Monday, December 16, 2013

Warm Gooshy Christmas Feelings (and Biscotti)

I've had a rough time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Maybe it's the lack of snow or the fact that I got the awesome surprise of having to dish out nearly $1000 to fix my car the other day. Mostly my holiday blahs stems from the realization that my family is in a weird mental state this year because my niece being sick and she has to live in Vancouver for the next few months for treatment. We're all kind of scattered around the province this year for the holidays and I suppose it has kind of thrown me off kilter. The out-pour of love and support from the community directed towards my family has been truly overwhelming and I know that I should be feeling joyous and wrapped in warm gooshy feelings of uplifting holiday spirit...but it's been difficult!

I will admit though that the giggly Christmas mood has been creeping in the past couple of days, which has been a tremendous relief! I was afraid that the holidays were going to sweep on by without infiltrating my apathetic state of mind. The other day while doing random tasks around the house, I put on The Nightmare Before Christmas and A Muppet Christmas Carol (which always makes me giggle like a kid). Those were the first to crack my shell. Then I decided to start my gifts for my coworkers, so I got to work baking a couple batches of biscotti (orange chocolate crystallized ginger biscotti which rock my world) and watched The Holiday while I baked. That definitely made the shell splinter open.

Today I even was humming Christmas carols which was definitely a sign that my soul has not charred up and flaked away.

And just now, I put on John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas album. Yep. Christmas can officially start now. This album is so what I needed to break into the Christmas spirit! I am having a personal revelation at this very moment. Aren't you so lucky to get to share it with me?

I am planning to spend Christmas with my niece, sister and brother-in-law which will be awesome. Spending Christmas with a 5 year old (or any child who still has that innocence of the holidays) is always the absolute best way to spend December 25th. The magic of watching them open their gifts, especially ones from the magical Santa Claus, is just the best. Unfortunately I only have the 24th and 25th off from work so it will be a super quick trip. Had I known in advance that I would be in Vancouver for those days then I would have taken an extra day or 2 to spend with my family, but I guess I'll just have to take what I can get and enjoy my time with them to the fullest extent possible.

Because my biscotti turned out so frickin delicious, I decided to put up the recipe for your enjoyment! Just like previous recipes on this site, this recipe was kind of created by looking at several biscotti recipe examples and I just created one recipe based on what I saw and the ingredients that I wanted to use. But they are delicious so I highly recommend making them.

Orange Chocolate Crystallized Ginger Biscotti 
- 1/4 cup butter, salted butter (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp grated and minced orange peel
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs, vanilla and orange peel and beat until combined. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture, toss in the chocolate chips and ginger and stir until the mixture just comes together.

Oh yeah, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack at the very top.

Can you tell I'm writing this out purely from memory?

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the dough onto the counter and roll into a log (about 14 inches long and 5 inches wide).  Lift onto the baking sheet and flatten out the log to about 1 1/2 inches thick. It does not need to look perfect. Perfect is boring.

Biscotti Trick! When your log is all flattened out and on the baking sheet, make indents on both sides of the log so that the ends cave inwards (like a finger trap). This is an awesome trick because when the dough bakes, it will not expand outwa
rds so much and there will be less waste when you go to cut the logs later. 

Alright, back to the recipe. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the dough is just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 2 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Lift the log onto a cutting board and slice into 3/4 - 1 inch slices. Put the cookies back onto the baking sheet and lay them on their side. Bake for 8 minutes, flip each cookie to the other side and bake another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn off the oven and wait about 10 minutes. Once the oven has cooled down a bit, place them back in the oven and leave in the cooled oven overnight. This will allow them to dry out perfectly.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy at your leisure!

My homemade gifts for the lovely ladies at work.
Luckily (hopefully) none of them read this site. 

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