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Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Multicultural Experience

Almost a decade ago, shortly after we were married, Goose and I went to visit some friends over in Holland, Michigan.  These friends always had been and continue to be dear to us.  Heck, they even stood in our wedding!  And let us borrow two out of three of their boys to be our ring bearers and let their incredible cuteness take some of the spotlight off of us.  Now that their four progeny are all in school, mom has actually gotten in touch with her fantastically crafty side.  Be sure to check it out here.

While we were there visiting the quaint little town of Zeeland, I bought a cookbook.  It is a bit of a tradition in my family to purchase a cookbook wherever your travels take you. 

Apparently, it's a good one.

Says so right here.  I didn't even know Tabasco had cookbook awards.  Or that one would be awarded to a cookbook featuring Dutch specialties.

The girl and I found this in the book.  A biscotti recipe in a Dutch cookbook.  Sounds about right.

Good thing, too.  The other day, I dared stop in a HomeSense.  Always a brew up for trouble.  A glass jar there began calling my name.  I resisted its lures and fled to my truck with my two youngest in tow.

Then my birthday came.  And I was given money.  And I went back for it.

And there she be. A thing of beauty.  Unlike so many other poor imitations, this one has an excellent rubber seal, making it not only pretty, but pretty functional, too.

So, lest this little number waste away from lack of use, I cracked open the cookbook and got started.  Why not start out by using a new recipe to fill a new vessel?

The recipe actually calls for unsweetened chocolate.  Semi-sweet is what I had so semi-sweet is what we used.

Now, I know I can melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave, but something just feels better about using the stove top.  Try to be patient and keep the heat low on your burner.  Chocolate and butter both burn very quickly.  This is especially important when using an electric element, since you can't immediately extinguish the heat source.

As a brief aside, can I nominate whomever was responsible for forming baking chocolate into neat little squares and wrapping it in the parchment?  Pure genius.  I love pre-measured ingredients.  Drastically cuts down on the amount of thinking I have to do in a day.

All nice and smooth and creamy.  Turn it off and let it cool a minute while you move on to the next part.

Three eggs and a cup of sugar with the handy dandy whisk attachment.

The recipe calls for whipping until light and frothy.  Since I've never made biscotti before, I guessed and figured this was about right.

Next, pour in the melted chocolate mixture.  By allowing it to cool before adding it, you've reduced your chances of curdling your eggs.  And increased your chances of making cookies instead of breakfast.  Turn on the machine and let'er rip.

Then the flour, salt, and baking powder into a separate bowl.  Buying baking powder in the larger container is more economical, but the stuff will lose its oomph if it gets old.  If you fear that may happen at your house, keep it in the freezer.  It will keep for as long as you need it in there.  Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients.  This will have a lot of the same effect as using a sifter.

By now, the mixer concoction looks something like this.

Gently pour in the flour and let the machine slowly stir to combine all of the ingredients.

Once it is all combined, you will end up with a really heavy, thick batter.  With the nuts and chocolate chips still to be added, I switched to the paddle attachment to finish off the job.  This would mean extra dishes of course.

Not to worry, though.  I have people for that sort of thing.

This particular recipe calls for dividing the dough into three roughly equal sized batches, wrapping them in plastic wrap, and refrigerating for an hour.  This allows the melted butter to firm up.  Don't go too much longer than an hour.  You risk the butter becoming so hard again that the mixture is unworkable.  Then you'd have to let it warm up again and it would probably get too warm and then cool off and you would never get your cookies made.

After the mandatory chilling period, it looks roughly the same as it did when it went into the fridge.  Only colder. The experience has definitely changed it some.

The recipe very specifically calls for rolling these into 9" long logs, then pressing them down to a 2" thickness, and placing them precisely 3" apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  My helper measured to make sure I was doing it properly.  Not that she can actually read a ruler yet.  But we all felt more reassured.

Please note:  if you are baking these with boys in the house, bathroom humour will ensue.

Pop them into the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes or so.

When it comes out, the recipe dictates that you need to take the logs off the cookie tray and use a serrated knife to cut them on the diagonal, before placing them upright back on the baking sheet.  I actually found that cleaver worked really well, and I just cut them in place and spread them out to bake again.  And bake they did.  Another 20 minutes at 350 F.

And voila!  Double chocolate pecan biscotti from the Dutch cookbook.  The double baking leaves them almost dry and perfect for dunking in coffee or tea.

They will keep nicely in a beautiful airtight container like this one for a very long time.  Considerably longer than your average chocolate chip cookie.  Not that I really think that will be an issue here.  They also freeze exceptionally well.  If I were giving these as a gift, I may even consider dipping one end in melted chocolate.  You could also bake the entire batch as one large log to get few, but larger, cookies.  Just make sure the thickness is consistent at around the 2" mark.

Use your ruler if you have to. 1. 2.
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1 comment:

  1. These cookies sound delicious! I am now craving a chocolate cookie. Sigh. Maybe I'll make hubby stop on his way home from work to pick up something yummy... then tomorrow I will try to bake something new if the baby allows me to :)
    Great blog!