Cooking Contests / Food

Cherry Almond Chocolate Biscotti

While most preschool aged children were busy sipping milk and asking for juice, I was enjoying demitasse with my grandparents.  Not familiar with the term demitasse? It refers to strong, black coffee, much akin to espresso.  Traditionally served in petite, half-sized cups with a small twist of lemon rind, this is a high octane, seriously caffeinated hot, bitter beverage.  While I can’t understand why my grandparents allowed me, a mere youngster, to indulge in such a treat, I do treasure the times we shared at their kitchen table sipping and chatting.21e1bvhaa9lCookies were a natural part of our demitasse time.  My grandmother always, always, always seemed to have a blue tin of butter cookies on hand.  You know the ones; tight fitting lid, tin filled with two layers of paper liners, stacks of buttery cookies.  I loved them (especially the pretzel shaped cookie).

 

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My grandmother indulged in a different treat: anisette toast   Hard, dense, and not-so-sweet, these “cookies” had a very distinctive flavor, one that I was not fond of.  Anisette toast seemed better suited for adults.  Give me my butter cookies any day of the week!

 

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Thanks to my Italian heritage and my grandparents, I still have a very soft spot for nearly all things Italian…except for anisette toast!

It’s that heritage and those memories at my grandparents’ kitchen table, that were my inspiration for my first entry into the Simply Sesame Blogger Challenge sponsored by Simply Sesame.

Find our more about Simply Sesame by visiting them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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Simply Sesame is a delicious creamy spread. It is created using sesame seeds and all natural ingredients.  It is a nutrition powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Sesame seeds and sesame oil are known for their anti-oxidant properties and cholesterol and blood pressure lowering effects. No preservatives or additives are added. This product contains no trans fat and no cholesterol.  The spreads are vegan, gluten free, peanut free, and Non-GMO certified.   I received three complimentary flavors of Simply Sesame: Pure Roasted Sesame, Pistachio with a Hint of Cardamom, and the flavor featured in this recipe, Vanilla with Almond Bits.

You can order Simply Sesame directly from Amazon.  (Please note that this is NOT an affiliate link.)

Now back to my entry…I opted to create biscotti.  They are the perfect compliment to a hot cup of tea or coffee.  Biscotti are incredibly simple to make, and have an endless number of variations.  Cherries and almonds have always been a great flavor combination, so I knew that the Simply Sesame Vanilla with Almond Bits would be the perfect base for my biscotti.

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Folded into the batter are cherry juice infused cranberries, thinly sliced almonds, miniature chocolate chips, and my all-time favorite scent, almond extract.  These cookies are slightly sweet, very crunchy, and oh so flavorful.  I hope that you will give these rustic treats a try!

 

Cherry Almond Chocolate Biscotti
yields 12

1/2 cup Simply Sesame Creamy Spread, Vanilla with Almond Bit Variety
5 tablespoons butter (salted)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 vanilla beans, insides scraped, pods discarded
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup cherry juice infused dried cranberries
1 cup thinly sliced almonds
2/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon sparkling sugar (you can use granulated sugar as well)

 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a stainless steel baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the Simply Sesame, butter, and granulated sugar until combined.  Add in the almond extract, vanilla beans, and eggs.  Mix for one minute until the mixture is creamy.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Gradually mix the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just combined.

Fold in the dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and chocolate chips until combined.

Split the dough in half.  Shape each dough half into an 8″ x 4″ oval.  Place each shaped piece of dough at least three inches apart.  You may also opt to use a second baking sheet if needed.

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Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Using a sharp, serrated knife trim off 1/4″ from the short ends.  Next, slice each oval into 6 bars (cutting along the short side).  Separate each bar, leaving at least 1 inch between pieces.

Lightly brush the tops of each biscotti with heavy cream and sprinkle the tops with a tiny bit of sparkling sugar.

Return the biscotti to the oven (325 degrees) for an additional 20 minutes.

Once again remove the baking sheet from the oven.  Allow the biscotti to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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