So….. you guys full yet?
Pretty sure I’ve been stuffing myself silly for the last week, with no real end in sight. New year, new me? Nahh… I think I’ll just keep eating.
The thing about the holidays this year is that most normal Christmas desserts are no longer an option for me. Chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread men, thumbprint cookies, russian tea cakes, sugar cookies, my mother-in-law’s incredible chocolate pecan pie…. nope, allllll off limits from now on.
On one hand, going gluten-free means missing out on all the best food — especially during the holidays. Think of your favorite pumpkin pie baked only at Thanksgiving or the six billion different kinds of of cookies made each Christmas. Unfortunately, I have to give it all a hard pass going forward — unless I want to spend the rest of the year dying slowly from the hurricane-strength storm happening inside my body.
…which miiiight be worth it, given how delicious all those goodies are.
But on the OTHER hand, this just means that I can’t over-indulge in sweets like I normally would — so perhaps it’s actually a blessing in disguise?!
Call it what you will, one my favorite things to make each Christmas is biscotti — even if I can no longer enjoy it myself. Every year I choose a few different types to bake and give as gifts, along with two or three of my usual Christmas cookies.
This tradition started many moons ago when my bff / favorite lifeguard, Jodi, and I worked together. It was our first job out of college and we were obviously rockstars there — so much so that we found ourselves with loooots of down time in between deadlines (…or something like that). We used all our free time to catch each other up on our social lives and daily struggles, find new recipes to make and shop online (we were/are REAL good at finding great deals). The first biscotti recipe we came across was this cranberry pecan biscotti by Todd English — it became an instant favorite and now makes its way into the rotation almost every year (not to mention, it also sparked my obsession with cardamom!). We continue searching for and experimenting with new biscotti recipes each year and, I must admit, it’s become one of my favorite Christmas traditions.
That said, I can’t bear to end this tradition on account of my own silly food sensitivities. I actually have some friends and family members that look forward to my annual biscotti/cookie baking, so I don’t want to disappoint the few fans I have!
I actually found a few GF biscotti that I was hoping to test out this year in addition to the usual recipes, but ran out of time (shocking, I know). So instead I stuck with my two favorites — almond and oreo.
In case you’ve never heard of biscotti, here’s a (very) brief etymology lesson for you: biscotti is the plural form of biscotto and stems from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked.” I’ve never fully understood this, since every biscotti recipe I’ve seen calls for baking them at least three times in total… so maybe the “twice baked” refers to the two times you bake them after the initial bake? Who knows. But regardless of the number of bakes, biscotti are meant to be dry, crunchy and store well for long periods of time, which I’m sure had some historical purpose.
For those of you who have never tried biscotti, this is a great recipe to start with! And for the well-seasoned biscotti veteran, these are still a keeper. Deliciously simple with hints of almond, orange and vanilla, it’s a perfect recipe to add to your repertoire. In my opinion, biscotti are delicious on their own — but even better when dunked into a warm mug of coffee or hot chocolate.
I typically make my biscotti logs pretty thick, so the cookies end up long and thin. My grandmother makes a more traditional recipe, and forms her biscotti logs so the cookies are much shorter and slightly thicker. Neither way is right nor wrong — instead, I think it’s more of a preference. Also, since I have a few years worth of biscotti-making experience under my belt at this point, I’ve included a few tips and tricks within the recipe below on how to best form and bake your biscotti logs.
- 1¾ cup white whole wheat or all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon orange zest (from one small orange)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 10 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (grand marnier, cointreau, triple sec)
- ½ cup sliced almonds or whole almonds, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line one large or two small cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Add eggs, sugar, melted butter, vanilla and orange liqueur to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium-low until combined.
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest in a small bowl. Add to wet ingredients in stand mixture and turn on low until a dough has started to form. Remove from stand mixer and, using your hands, knead in the almonds.
- Divide dough into two equal parts. One at a time, roll into a ball and then form into shape of a log roughly 4½ by 13 inches (see photos within blog post).
- Bake each log 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 15 minutes and then transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice on the diagonal roughly ½ inch thick.
- Place back on cookie sheet(s) cut side down and bake an additional 10-12 minutes. Flip to other side and bake for 5 more minutes, if needed.
- To shape the biscotti log, first form each half of the dough into a ball, then roll out into a log. Place on the cookie sheet to flatten with hands and shape.
- Be sure to square off the edges of the biscotti log so that the ends aren't too small and can be cut evenly.
- If you don't have a large enough cookie sheet to fit both biscotti logs, you can use two small cookies sheets instead. If you can't fit them both in the oven at the same time, simply bake one after the other, noting that it does increase the overall baking time for the recipe. For example, bake the first half of the dough and, while it cools, put the second half in to bake. Then slice the first half of the dough and put it back in the oven while the second half cools, etc.
- If the first two bakes produce biscotti that are already a dark golden brown, feel free to omit the final bake, to avoid burning.
Recipe from: Almond Biscotti | Smitten Kitchen
Maybe next year I’ll get around to sharing the oreo biscotti recipe with you guys — and perhaps even before Christmas! But don’t hold your breath… I’m not quite sure 2018 is going to be the year I get my shit together.
In any case, wishing you all a happy, healthy & delicious(ly gluten-full) New Year!