It wouldn’t be Christmas in my house without cakes and cookies filled with the wonderful flavors of cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Most importantly, it wouldn’t smell like Christmas. We love the aroma of warm burnt almonds, gingerbread and lebkuchen so when I saw this recipe for gingerbread biscotti at Joy of Baking I was positive we would like this treat as well. They are described as not overly sweet, with chunks of hazelnuts, lots of sweet and juicy raisins, lovely flecks of rolled oats, just a hint of molasses, and are warmly spiced with ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves – a recipe with our name on it if there ever was one.
I dipped the cooked and cooled biscotti in melted white chocolate. The rich creaminess of the chocolate and the spiciness of the cookie are a delicious flavor and texture contrast.
Loaves of biscotti dough after the first baking. They are nicely browned and firm to the touch.
The warm loaves are cut into diagonal slices and baked again until they are crisp. The word “Biscotti” (singular Biscotto) originates in Medieval Latin and translates to “twice baked biscuit.”
- ¾ cup (100 grams) hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (can also use pecans or walnuts)
- 1 cup (100 grams) old fashioned rolled oats
- 1¾ cups (225 grams) all purpose flour
- ¾ cup (160 grams) dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) unsulphured molasses (such as Grandma’s Molasses)
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil (or corn oil)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (95 grams) dark or golden raisins
- GLAZE (optional)
- ½ cup (55 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 – 3 tablespoons milk or light cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until brown and fragrant and the skins are starting to peel. Remove from oven, place the warm hazelnuts in a clean dish towel, roll it up, and let the nuts ‘steam’ for about five minutes. Then briskly rub the nuts, while still in the towel, to remove most of their skins. Set aside to let the nuts cool and then coarsely chop. (Note: To toast pecans, walnuts, or almonds, bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until brown and fragrant.)
- In a food processor, process ½ cup of the rolled oats until finely ground.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine the ½ cup of finely ground oats, the remaining ½ cup of rolled oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses, oil, and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the chopped hazelnuts and raisins and beat just until incorporated.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide the dough in half. Take each half of dough and form it into a log, about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Transfer the logs to a cutting board and cut into ¾ inch slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until dry and firm. Remove from oven and let cool. Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.
- Glaze (optional): In a small bowl stir together the sugar, vanilla extract, and enough milk (cream) to make a smooth, thick, yet pourable glaze. Use a small spoon to drizzle several thin lines of the glaze over each biscotti. Let the biscotti sit at room temperature until the glaze has completely dried.
If you like biscotti nice and crisp leave them in the oven after they have been turned and baked the second 6 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the tray of cookies in the oven to cool.
Several cookies in a festive cellophane bag make a lovely gift throughout the holiday season. My family loves little gifts like this when they stop by to visit and it’s fun to have something special for friends and neighbors. Christmas is two weeks from today and I’m not anywhere near ready for the big day. Usually gifts are bought and wrapped by the first of December. I’ve put off going to the Mall as long as I can and today I have to face it. Wish me luck!
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