starting this fantastic group and of course, to Dorie Greenspan, author of "Baking, from My Home to Yours", for continuing to inspire us week after week with fantastic recipes. Hers is one of the best overall baking books to be had. And to all of the other bakers who offer suggestions and encouragement week in and week out, Thank You!

For my pick, I chose the Cottage Cheese Pufflets.

There was a lot of discussion in the TWD forum that the pufflet dough was very soft and sticky and that plenty of chilling time was essential while rolling out the dough. This actually worked out fine for me though, because our annual neighborhood garage sale was this past weekend.

Somewhere between making, rolling, and cutting the dough, then forming the pufflets, I was able scrounge up enough ancient and dusty “treasures” from the depths of my closets to hold a halfway respectable sale.

If I ever get a wild hair and decide to get a PhD after I retire, just for giggles, you know, I think I’ll major in Psychology and my thesis will be “The Psychology of Garage Sales”. Because, really. What is with people at garage sales?

Maybe it's because I'm a night owl, but I just don't understand why people show up before the sale starts, before you've even opened the garage door. I came stumbling out of my garage at 7:30 (on a Saturday morning!) to find people waiting. Is it really that important to get first dibs on my 10-year old (but still fully functioning) blender?

Then there are those that get mad when you have the nerve to charge, like, a whole dollar for something. That happened with one cranky grandma and her sweet little grandson. I was about to give them the “cute-kid” discount for some books he wanted when she opened her mouth and started giving me attitude. I quickly decided the “cranky grandma” surcharge cancels out the “cute-kid” discount. Maybe I should have offered them a pufflet, surely that would have helped.

Then there are the serious hagglers. I had one woman pick up a big pile of cake-decorating books, each with a $1 sticker attached (they definitely cost more than a dollar new). She asked how much I wanted for them. I was thinking to myself “I want $1 each for them, and that’s why I have a $1 sticker on each and every one”. It seemed pretty self explanatory. But I, being nice and also lacking in negotiating skills, gave her a price maybe 60% of the asking price. Then she asked if I would take a dollar less. I just stood there and looked at her. She had nerve, I give her that.

But no, it wasn’t all early birds and cranky people and hagglers. They were few and far between, really. Most people were friendly and nice and it brings joy to my heart knowing that so many adorable kidlets will enjoy my boys’ long neglected toys. Not to mention the little pile of extra “dough” (of the green variety) that I have stashed in the drawer.

Oh wait, you came here to talk about dough of the cottage cheese variety, right? Right.

I have to agree that the dough was very soft. I chilled mine for quite a while before rolling between two pieces of wax paper. Then I chilled for another spell before cutting into squares (yes, I know most of those are really rectangles. I seem to be incapable of cutting a square.)

I had to chill between every 4 to 5 pufflets, but eventually got them filled. I used cherry preserves.

I have to tell you first, before showing you the baked pufflets, that I DID seal the edges. I did, I tell you!

Too bad there's not a prize for "Most Leaky Pufflets", LOL.

And how were they? I really enjoyed them. The cookie had a nice, rich flavor due to the cottage cheese. Since the amount of sugar was small, they weren't very sweet, but more on the tangy side. That paired nicely with the sweet cherry preserves.

I need to try them again so I can redeem myself in the leakage department. I will also try the suggestion of some bakers to drain the cottage cheese first.

Thank you to those that stopped by and listened to me gab about my big adventure this weekend. I'll sign off with one last thought... a little piece of advice for folks trying to decide whether to date or marry someone. Take them to a garage sale first. That will tell you everything you need to know.

Cottage Cheese Pufflets

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces (about ¾ cup) cottage cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
About ¼ cup thick preserves, marmalade or jam (your choice)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Put the butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times, for 2 minutes, or until the butter is completely creamy. Add the cottage cheese and vanilla and process for another 2 minutes again scraping the bowl once or twice. The mixture will be velvety, more like whipped cream cheese than cottage cheese. Add the flour, pulsing only until it is thoroughly blended into the dough.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a rectangle or square, pat it down, cover it completely and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.)

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

To roll out the dough, you can work either between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface.

Cut the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough to a thickness of a scant 1/8 inch. Because you are going to be cutting the dough into squares, it’s best to roll it into a rectangular or square shape. If at any time the dough seems too soft to roll, pop it into the refrigerator for a quick chill.

Using a cookie cutter, a paring knife or a pastry wheel, cut the dough into 2- to 3-inch squares. (I use a 2 ¼ inch square cookie cutter.) Put a dab of jam on one square of dough, just off center, and, with a wet finger, moisten the edges of the dough. Fold the dough over to enclose the jam and form a triangle, pressing lightly to seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining squares and line the pufflets up on the baking sheets, spacing them about ½ inch apart. Poke a minute steam hole in the center of each. (You can roll, fill and shape the pufflets, freeze them on a tray, then, when they are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container. The pufflets can be baked straight from the freezer – no need to defrost – just add another 2 minutes or so to the baking time.)

Bake the pastries one sheet at a time for 10 to 12 minutes, or until puffed, firm and beautifully golden. Transfer the pufflets to a rack, dust with confectioner’s sugar and cool to warm or room temperature before serving.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cake Slice: Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

I know, I know, it doesn't look like a cake, does it? Well, it started out as cake and ended up as a trifle. (I believe "trifle" translates roughly to "cake that falls apart and is beyond saving". Or at least in this case anyway)

This month, the Cake Slice Bakers made the Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake from the book "Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes" by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne.

(If you want to see what this cake was supposed to look like, please visit the other Cake Slice Bakers.)

The cake was made up of three parts, one of which I messed up...

1) a really moist and delicious chocolate cake, which came out perfectly.

2) a sour cream chocolate frosting, which was darned good and very chocolatey.

3) a white chocolate mousse filling. This is the part that led to the cake's ultimate demise. It was made with white chocolate, whipped cream, and meringue. I tried using a pasteurized egg white product for the meringue since I didn't want to use raw egg whites. Normally I'm not too worried about egg whites but one of the folks that was to eat the cake is in poor health. Anyway, against my better judgement I used a portion of the poorly whipped egg whites (they didn't even make it to the soft peak stage) which led to a really soft filling, which ultimately led to the cake falling apart as I was icing it.

I just didn't have the time to fuss with it, so I pitched the whole thing in a bowl, chopped it up a bit, and then layered it in a second bowl with whipped cream and raspberries.

Apparently the baking gods were smiling on me because it tasted awesome. I was so glad because this was supposed to be a birthday cake and I was slightly embarrassed to show up with cake in a bowl.

Although the cake didn't end up as planned, it wasn't a total lost cause. At least I learned that you can't make meringue using "Just Whites" egg product.

OK, that's all for now. Stay tuned for next month's Cake Slice post on October 20, when we bake our first cake from the book "Southern Cakes" by Nancie McDermott.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

Makes a 9-inch triple layer cake; serves 12 to 16
from Sky High Irresistible Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup milk
1 ¼ cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
2 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat or fat free)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups sugar
White chocolate mousse (below)
Sour cream chocolate icing (below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9 inch round cake pans. Line the base of each pan with parchment.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.

In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before un-molding onto a wire rack and carefully peeling off the paper. Leave to cool completely.

White Chocolate Mousse

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1 tbsp sugar

Melt the white chocolate with ¼ cup cream in a double boiler. Whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the white chocolate cream cool to room temperature.

When it has cooled, beat the remaining ¾ cup cream until soft peaks form. In a clean bowl whip the egg white with the sugar until fairly stiff peaks form.

Fold the beaten egg white into the white chocolate cream, then fold in the whipped cream until blended. Be sure not to over mix.

Sour Cream Chocolate Icing

12 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
¼ cup half-and-half at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature

Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in the half-and-half and sour cream. Use while still soft.

To Assemble

Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with half the white chocolate mousse, leaving a ¼ inch margin around the edge. Repeat with the second layer and the remaining mousse. Set the third layer on top and pour half the sour cream chocolate icing over the filled cake. Spread all over the sides and top. Don’t worry if some of the cake shows through. This first frosting is to seal in the crumbs, and is known as a crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

After this time cover the cake with the rest of the icing, smoothing it down the sides. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Use a palette knife or the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting around the cake.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers (& Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake)

It was an apple dessert double-header at my house this weekend.

Fine by me! If I were asked to make a list of my all-time favorite food combinations, apples, sugar, and cinnamon would be hovering near the top.

Mmmm, I could eat 'em with a spoon.

But anyway, first up on the dessert menu was Flaky Apple Turnovers, chosen by Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

I really loved these handy little pies. The crust was so flaky and light. I just wish I could have squeezed more apples inside. But my dough was so soft (thanks to a really humid kitchen)... it just wasn't happening.

Next... when I heard that an apple dessert was in the queue for TWD this month, I also wanted to try the Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake that was made before I joined. Natalie of Burned Bits picked this treat back in March, 2008.

I loved how bumpy and golden and fantastic it looked.

Apple and cinnamon heaven, baby!

This was a really interesting recipe. I halved the recipe and made it in an 8-inch square pan. (The full recipe goes in a 9x13-inch pan.) First, a layer of cookie-like dough was rolled out and placed in the pan.

Next went a mother-lode of apples, cinnamon, sugar, and plump, juicy raisins, all topped with another layer of dough.

The edges were tucked into the sides of the pan "as though you were making a bed" (I never make my bed (what's the point? you just get back in it and mess it up again) but I was able to figure this part out, LOL).

After baking, it ends up somewhere between a pie and a cake. But either way, it's delicious.

I think if I made this again, I might increase the amount of sugar, or maybe add some butter (?) to the filling. I thought it could stand to be a wee bit "juicier".

But still, it was delish. So were the turnovers. If the apple pie cake filling was a little juicier, I would have a hard time picking between these two treats.

OK, I'm signing off until next week (when it's my pick, yeah!). If you'd like to see the recipes, please pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours", or stop by Julie or Natalie's blogs.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake

I'm going to share my ages old recipe for Zucchini Chocolate-Chip Cake in a bit, but I need to explain a few things first.

I have Susan at She's Becoming DoughMessTic to thank for my latest kick, letter writing! Susan's responsible for a couple of reasons... first I won this totally adorable stationary set (courtesy of the folks at Yoplait) in a giveaway she was hosting (thanks, Susan and thanks, Yoplait!).

Secondly, she started a blogging pen-pals group, which you can read about here and here (at the bottom of her post).

Isn't that a fun idea? pen-pals? When's the last time you wrote a letter? I honestly can't remember the last time I wrote one.

So I signed up for Susan's pen-pal group and promptly notified my two pen-pal-ees, Tania and Sue (Sue, girl, I still need your address). We were to include a hand-written recipe with our letter so I decided to send one of my all-time favorite cake recipes from back when I was a kid, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake.

I hadn't made it in ages, so I thought I'd better do a trial run to make sure it still worked out OK. I'm happy to report that it was still awesome and I had to share it with others pronto or I'd have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake
Courtesy of our old family friend, Irene Fegler of Riverton, Wyoming

3 eggs
1 C. oil (or substitute 1/2 C. oil + 1/2 C. applesauce for a lower fat version)
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 C. sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 C. chocolate chips
1/2 C. chopped nuts
2 C. grated zucchini
cream cheese icing, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13-inch pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess flour.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat the eggs until foamy (I whisked by hand, but I suppose you could use a mixer) and add to the flour mixture. Add the oil and vanilla and mix well. (I substituted applesauce for half of the oil this time and it worked out fine, although it seemed like the cake didn't rise as much, but the taste was the same.)

Add the chocolate chips, nuts and zucchini and mix well.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (or possibly longer) or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, or when the sides of the cake just start to pull away from the pan. This time, I halved the recipe and baked in an 8-inch square pan. My baking time was 35 minutes in the 8-inch pan, so that's why I'm a little uncertain on the time required for a 9x13-inch cake.

Cool in pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. At this point you can turn the cake out of the pan onto a serving plate, or you can leave it in the pan, it's up to you. Cool to room temperature and frost with cream cheese icing (cream cheese icing recipe might make more than required. That's OK, it freezes beautifully.)

Cream Cheese Icing

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla 1 pkg.
(16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups), sifted

BEAT cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

ADD sugar gradually, beating until well blended after each addition.

OK, folks, that's that. If you try this, give me a holler and let me know how you like it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Souffle

I wonder whether some of you will be offended, or at least taken aback, when I tell you that I've learned a lot about parenting by watching dog shows. (Gasp!) You know, dog obedience shows like Dog Whisperer and It's Me or the Dog. It sounds terrible to say, I know.

But really, many of the principles are the same when dealing with kids of both the smooth and the furry varieties.

Case in point. On a recent "It's me or the Dog", Victoria, the dog trainer was working with an adorable (but ill-mannered) little Pomeranian. She was trying to teach him that he needed to be quiet in order to get his toy, rather than demanding and barking. In the exercise, Victoria brought out the toys, but calmly refused to give poochy his toy until he was quiet. He was *not* happy. He yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, (cue the "20 minutes later" caption) and yapped, and yapped, and yapped until FINALLY he stopped. Boom! He got the toy.

You know, the old "rewarding positive behavior" rather than negative behavior. You know, that they taught in Childrearing 101. (Oh, you missed that day too?)

Fast forward to today, as I was happily making my chocolate souffle. I had just gotten through the one-minute window in which to take pictures of the just-baked souffle, when some sort of hullabaloo erupted in the other room. There was my 10-year old, fussing, fighting with innocent bystanders, and generally acting ugly.

I promptly ushered him to the back porch and applied my new dog-training skills. I parked my chair in front of the door and told him if he wanted back inside I needed to see the right behavior. I helped by giving a few clues as to the expected behavior and I waited. And ignored. He was *not* happy. He yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, and yapped, (fortunately it didn't take 20 minutes). Then he was quiet. I asked if he was ready, but didn't like the snappish answer, so I waited some more. And ignored. And stayed cool as a cucumber. He yapped a while longer. Then stopped. I asked again and this time got a much calmer, nicer answer. Boom! He got back inside.

And there was this sweet little chocolate treat on the table right where I left it, waiting to be gobbled up by me. My reward for a parenting job well-done. A little chocolate atta-girl.

It had collapsed, but no matter.

It tasted wonderful. Something like a very fluffy chocolate cake. Or very fluffy chocolate pudding, I couldn't tell which.

Many thanks to Susan of She’s Becoming DoughMessTic for choosing Chocolate Souffle for this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe. I had neither tried nor baked a souffle before.

Baking notes: I made 1/4 of the recipe and baked it in two 5-ounce ramekins (which fit perfectly). I baked for 19 minutes at 400 degrees. I used semi-sweet chocolate (I'm a dark chocolate wuss).

You can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours", or at Susan's site above.

P.S. Bouyed by my earlier success I tried one of my new dog-training skills on the dog. And it worked! I'm two for two!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pistachio with Golden Raisin Biscotti

I've mentioned before that I'm a newcomer to the biscotti scene. But I've fallen hard and fast for these Italian cookies.

I recently tried this recipe from the book "Biscotti" by Lou Seibert Pappas. Mmm, boy, were they good!

Biscotti are a perfect cookie for add-ins. For this recipe, I substituted dried cranberries for the golden raisins called for in the recipe (had one, but not the other). To me, the lovely green pistachios practically beg to be paired with ruby red cranberries.

They're so easy to form, it almost feels like cheating. I make a haphazard "log" by first globbing the dough in a somewhat loggish fashion onto the cookie sheet.

Then, kinda sorta smooth it into a solid mass.

Magically, they bake into their trade-mark shape.

All that's left is to slice them into nice chunky cookies and pop them back in the oven to crisp.

I decided to dress them up by drizzling some white chocolate over top.

Although they kind of remind me of poor Gulliver, who had the misfortune of being tied up by those pesky Lilliputians.

(Looks like the cookies agree.)

Pistachio and Golden Raisin Biscotti
Reprinted with permission from "Biscotti" by Lou Seifert Pappas (you can read more about Lou HERE.)
(my comments in italics)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups shelled whole pistachio nuts
1 1/4 cups golden raisins (I used dried cranberries)
3 to 4 oz. white chocolate, optional

In a mixing bowl cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture, mixing just until crumbly. (It did not come together into a ball at this point. Don't worry if it's dry and crumbly.) In a separate bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form and beat in remaining sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.

Fold meringue into the crumbly dough, mixing until it clings together. Fold in nuts and raisins. Divide dough in half. Form into two logs on a greased and floured baking sheet, making them about 1/2 inch thick, 1 1/2 inches wide and 16 inches long, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (Mine were approx. 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. What you see in my pictures is half of a batch, which makes one log.)

Bake in the middle of a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until set and golden brown. Transfer from the baking sheet to a rack. Let cool 5 minutes. Place on a cutting board. With a serrated knife slice diagonally at a 45 degree angle to 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices upright on a baking sheet and return to the oven at 300 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes to dry slightly. Let cool on a rack. Store in a tightly covered container.

Chocolate Glaze variation: Place the chocolate in a small bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Heat until chocolate melts. Stir to blend. Or place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium about 2 minutes, or until melted. Stir to blend. Spread chocolate with a spatula over entire top surface of cookies. (I drizzled it using a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.) Let cool at room temperature until set.

Makes about 4 dozen.