There’s a lot going on in the month of December! Party planning, holiday shopping, home decorating and cookie baking! Other than keeping my biscotti jar filled throughout the year, I’m not often baking sweets. Except for the holiday season, my Italian Christmas Cookie Tray and this year, my participation in Cookielove!
To kick off the cookie baking, my first batch of cookies filled two purposes, my biscotti jar and a baking request for a cookie swap party. The “invited guest” does not like to bake so she asked that I bake her 6 dozen cookies. When I bake for others I never experiment relying on my tried and true favorites. And, as those that know me, biscotti are my favorite.
I also wanted her to bring something different that others may be baking. She’s Italian and I thought of the pignoli cookies to which transformed to the pignoli biscotti! Half dipped in white chocolate for a little extra touch and taste tested by coworkers for unanimous thumbs up! Olive oil infused with lemon peel adds a gentle lemon taste and the cornmeal mixed in the flour adds a nice crisp texture.
2 cups whole wheat/white flour or unbleached all purpose white flour
¼ cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon lemon oil *
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup good quality white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place pine nuts on baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, watching carefully to toast, not burn the nuts. Remove and let cool. Maintain oven temperature.
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs, lemon juice, zest and lemon oil and beat on low speed to combine. Remove the bow and stir in the pine nuts. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead. Divide dough into two parts and shape into two logs, about 12 – 14 inches long. Place the logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment or Slipat. Brush with egg white. Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 10-16 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Place logs on a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut diagonal slices, about ½ inch thick. Place the slices upright on the baking sheet and return to the oven to bake an additional 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the chocolate by combing the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler. Melt gently, stirring often. Dip one side of the biscotti into the chocolate. Return to the wire rack to set. Store biscotti in containers for up to one month. Makes about 30 biscotti.
*To make the lemon oil: Combine the zest from 1-2 lemons with ½ cup extra virgin olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Gently warm the oil allowing the lemon to infuse into the oil. Remove and allow to cool. Store in a sealed jar for up to a week. I use lemon oil for many dishes that I’d like to add a slightly lemony taste, as in sautéing fish, in vinaigrette or drizzled on veggies.
Please join in on the #cookielove fun by linking up any cookie recipe from the month of December 2011. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #cookielove event! The twitter hashtag is #cookielove :).
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.