I have to say I am really disappointed about how the holidays, especially Christmas have become all about money and how much we can spend. It is over-commercialized, so much in fact, I am sure people have really lost sight of the true meaning. Even us to a point. I spent the morning cramming in all of our holiday shopping. I use to spread the joy out for an entire month before the holidays with shopping for the perfect gift, decorating, baking gifts to send out, and endless entertainment. The past couple of years I have just lost that holiday mojo. I still make sure that the gifts we do buy fit the receiver perfectly, I cannot buy for the purpose of buying or producing a gift. I don’t bake as much as I use too and we don’t entertain as much as we use too. Maybe this year was different because Lenny is leaving in two days or maybe because the country is in a different economic state or maybe it is because I just feel like we have really lost the true meaning of Christmas! We have not decorated. We have not baked nearly as much as we do. And then halfway through shopping today, it just hit me, that I was kind of going through the holiday motions and it bummed me out. Maybe it hit me because I had just read Jen’s blog posting about all the great holiday things she was making and sharing with everyone? Or maybe it was because we were not going to be together this year – we are each going to be on different coasts this year. Regardless, I was determined to get some of that holiday joy back into our lives before Lenny leaves and before the year ends so I started baking Lenox Almond Biscotti.
Every year we make it point to bake or make something that we give out to a few select people, it is always something different every year and it goes to someone different every year. How do we decide; it just comes to us! Last year we gave out homemade cardamon ice cream and burnt salted caramel sauce. This year it was biscotti. I love Dorie Greenpan’s Lenox Biscotti recipe … it is unusually soft compared to your traditional biscotti but still has crazy texture thanks to the cornmeal addition. I made two flavors: Apricots with Portuguese Brandy and Blood Orange zest with Vietnamese Cinnamon and fresh ground pepper. As well I found a Chocolate biscotti in Dorie’s book, so I gave it a whirl and made Chocolate with dried cherries, almonds, and Mexican Vanilla. Some lucky friends and family members will be spicing up their coffee breaks later this week!
I have to say after baking and wrapping gifts, a bit of that holiday mojo started coming back. I look forward to enjoying what is left of the holidays and want to do so by gifting the gift of joy and love to one lucky person. We love Gourmet magazine and it has been the come too and go back too tool for new and innovating cooking ideas, for us this past year. We want to give one lucky reader a one-year subscription and a batch of biscotti, to say Thank You for visiting Chez Us and to wish you a happy holiday season and may your Holiday Mojo never disappear!
Lenox Almond Biscotti
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons of pure almond extract
3/4 cup of sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal together. (If you are adding ground spices, add them to this mixture before combining.)
Beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed for 3 minutes, until very smooth. Add the eggs and continue to beat, scraping down the bowl as needed, for another 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light, smooth and creamy.
Beat in the almond extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You’ll have a soft, stick-to-your-fingers dough that will ball up around the paddle or beaters. Scrape down the paddle and bowl, toss in the almonds and mix just to blend.
Scrape half the dough onto one side of the baking sheet. Using your fingers and a rubber spatula or scraper, work the dough into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. The log will be more rectangular than domed, and bumpy, rough and uneven. Form a second log with the remaining dough on the other side of the baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the logs are lightly golden but still soft and springy to the touch. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and cool the logs on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.
Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board and, with a long serrated knife, trim the ends and cut the logs into 3/4-inch-thick slices.
Return the slices to the baking sheet, setting them again on the same sides as before and slide the sheet back into the oven.
Bake the biscotti at 350F for another 25 minutes, or until they are golden and firm. Transfer them to racks and cool to room temperature.
Eat or wrap as a gift.