Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

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Cranberry and Almond Breakfast Wreath

January 11, 2010

When I saw this recipe for a Christmas Breakfast Wreath, I knew I had to make it. It had almonds and it had cranberries, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this once. The recipe also included cardamon, which got me very excited since I have had cardamon seeds lying in my kitchen, unused since I could remember. I’ve only ever had cardamon in tea at my friend Sahar’s place. I learned from her that it is a popular spice used in Iran.

The recipe calls for cardamon powder, which I can only assume is finely ground cardamon seeds. Since I don’t have a spice grinder, I just used my coffee grinder, which I rarely use for grinding coffee any way. I am more of a tea drinker. I probably didn’t grind the cardamon finely enough, but I hope it didn’t make much of a different.

The wreath was quite easy to make and it was absolutely delicious. I cut down the cardamon to half a teaspoon and it was still plenty. Unfortunately my wreath became more of a ball, so if I were to do this one again, I would make sure to stretch out the dough much more before folding the strips.

Cranberry and Almond Breakfast Wreath

For the dough
2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees F/40 degrees C)
1/2 cup of warm milk
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of cardamon powder (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
3 1/2 cups of AP flour

For the filling
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup AP flour
3/4 cup  chopped almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 teaspoon  of almond extract

1. In a bowl dissolve the yeast in the water and let it rest for a few minutes.
2. In another bowl, combine the milk, sugar, butter, salt, cardamom, eggs and lemon zest and yeast.
3. Begin to add flour, one cup at a time, while mixing all of the ingredients.
4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes.
5. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until double in size (about 2 hours).
6. In a separate bowl, combine cranberries, almonds, flour, butter, zest, sugar and almond extract. Refrigerate this mixture until your dough has finished doubling.
7.  When the dough has finished rising, punch down on a floured surface. Roll out into a 9 x 30 inch rectangle.
8. Spread the almond and cranberry filling onto the dough.
9. Begin to tightly roll the dough, making sure that the sides are sealed.
10. Cut the roll in two, making sure that the strips remain long.
11. Twist the strips around each other and form into a wreath.
12. Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and let rise for another 40 minutes.
13. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.
14. Place onto middle rack of the oven and bake approximately 30 minutes until browned.

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Biscotti!

November 21, 2009

I really don’t think there’s anything bad to say about about biscotti… unless you have fragile teeth. But even then, you can make your biscotti soft. The crunch, flavour, versatility and simplicity of biscotti are irresistible to me. It is also one of those cookies that I firmly believe tastes just as good, if not better, without any butter added. Once you add butter, the cookie changes into something more decadent than a biscotti should be. I don’t always want decadent.

I have tried many kinds of biscotti, but I keep returning to the classic almond biscotti, which I think is best. I also wanted to make a chocolate version, as I was sure that my brothers would favour those. Sure enough, those were gone in half a day. Usually chocolate biscotti recipes use hazelnuts, but I just stuck with almonds.

Almonds are toasted, dry ingredients are ready to be mixed

Wet ingredients about to be mixed with the dry ingredients

Dry ingredients for the cocoa almond biscotti.

The cocoa almond biscotti about to be put into the oven.

Almond biscotti cooling after first baking.

Almond biscotti about to be put in the oven for second baking.

The recipe I used is very loosely based on the one in Baking with Julia. I halved the recipe to make the regular, then chocolate version, but next time I’ll just stick to making whole batches. I hear biscotti keeps well, but I will never know since they’re always gone before I get a chance to see for myself.

Almond Biscotti

– 3/4 cup of whole almonds
– 1 1/4  cups of AP flour (I used 1 cup, and found it was a tad too little)
– 1 large egg
– 1 egg yolk
– 1/2 cup of sugar
– 1 tsp of orange zest (next time I will use 2 tsp)
– 1 tsp of baking powder
– 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
– pinch of salt

Cocoa Almond Biscotti

– 3/4 cup of whole almonds
– 1 cup of AP flour
– 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
– 1 large egg
– 1 egg yolk
– 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
– 1 tsp of baking powder
– pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (380 F).
2. Spread almonds onto a cookie sheet and toast in oven for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. Mix dry ingredients (almonds, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa if using) in a bowl and set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients well (eggs and flavouring).
5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and begin mixing with a spoon or spatula. Once the ingredients have begun to integrate, use hands to knead the dough. The dough may seem dry at first, but once everything is integrated, it will become a bit sticky.
6. Using your hands, roll out the dough into a log to about 25cmx7cm (11×3 inches) and transfer onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. If you prefer “skinnier” and longer biscotti, flatten the log with your hands.
7. Place the dough in the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 30 minutes. The baking time will vary depending on the shape of your dough. Flatter biscotti will bake a bit faster. It will be ready when you see the edges of the log begin to brown. It is, however, better to over bake a bit than to under bake and have raw dough.
8. Remove log from the oven, place onto a cooling rack and leave until cool. This should take at least 30 minutes.
9. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into pieces approximately 2 cm (1 inch) thick on a diagonal slant. Place the biscotti back onto the baking sheet on their side.
10. Reduce oven temperature to about 160 degrees C (350 degrees F) and bake biscotti for another 15 minutes.
11. If you would like even crunchier biscotti, flip the cookies onto their other side and bake for another 10 minutes.
12. Remove, let cool and enjoy! If the biscotti is still a bit soft, leave them out overnight before putting them in a container.