Yesterday morning at 5:45 am I received an e-mail request to bake for a charity auction/fundraiser being held this Saturday night. You may be wondering why I was awake so early. It wasn’t on purpose. It’s just that I keep forgetting to put my blackberry on “silent” mode before I go to sleep, so the beep of an incoming message woke me. The request was from the Lanark County Therapeutic Riding Program. I immediately hit reply and said YES!! My speedy, enthusiastic (well, as enthusiastic as I can be at 5:45 am) reply was due to two reasons.
The main reason I replied yes is that my son, who has cerebral palsy, has been riding with them for over 6 years. When he began he could not even sit up on the horse. Now he is trotting. He has developed increased balance, flexibility and coordination over the years. But more importantly, he has gained a feeling of great independence and freedom as well as tremendous pride in his accomplishments. I never could have imagined a day when I would see him trotting down a country road on a horse. It is a joy to behold.
The second reason for my speedy acquiescence is that I love any excuse to bake, especially when I know the baking will be leaving my home and moving out of harm’s way (Harm in this case, being my mouth!)
I knew right away what I wanted to bake. I was planning to bake on Thursday and the event was not being held until Saturday, so it had to be something that didn’t get stale quickly. Biscotti would be the perfect thing to make. They keep well for several weeks, although they never seem to last that long around here. The inspiration for this biscotti recipe came from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine (a moment of silence here please!!). The original recipe was for cranberry biscotti dipped in white chocolate. I decided to add white chocolate chunks to the dough instead of dipping them. I also added coconut to the dough because coconut makes everything taste better! Unbeknownst to me, my sister Bonnie made the exact same changes to the recipe. We laughed when we discovered what the other had done.
Oh, and I had a third reason to be excited to bake today! I would get to try out my new Beater Blade for my Kitchenaid mixer. The company claims that this blade, “ … virtually eliminates hand-scraping the bowl and batter build-up on the blades. Ingredients are thoroughly incorporated ensuring foolproof mixing and baking preparation.” After softening the butter, I set to work creaming the butter and sugar. I was very impressed with the new blade. No scraping down was needed. I love it when a product delivers like it promises.
Then time to add the rest of the ingredients.
Biscotti is Italian for “twice baked”. First the dough is formed into logs and baked. Then the logs are sliced and put back into the oven for a second baking. This is a wonderful dough to work with, so pliable and malleable. Forming the logs is simple.
The logs are brushed with beaten eggwhite and baked for about 25 minutes. Then they cool for about an hour. I discovered that using a cleaver works really well for slicing the logs. I got an inexpensive one from Ikea. I like to slice them on the diagonal for really long biscotti. They go back into the oven for a second baking. They will be a bit soft when you remove them from the second baking but will firm up as they cool.
White Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Biscotti
Makes about 48 biscotti. These can be frozen in an airtight container for about 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
1 ½ cups good quality white chocolate chunks
1 ½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 egg white
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until well blender. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix briefly. Add cranberries, white chocolate and coconut and mix until well combined.
3. Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each piece into a log 2 ½ inches wide, 1 inch high and about 16 inches long. Transfer both logs to one prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly. Set aside second baking sheet for now. You will need it later when you slice the logs. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until foamy; brush egg white glaze on top and sides of each log.
4. Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let logs cool completely on sheet on a rack. This will take about 45 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
5. Transfer logs to cutting board. Using a serrated knife or a Chinese cleaver, cut logs on diagonal into ½ inch wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, spread out on the two baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes; turn biscotti over. Bake until just beginning to colour, about 8 minutes more. Transfer biscotti to rack to cool.