July 18, 2011

Sparkle Cookies & Almond Biscotti

Well, first of all, I’d like to apologise for not posting since Easter....EASTER!!!
A lot has been going on and i kind of lost my baking motivation. Firstly, our beautiful cockatiel Dennis decided he wanted to escape and flew away one Friday morning. Obviously we were and still are devastated. I think this sparked my de-motivation. Then we decided to buy an apartment, that then fell through and added to our already crappy month of May. But we got another, better, apartment and finally things are starting to look up. This one has a spa and a big balcony Toulouse can take dumps on.
I’ve baked only twice since Easter. The first was…well...a first! I’ve always wanted to bake Biscotti but found it a bit daunting really. I guess i decided getting back on the baking band wagon should start with something new and challenging.
The second recipe is one I’ve altered and made my own. I officially dub thee Sparkle Cookies. Look, just make them and bloody eat them. Trust me, you’re gonna love ‘em.

Almond biscotti

1 cup (145g) blanched whole almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
¾ (150g) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.
Reduce oven temperature to 150 degrees C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs and extracts together,.
In the bowl of your electric mixture (or hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until blended (about 30 secs). Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms, adding almonds about halfway through. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a log about 35cms long and 8-10cms wide. Transfer log to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-40mins or until firm to the tough (log will spread during baking).  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10mins.
Transfer log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut log into slices (1.25cms) thick on the diagonal. Arrange evenly on baking sheet. Bake 10 mins, turn slices over and bake another 10mins or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Note: can substitute hazelnuts or walnujts for the almonds. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of orange or lemon zest to the egg mixture.
Makes 28 biscotti.

Sparkle Cookies
2 ¼ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
160g softened buter
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup soft brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips – ½ dark, ½ milk
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Sift together flour, bicarb and salt.
In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugars and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in eggs
Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Roll big teaspoons of dough onto baking papered baking trays, leaving plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Makes 20 or so.