Tag Archives: Biscotti

Food Blogger Cookie Swap IV: Denver

14 Dec

2014-11-30 13.22.52This was our fourth year participating in the food blogger cookie swap (you can check my posts from 2011, 2012, and 2013). Nora and I are both proud to have been with The Swap since the beginning and look forward to it every year! Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil organize it, and they deserve some major acknowledgement for their work. Thank you, ladies!

For my 2014 submission, I decided to make green tea biscotti. I made biscotti during my first year; I loved how they turned out and they were hardy enough to ship without worrying much about crumbling, etc. I got really into baking with machta powder a few years ago when a coworker requested Green Tea Cupcakes for his birthday treat. I decided to give biscotti a similar twist and see what happened.

Turns out there are tons of recipes out there for machta biscotti. The ones I made were most closely based on this delightful recipe from A Cozy Kitchen. I did decide I wanted to top mine with crystallized ginger, not turbinado sugar – but not so much ginger that you couldn’t taste the sweetly bitter, earthy flavor of the tea. I think I got a good ratio. I also used more almonds (about 1/2 C), and more tea powder (~3 tsp) than called for in A Cozy Kitchen’s recipe.

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Oh, and I also made five batches at once. Ha.

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I loved the texture on these, because they were hard enough to soften deliciously dunked in a cup of tea, but weren’t absolutely rock hard. Plus, from what I’ve seen, it appears that they arrived safely where I sent them! They were  mailed to Nora (naturally), as well as: Deb from Cooking on the Front Burner, Becky from The Cookie Rookie, and Tammy from Yours And Mine Are Ours.

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I received four absolutely beautiful packages of cookies this year. Nora and I always send each other a batch of our FBCS cookies along with the rest of our Christmas gifts. Nora’s cookies are always adorably packaged, and came in a little cardboard box with candy-striped twine this year. What a treat! You can read all about Nora’s delish pistachio/cranberry cookies on her related Portland 2014 Cookie Swap post.

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Katie of Butterlust sent me her mom’s Coconut Gingeroons. These puppies were so good! I love coconut anything, and the texture of these were lovely. Katie’s blog is a delight to peruse, if you have some free time. Katie, thank you so much!

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Laurie of Baking Adventures in a Messy Kitchen sent me these amazing coconut, cinnamon, and orchidea chip cookies! I learned that orchidea chips are sichuan pepper, lime, and orchid root. These cookies had a spicy, sweet, and perfectly salty flavor. Plus, my roommates were way wowed by the exotic theme! Thanks, Laurie.

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Trudy of Chocolate Castles sent me delicious shortbread cookies dipped in white chocolate! She even included a little thumbprint tool for thumbprint cookies – she says you can buy them on Etsy if you want one for yourself! Trudy, thank you.

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All in all, I lucked out this year, I think. Can’t wait for 2015!

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Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Denver

11 Dec

Nora found The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap last month, and she knew that it would be perfect for Cats and Commas. First, it meant that we were officially declaring ourselves “food bloggers”, which is neat. Also, who doesn’t like cookies?  The idea is simple: we each signed up, as did a ton of other food-blog folk, and Lindsay and Julie would match us to three other bloggers. Nora and I would each pick a cookie recipe (of our own design or adaptation), make three dozen cookies, and send one dozen to each of the names that Lindsay and Julie gave us. Meanwhile, other bloggers would be given our names, and we’d receive three different kinds of cookie. How perfect is that? I’m excited to see what kind of cookies Nora made – we haven’t yet told each other which recipes we used.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experiment was that cookies are delicious. The second-most valuable thing I learned is that Nora and I are scrubs for using blogspot.  Everyone’s blogs are so beautiful and professional! I was very impressed. (We wanted a wordpress blog, but found that we couldn’t get one set up for both of us to post on. If anyone has some advice about this (and also about how to switch the posts we have here onto the hypothetical wordpress), we’d be obliged.)

The first batch of cookies that I received were from Veronica of www.veronicascornucopia.com.  Her cookies were peanut-buttery tasting with mini-snickers baked inside each one. They were chewy, which is how I love cookies, and salty and sweet.  Veronica’s batch came with a sweet postcard, too.

The second batch I got were Dad’s Famous Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies from Julie M. of www.burntcarrots.com. These were exactly what the name suggests they are: buttery and awesome. They actually reminded me a lot of the chocolate chip cookies that my mom makes, but I love butterscotch chips, so what a wonderful addition.

The last batch I got were from Christian of http://cm-c.org. Her cookies were carrot cake cookies with vanilla bean icing. The texture of these babies was AMAZING, and they tasted just like their namesake. Christian’s cookies also came with a really sweet, long, handwritten note, which I thought was lovely.

The cookies that I made for the swap were Chocolate-Cranberry Biscotti. I love biscotti, and haven’t made it for like 10 years – the last time was definitely with my mom, and I must have been a middle schooler. I adapted a recipe of Miss Martha‘s, of course, because I love her.  Originally, the recipe was Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti with Chocolate Chips from the Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook. I changed some of the proportions of dry ingredients and swapped all-purpose flour to whole-wheat, took out her additives and added dried cranberries, and changed the bake times accordingly.  I tripled the below recipe to make three batches.  Recipe is as follows:

-2 C whole-wheat flour, sifted.
-1 C unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted.
-1 tsp baking soda, sifted.
-0.25 tsp salt
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
-1 cup white sugar
-2 large eggs
-1.5 C dried cranberries

1. Heat the oven to 350. Prep your cookie sheets with parchment or foil.
2. Whisk dry ingredients together. Run them, combined, through a sifter to ensure even baking-soda distribution.
3. Cream butter and sugar until it’s very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. (A trick I learned from The Simple Art of Perfect Baking is that, when adding eggs or other liquids to creamed butter/sugar, you must beat so thoroughly after each little addition. If your butter mix “curdles” after one egg, whip whip whip whip until it looks normal before adding the next egg. It makes a huge difference.) Look at how beautiful my butter-sugar-egg mixture was after a few minutes of whipping. I could seriously roll around in this.
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4. Combine butter/egg/sugar mix with sifted dry ingredients. Mix well, but don’t overdo it. Once they’re combined, add your cranberries and distribute evenly. Your dough may be a little crumbly but should stick to itself fairly well when done.
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5. Roll the dough into a ball shape and then into a log. It should be about 10 or so inches long.  Place the log on your cookie sheet, and flatten it slightly. It’ll be about 10-12 inches long and 4-5 inches wide.
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6. Bake until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. The cookies will seem fairly soft, but don’t fret! Take the log out and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
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7.  With a very sharp, serrated knife, slice the log diagonally at about 1-inch intervals. This is very crumbly, so it’s best to do it on something that will be easy to clean.
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7. Lower oven heat to 300 degrees.

8. Arrange your 1-inch-thick biscottis face-down on your cookie sheet, and return them to your oven. Bake until crisp, but still slightly soft in the center – these puppies will harden like rocks as they cool, so don’t expect them to be biscotti-hard when you test them in the oven.

9. Cool ’em on a wire rack and enjoy!
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I packed my cookies up and sent them off to Lisa of http://tequilacupcakes.com, Sara of http://thelittlebite.wordpress.com, and Anita of http://www.confessionsofafoodie.me. Everyone got a dozen biscotti and a little card, too.  I hope my cookies arrived to Lisa, Sara, and Anita in solid pieces, and that they enjoyed them!
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Happy holidays! Once Nora gets her Cookie Swap post up and running, I’ll pick the next challenge.

P.S.: Cats and Commas got a twitter! Look at how modern we are. @catsandcommas , holla!