Holiday Cookie Exchange

18Dec08

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As I write this, it’s 3:58 AM and I’m sitting in Newark Airport waiting to check in for my 6 AM flight to LA. I took the share shuttle here. This might be the untapped resource for meeting single people. Unless you take the 2:30 AM van. Because you know that anyone who chooses to fly red eye AND share a van to the airport is either a.) incredibly stingy (or as Suzy Orman tells me, “building a better future, one money saving step at a time”), b.) a very difficult human being (check), or c.) an insomniac that finds the combination of Double Crunch Gorditas and being the first 100 to snag Suzanne Summer’s winter pants collection on QVC a good night.

Note to self: Stop taking Suzie Orman seriously.

Last Sunday, in honor of the holiday season, my supper club decided to do a holiday cookie exchange instead of our typical themed potluck style dinner. Thinking ahead, I figured we’d have more than enough sugar to go around the table so I opted to make biscotti. Unsatisfied with most of the recipes I found, I used a basic biscotti dough recipe from my ever-reliable “Joy of Cooking” cookbook (a 2007 holiday gift from Party Pete-thx!) and “switched it up a bit.”

I’ve been on a banana kick these past few months, so I thought it would be fun to incorporate the ingredients of banana bread with the texture of biscotti. I made a banana chip-cashew praline to add another layer of crunch to the biscotti. To make the praline, just simmer 1 part water to 2 parts sugar in a saucepan until your candy thermometer reads 360 degrees, or until it turns into a medium brown caramel color.  Throw in unsalted banana chips and cashews and pour mixture onto parchment paper and let cool down.

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Once praline is cool to the touch, break apart into bite sized pieces.  Put aside 1/3 of the praline for later use.

For the dough,I substituted some of the egg with mashed bananas. Once you make your dough, form into logs on your baking sheet as far a part as you can.

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Bake til bread-like texture; then cut the loafs on a diagonal into those classic biscotti  shapes.

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Place slices on the baking sheet, and toast each side for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Biscotti is derived from the latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-baked.”

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I tempered some dark chocolate and dipped one half of the biscotti and sprinkled with the remaining praline.

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I like my biscotti really crunchy, almost jaw-breaker hard. So hard that you have to find a niche in the back of your mouth to get a bite. Eating them on day 3, I realized the mashed bananas in the dough softened the biscottisover time and made them more bread-like. Apparently, you can freeze biscotti because of its low moisture content, but know that the chocolate coating will lose it’s glossy sheen once defrosted.

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[We ordered Lombardi’s pizza for dinner and it being my first time, I wasn’t too impressed. I realize the crust would have probably been better if we ate at the restaurant, so I’ll overlook that minor major floppy point. My favorite pizza is still Bleeker Street Pizza (although this opinion loses its credibility on it being based on only 2 other reputable NY pizzerias I’ve eaten at). ]

cookiesThe rest of the treats from left to right, and clockwise.

1. Jess’s Fluorescent Green “Wreath” Topped with Red “Ornaments.” The “leaves” were quite  “krispy.”  It was the most delicious form of metaphoric fat I’ve had in awhile.

2. Scott’s Rum Balls with Chocolate and Other Insignificant Non-Alcoholic Things (or if Dunkin’ Donuts caught on, Recession Proof Donut Holes). If you’re looking for a dessert to bring to a your next work holiday party, here it is. Here’s a way to contribute a little fun into the work atmosphere in a professional manner without being “that guy.” Their the PC version of those little chocoloate bottles filled with alcohol you used to sneak in your mouth as a 12 year old girl at family holiday parties…right?

These are also great, even better, the next day. The rum flavor is not as intense since it’s been absorbed by the other ingredients, but the alcohol content is still the same! Goes great with morning coffee, especially Monday’s brew.

3. Tara’s Very Literal Chocolate, Sugar, and Saltine Cracker 3-layer Bark (Tara-feel free to chime in if this is not the original title of your dessert).

4. Zahra’s Chocolate Chip Cookies-Why reinvent the wheel? Why fix it if it ain’t broke? Why bake any other kind of chocolate chip cookie when you’ve got Nestle Toll House’s famous classic recipe?

5. Matt’s Peanut Butter Blossoms-Like I told Matt, these looked so good that my first thought as I walked in was, “Who the fuck bought cookies at the store??”  But I was assured Matt had baked these himself. Each blossom had cracked so beautifully around the edges, that I could have sworn they were taken out of a Chips AHoy! box [I use this expression only to highlight the near-identical nature of each blossom and seemingly standardization of Matt’s cookie baking production line that assembles products with very little sign of human error, and not to comment on how Chips AHoy! is an abomination to cookies in general. ]

6. Tyler’s Peanut Butter Cookies-these were great. I forget how good peanut butter cookies are and rarely are they the ones I’ll reach for at a bakery or wherever else I “reach for cookies.” But you reminded me to consider these overlooked desserts next time around. They’re sweet, but not overpowering and have a little bit of that sugar crystal crunch when you bite into them. Even if you made them with generic peanut butter, they tasted gourmet to me.

7. [Picture unavailable] Gavin’s Mexican Cookies. He got the “Most Thoughtful Cookies ” Award. He’d rather not talk about it.

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One Response to “Holiday Cookie Exchange”

  1. 1 peter

    you’re welcome Amy!


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