Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti

Every year as soon as my kids come home for Christmas they look to see which food gifts they want to eat first. Each of them has their favorite. Bill loves orange rolls. Daniel’s favorite is cinnamon bread, and Lindsey makes a beeline for the freezer looking for cracker candy hidden behind the frozen peas. I send food gifts too. This year I decided to make Biscotti. This isn’t your typical grocery store Biscotti. The one that could break a window! No, this Biscotti is scented with orange, crunchy like a crisp sugar cookie and topped with drizzles of white chocolate, juicy Craisins and almond slices. Packaged in clear plastic and tied with a festive ribbon, it makes a homemade gift everyone will enjoy!

     Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti
Makes around 32 pretty slices (Doc ate the ends!)

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar, granulated
1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest from one orange
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping: 4 -6 squares white chocolate bark, Craisins and sliced almonds.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment paper. Cream butter, sugar, salt vanilla and orange zest and baking powder with a mixer set on medium high speed. Add eggs. The dough will look curdled- don’t worry. Lower mixer speed to low and add flour. Mix until it all comes together, scrape sides down and mix briefly. The dough will be very sticky. Pour dough onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet in two equal portions. Get your ruler out. Using wet hands or a wet dough scraper; shape dough into 2 logs that are 9 and 1/2 inches long by 2 inches wide by 3/4 inch tall.

Bake on 350 F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately mist top and all sides of baked logs with water (I just used wet hands- Wetting the baked Biscotti softens the crust and makes it easier to slice- If you skip this step the biscotti may break apart when you slice it). Wait 5 minutes. Using a pizza cutter slice the Biscotti into 1/2 inch wide slices. Separate the slices, leaving a 1 inch space between each slice. Return to oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes more.  The Biscotti will just begin to turn brown on the edges and feel almost dry (the slices will continue to dry while cooling). Cool completely.

To decorate: Turn all biscotti on its side; Decorating surface upward. Melt 3 squares of white chocolate bark according to package directions. Drizzle Biscotti with white chocolate.  Immediately sprinkle with Craisins and almond slices. Melt 2 more blocks of white chocolate bark. Lightly drizzle the Craisins and almond slices using the white chocolate like you would use glue to stick the toppings to the Biscotti.  Tip: If you love almond flavor add ¼ teaspoon almond flavoring to the dough.

Published in The News and Neighbor on December 7, 2013

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