This year I have decided to surprise Santa with something a little different.
GINGER BISCOTTI AND GINGER BRANDY
Let’s start with the “cookies”. This recipe came together very easily. It’s a basic biscotti, but is embellished with beautiful spices, in this case primarily ginger. Biscotti originated in the Tuscan city of Prato and are traditionally flavored with almond. They are twice baked so super crunchy, one of the things I love best about this classic Italian biscuit. I also like the fact that they are not too sweet. In Italy you might dunk your biscotti in a sweet glass of Vin Santo. This Christmas Santa may dunk his in a sweet glass of ginger brandy. I found the recipe on the King Arthur Flour site. If you are a fan of ginger, you will love these biscotti’s!
6 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups flour (Of course this recipe calls for King Arthur, but that’s the brand I usually use anyway!)
1 cup finely diced crystallized ginger (Dicing this is quite tedious, but I thought it should be done by hand since the crystallized ginger is so sticky. I assembled all the ingredients and diced the ginger the day before I put the biscotti together.)
|Here are the biscotti’s all formed
and ready to go in to first bake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper one large baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs. The batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed, add the flour and crystalized ginger, mixing until smooth. The dough will be quite soft and sticky, but should hold its shape when you drop it from a spoon.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and shape it into either one large log-about 14″ long by 2 1/2″ wide and 3/4″ thick. I shaped into two logs (same width and thickness), but thought they would be easier to manage if they were smaller. Using your wet fingers, smooth the top and sides of the log.
Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on the pan from 5 to 25 minutes. I let them cool for about 20 minutes. Using a spray bottle filled with room temperature water, lightly, but thoroughly spritz the log, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit makes slicing the biscotti easier.
Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees.
Wait another 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut the log into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Cut at a 45 degree angle for longer biscotti or cut straight for shorter biscotti.
Set the biscotti on edge on the same prepared baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes until they feel very dry. They’ll still feel a tiny bit moist in the center, if you break off a piece, but they’ll continue to dry out as they cool.
Remove from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container to preserve their texture. If the biscotti are not as crunchy as you’d like, keep on the rack uncovered, overnight to continue drying. That is what I did and froze them next morning. They can be stored at room temperature for a week, or longer if you freeze.
NEXT, THE BRANDY…I THINK SANTA WILL BE VERY HAPPY THIS YEAR!
Ginger Brandy can be made either with brandy or vodka. I did quite a bit of research and combined a few recipes to come up with this.
1 750 ml bottle vodka (I used Smirnoff 80 proof.)
1 1/3 vanilla bean, split
Zest of one large orange
1 cup fresh ginger root, I grated some and then sliced the rest thinly
Simple syrup, recipe follows
Mix all these ingredients together in a large jar. Store in a cool, dry, dark place and shake a couple times a day. On the 4th day add sugar syrup.
I wanted to darken the color of the Ginger Brandy so started the simple syrup by placing 2 cups of white sugar in a large, dry saucepan over a medium high heat. Wait for the sugar to begin to melt and deepen in color. Carefully (it will spit up) add 3 cups of water. Reduce heat and stir until the crystalized sugar is dissolved. I added about 2 1/2 cups of the simple syrup to the Ginger Brandy, tasting as I went, to make sure it didn’t get too sweet.
Continue storing the brandy for another couple of days and then strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the larger ingredients and strain again using coffee filters. Let it sit another couple of days to
mellow. Very gingery. Not too much alcohol-about 40 proof and perfect sipping for a cold winter evening.
CHRISTMAS IS 10 DAYS AWAY!
I want to share our Christmas menu with you. As with Thanksgiving, I will prepare a feast for two!
💚GENEROUSLY STUFFED CRAB MUSHROOMS
🍤RICH, SPICY SHRIMP BISQUE
🎀JUICY TENDERLOIN OF BEEF GRILLED OVER MESQUITE FIRE, SERVED WITH FRENCH BERNAISE
💝CLASSIC GREEN BEANS ALMONDINE
🎄CREAMY, PARMESAN GARLIC MASHED POTATO
🎅EGGNOG CHEESE CAKE
I will also make a batch of Peppermint Stick Ice Cream as it is my husband, Jerry’s favorite, but we may not eat that on Christmas Day. I think we’ll have enough food for 2 as it is!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!
MUCH LOVE DURING DIFFICULT TIMES!
STAY SAFE, HEALTHY, AND ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL HOLIDAY IN NEW AND DIFFERENT WAYS.
|The top tablecloth has been part of our Christmas tradition for my whole life!
My Mom used to cover a card table that she placed in the corner of our dining room
and then filled with pies and desserts! It was known as the dessert table.
I made the holly-leaf tablecloth on the bottom for my Mom about 30 years ago.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…