Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Treats - Bark and Biscotti

Last year, I made bark to give as gifts to people at work, in addition to some other goodies. This year, I decided to broaden my bark repertoire and also try my hands at some biscotti.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

2 pounds of white chocolate
2 tabs of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
lots of crushed candy canes (sorry, I didn’t measure)

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Be really careful with white chocolate, it tends to seize really easily and quickly. Thankfully this year, I had great success – not a single batch seized! Once nearly melted, add the butter to give the chocolate extra sheen. Also add the extract and crushed candy canes. Stir to combine and then spread on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Spread evenly and stuck in fridge to harden. Break into odd shaped pieces, package, serve, or eat!

Dark Chocolate Bark with Candied Pecans and Cranberries

2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate
2 tabs unsalted butter
fresh ground cloves
fresh ground cinnamon
fresh ground nutmeg
2 cups pecans, chopped
2 cups dried cranberries

First, candy the nuts by combining a half stick of butter with ¾ cup brown sugar. You can always adjust the butter/brown sugar amounts to suit your needs. Once combined, add the chopped pecans, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Sauté for about 5-8 minutes, then transfer to a wax paper lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350. Let cool. Once cooled, break apart into small pieces.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once nearly melted, add the butter, and a few dashes of cinnamon and cloves. You can then proceed one of two ways…

1. Stir in the pecans and cranberries, then spread chocolate mixture evenly onto a lined baking sheet.
2. Spread cranberries and pecans on a lined baking sheet, then add chocolate mixture on top, spreading evenly.

Cranberry-Pistachio and Almond-Cherry Biscotti

I used this Martha Stewart recipe, but made some changes or additions. I made one batch with the cranberry and pistachio, as Martha suggests, and in a second batch, I used dried cherries and almonds, and instead of 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, I did one vanilla and one almond extract.

1 cup dried cranberries (recipe called for ½ cup, I increased this)
1 cup boiling water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons room temp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 large eggs
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (in one batch, I did one vanilla, and one teaspoon almond)
¾ cup coarsely chopped pistachios, unsalted (in one batch, I replaced for almonds)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cranberries in a small bowl, and add boiling water to plump. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

In an electric mixer (using paddle attachment), mix together butter and sugar. Then add eggs, one at a time. Next add extract, and then add flour mixture in 2 or 3 steps. Mix on low speed until combined, then add cranberries and nuts.

Move dough to lightly floured surface and dust completely with flour. Cut dough in half and transfer to baking sheets. Then form into two evenly shaped logs and square off ends.

Cover logs in an egg wash, and then sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Transfer logs on parchment paper to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.

Then slice on a diagonal into ½ slices. Place on baking sheet and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.

I then drizzled some with white and dark chocolate, and dipped others. The dough was a little sticky, but I liked the consistency of it, as it was easy to form and held its shape. Once dusted with flour, the stickiness was a non-issue.

This was my first time making biscotti, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I thought it was delcisou and fairly simple to make!

My treats, ready to go...

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

That Girl said...

There was peppermint bark in Thatboy's stocking this year. I think he ate almost the entire tin!