Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gingerbread Biscotti

From, submitted by Cristina Gomez.

Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes
Yields: 48 servings
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbs. ground ginger
3/4 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tbs. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, and molasses. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a roll the length of the cookie. Place rolls on cookie sheet and pat down to flatten the dough to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to touch, cut into 1/2-inch thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet and bake an additional 5-7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.

- I tend to cut my biscotti in half because they always come out really long.
- Dipping or drizzling the biscotti with melted white chocolate adds a really nice touch.
- The dough is REALLY sticky, so it helps to use floured hands and a floured surface to shape it. (I use part flour, part powdered sugar.)

Layered Peppermint Bark

From, submitted by Carol.

Prep: 30 minutes, Ready in: 1 1/2 hours
Makes: 32 servings
20 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
30 peppermint candies, crushed, divided
10 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 Tbs. heavy cream
1 tsp. peppermint extract

Line a 9x12" baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Melt half of the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a spatula to avoid scorching. Spread the white chocolate into the prepared pan Sprinkle 1/2 of the crushed peppermints evenly over the white chocolate. Chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate, heavy cream, and peppermint extract together in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently, until just melted. Quickly pour the chocolate layer over the chilled white chocolate layer; spread evenly. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently, until just melted. Spread quickly over the chilled bark. Sprinkle with the remaining peppermint pieces; chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Cut or break into small pieces to serve.

- Using a 9x12" pan produces very thick "bark," so I will likely use a jelly roll pan next time instead.
- I used two bags of white chocolate chips, which was closer to 24 ounces instead of 20.
- If you don't have two double boilers (by a fluke, I do), you can melt the white chocolate in the microwave (in two batches). Start with a minute at 50% power, and then add 15 seconds until the chocolate is smooth when stirred. You can also make a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over a pot with a little of simmering water.
- Be very careful (and quick) when spreading the final layer of white chocolate. The dark chocolate will never completely set up, so it's easy to end up swirling it into the white.
- Don't get any water into your melting chocolate! It will cause big problems. (If you do, add a little oil or shortening to help fix things.)

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Squares

From Hershey's Made Simple, page 22.

Makes 3 dozen squares.
4 cups (two 11.5-ounce packages) chocolate chips
1 cup Heath Bits 'o Brickle toffee bits
1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 cup halved pretzel sticks
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread, or oil)
Paper candy cups (optional)

Line 9-inch square pan with plastic wrap. Place chocolate chips in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Immediately add toffee bits, peanuts, pretzels, and coconut, if desired; stir to coat.

Spread mixture in prepared pan; cover with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until firm.

Place white chips and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Using a fork, drizzle white chips mixture over chocolate mixture in pan. Cover; refrigerate 5 minutes or until firm.

Bring to room temperature. Remove chocolate mixture from pan and place right-side up on cutting board; remove plastic wrap. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares. Place each square in a candy cup, if desired. Store in covered container in a cool place.

Variation: Chocolate Toffee Haystacks
Prepare mixture as above. Instead of spreading into square pan, drop chocolate mixture by slightly heaping tablespoons onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet or tray. Refrigerate until firm. Melt white chips as directed above; drizzle over haystacks.

- I made my squares in an 8x8" pan. (Who owns a 9x9" anyway?)
- My squares were smaller than 1 1/2 inches, so I probably got closer to 4 dozen candies.
- I like to use one bag of milk chocolate and one bag of semi-sweet chips.

Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies

From Hershey's Made Simple, page 12.

Makes about 36 brownies.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/4 creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cups (10-ounce package) peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate syrup (milk or dark)

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 9x13" baking pan.

Beat butter and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Spread half of batter in prepared pan; spoon syrup over top. Carefully spread with remaining batter; swirl with metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

- I use dark brown sugar--I prefer it over light.
- This recipe needs more chocolate. Next time I make it, I'm going to add chocolate chips along with the peanut butter chips.
- These keep very well if stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
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