A couple of weeks ago, I made a quick bread featuring cranberries and oranges ("Remembering Mom"), one of my fave flavor profiles of the holiday season. Today, we're going to use that same combo in a biscotti recipe fit for the holiday cookie exchange - Cranberry Orange Biscotti.
Before we get to the recipe, here's a word about biscotti - easy. Don't let the Italian name fool you. Biscotti are simple cookies that come together quickly. They just require a bit of time because they are baked twice. Okay, let's get cracking.
Here's what you will need for this recipe: salted butter, granulated sugar, salt, orange zest and orange juice, Fiori di Sicilia, baking powder, eggs, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, ground cloves, grated nutmeg and dried cranberries. I know what your asking - what is Fiori di Sicilia? Fiori di Sicilia is a divine flavoring sold by King Arthur Flour. It is an aromatic combination of orange and vanilla flavors reminiscent of dreamsicles - those frozen orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream bars. I use it when I want to boost the orange flavor in baked goods. If you don't have Fiori di Sicilia in your pantry, don't worry. Use your vanilla extract in its place.
While your oven is preheating to 350 degrees, combine 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg in a bowl with a whisk and set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together 6 tablespoons of salted butter, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the zest of one large or two medium oranges, 1 teaspoon of Fiori di Sicilia (or vanilla) and 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. Once this mixture is smooth and creamy, beat in two large eggs and 2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice (the juice from one half of the orange you zested should do it). Your mixture might look curdled at this point but don't worry about that. It is okay. Once you have beaten in the eggs and orange juice, reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour. Add in 3/4 cup of dried cranberries and stir to combine evenly. That's it. Your dough is done.
Place all of the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and smooth it into a log about 13 inches long, 3 to 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. This is best accomplished using a wet spatula, dough scraper or fingers. Once the dough has been shaped, slide it into your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. The dough will really expand thanks to the baking powder. That's a good thing.
After 25 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookie log to cool on the pan for about 20 minutes. Don't try to remove the cookie log from the pan; just leave it there. While the cookie log cools, reduce the temperature in the oven to 325 degrees for the second bake.
After the cookie log has cooled for 20 minutes, gently spray the log with water and let sit for another 5 minutes. Why do you do this? It's a trick I picked up from my favorite baking blogger, P.J. Hamel of King Arthur Flour. Spraying the cookie log just this little bit with water softens the crust and makes it easier to slice the log into the individual biscotti.
Using a large serrated knife, slice the cookie log into 1/2 inch slices. You want to be sure to cut straight down with the knife so that the slices are even from top to bottom. This allows the biscotti to stand up straight and even during the second bake. Set the biscotti on edge on the baking sheet and return the sheet to the oven. Bake your biscotti for 20 to 30 minutes more until they reach your desired degree of doneness. They biscotti should feel dry to the touch. I prefer my biscotti to be a little softer so I bake for the shorter amount of time. If you prefer a harder biscotti, bake them longer. It is up to you.
Once the biscotti are done, remove them from the oven and cool them on a rack. These biscotti are delicious with a cup of orange spice tea! Enjoy!
Finally, a word about next week's post. Since Christmas falls on Friday, I will be posting a day early on Christmas Eve. When you see what I have in store for you, you will know why! Have a great week, dear friends!