Over thirty years ago, I found myself walking on frigid streets in Vienna with snow dancing all around as I found my way to a small Christmas gathering at an apartment of a close friend. Steaming cups of coffee with froth foaming brought warmth back to my body. Fresh out-o- the-oven were almond cookies that I was to taste for the first time. Being welcomed to the home of a friend when my family was thousands of miles and an ocean away, warmed my lonely heart.
Since then, gathering friends together with something warm and sweet and mugs of warm coffee or tea has always brought me heart-opening times with women all over the world. I believe God created something uniquely special to transform hearts amidst feasting and drawing close over food and drink. Now, this recipe of biscotti is one of my favorites. And I still love having friends over for that heart to heart sharing in such a way. Make time for your friends and heart-filling moments this season. Make a memory that you can visit for many years to come. And enjoy my tradition and recipe.
If there is one thing I am apprehensive to do in the kitchen, living in Colorado at an altitude of 7,500 elevation, is baking! So I try to pick things that won't fail me and leave me in tears after attempting to pour my heart and soul into butter, eggs, and sugar...
The answer: Christmas Biscotti! It works every time and also gets us in the Christmas spirit. Who doesn't like a warm cup of cocoa, tea, or coffee to dip their cookie into? Although these cookies are not your chewy, soft variety, they ARE the dipping kind!
Biscotti is a very popular Italian cookie that is baked twice to give it an extra crispy crunch! I will share our favorite Christmas Biscotti recipe with you, so that if you can relate to my baking fears, you will be able to overcome any baking hazards with this recipe!
One batch makes 2 dozen or more cookies. This is a perfect addition to your Christmas cookie tray or gift tins. We love to plop down on the couch with a warm cozy blanket, tea or cocoa in hand, and a few of these delightful cookies, while listening to a Christmas Advent or watching a favorite Christmas movie!
1/2 cup pecans (or almonds!), chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons of butter, softened
2 eggs, room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla (In Austria, I learned to love Almond flavoring--you can use that instead.)
2 teaspoons of sugar for topping / chocolate for drizzling on top / anything you can think of to make it your own!
Biscotti logs in the oven
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop nuts and place on baking sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove pecans from pan and cool. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside. In mixing bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar until creamy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla or almond extract. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in pecans. Divide dough in half and form each half into a 7x2 inch log. Lightly spray bar pan or cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place each log crosswise on sheet or pan about 4 inches apart. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 30 minutes. Remove pan to cooling rack; let logs cool in pan for 15 or more minutes until completely cool. Carefully remove logs to cutting board and using a serrated knife, gently cut logs diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Arrange slices upright in pan/cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake 20-25 minutes or until dry and crisp. Cool completely on cooling rack. *Add any special touches, like drizzled chocolate after cooled. Store in tightly covered container. Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.
Now, get out your favorite mug and make some delectable tea, coffee or cider and enjoy a few minutes of Christmas peace. Better yet, do it with a friend, your husband or even your children who are your best friends. Best moment of the day! Enjoy.