Here's another treat that makes a great gift for long-distance friends and family because it ships well. Biscotti are firm, crunchy cookies that are usually enjoyed with hot coffee or tea because their finger-like shape makes them perfect for dipping.
I recently developed a base recipe for biscotti that can be endlessly varied. This zesty orange version is my favorite so far. I've always loved the magic worked by cranberry and orange together, and the crunchy crystal sugar topping puts these head and shoulders above my favorite store-bought version.

The dough will look a bit ragged at first, and may be slightly sticky. Dust your hands with flour before you roll it into 12-inch batons.

You'll flatten the dough with your hands to about 3-inches in width. Just before baking, the loaves are brushed with milk and then generously topped with crystal sugar. After they are baked, use a large sharp chef's knife to cut them into pieces. Trust me - large and sharp is the type of knife to use because the chewy dried cranberries will be resistant to a dull knife blade.

Biscotti means 'twice cooked'. After the loaves are cooled and cut, you'll place them on a baking sheet and bake them again for another 10 minutes. I think they are perfect after this second bake, but if you like your biscotti extra-crunchy (as most grocery store versions are) you can flip the cookies over and bake them for another 10 minutes.

I've already given these to friends and family with rave reviews. They are unassuming at first; a modest treat that turns into breakfast every morning for a week straight.
I'll admit to hurriedly shoving them into tall cellophane bags with twist-ties before rushing out the door to meet dinner companions (not the best presentation). If you have more time to package these, consider bagging them first in cellophane and then placing them in pretty patterned holiday gift boxes (like these!).

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Yields 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon orange extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons milk
1/4 cup crystal sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until lightened. Add the eggs one at a time and stir in the orange zest and extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour baking powder and salt; whisk to combine. Add to butter mixture and mix well. Fold in cranberries.

Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece between your palms to 12-inches long. Dust hands with flour if the dough wants to stick to your hands. Pat each dough piece down flat to about 3-inches width. Brush each piece with milk and sprinkle with crystal sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned around the edges and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes on the pan.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Cut each piece of dough into twelve 1-inch slices with a large chef’s knife. Place the slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. For extra-crisp biscotti, flip cookies and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Package a 6 pieces each in four cellophane bags for gift giving.

Courtesy: Sprinkle Bakes


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