Baked Goods, Cookies, Gift Ideas, Holidays / Entertaining

Thanksgiving Biscotti

If you’re a long time reader of this blog then you know how insistent I am that cookies should be thick and chewy. I have proclaimed it from the rooftops on countless occasions that this duo of qualities yield the only acceptable cookie and I do my best to ensure that this is how my baked goods always emerge from the oven.

Yesterday, however, I discovered that this absurd cookie snobbery had inadvertently robbed me of something so delicious, sweet, and crunchy (yes, you heard me right) that I found myself questioning my entire cookie view. What was the magical recipe that has forever changed my mind about crunchy versus chewy? It was Peggy Cullen’s outstanding Thanksgiving Biscotti from the Got Milk? Cookie Book.

My mom picked this title up for me at a yard sale years and years ago and it is the most used and thumbed through cookbook I own. It’s out of print now but you can get used copies online. Personally I think Chronicle Books should rerelease it because it’s chock full of fantastic recipes. Anyway, I’ve passed by the cornmeal and cranberry studded Thanksgiving Biscotti page many times (you know…pilgrims, Native Americans, Massachusetts la la la) and each year I think I should make a batch and then I promptly forget, but this year I actually did it.

I fully expected to not like these at all, but after that first tentative bite I dove into the plate of cookies with relish and honestly polished off four in the blink of an eye. Once I regained control I knew I had to share this treat with the world. I’m still feeling a little bowled over and can’t believe how satisfying crunchy cookies can be. I fear I’ve been really missing out… Anyway, these Thanksgiving Biscotti would be the perfect accompaniment for pre-holiday snacking (you know while your uncles are out back deep frying a turkey) or served with post dinner coffee (not everyone likes pumpkin pie after all). They would also be a lovely treat to mail home and will fare much better, being crunchy and all, then the poor chewy gingersnaps which I sent to my family on Monday.

Thanksgiving Biscotti

Originally published by Peggy Cullen in the Got Milk? Cookie Book
(Best Cookbook Ever!)

1/2 cup yellow stone-ground cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 ounces (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, or lightly grease with butter.

In a food processor, combine the cornmeal with the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Process for a few seconds to blend the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse just until mixture has an evenly gritty texture.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla. Pour them evenly over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine a few times to blend. Using a rubber spatula, scrape along the bottom of the bowl. Add the cranberries and pulse the machine a few more times, just until the dough begins to clump.

Turn the dough out onto the table. Gather it together and gently form into a disk. Using a sharp knife, divide it into two equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, form each piece into a 12-inch log. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. (Erin’s Note: I found this video very helpful when it came time to shape and slice the biscotti).

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the logs begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly on the tray, 5 to 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.

Using a spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife and a quick downward motion, cut each log crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, discarding (or eating) the ends. Use a spatula to transfer them back to the baking sheet; arrange them cut side up on the prepared sheet. (If the baking sheet is buttered, wipe off the crumbs but don’t grease again.) Bake for 10 minutes, or until the undersides of the cookies show the barest hint of color. Don’t over bake. Leave them on the baking sheet to harden and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.