Monday, December 20, 2010

Cardamom Biscotti...

We haven't made biscotti in quite some time - I was planning on making a couple different batches for the holiday packages, but we already had a ton of items to make and we frankly ran out of time before they had to go out! Now that we're settling down and Jeff is recovering from his neck surgery (see below!), I found time to crank out this Cardamom Biscotti for me to snack on.

Most biscotti are pretty flexible with adaptations - for these, we went with all-purpose flour, cut with a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour, and ground almonds for a hint of nuttiness. While you could use already ground cardamom, you might want to up the amount as it tends to be less intense than freshly ground. We ground our cardamom fresh for the most gusto, taking the tiny seeds out of their green shells and crushing them with our mortar and pestle.

With a little baking powder for lift and salt to balance the sweetness, granulated sugar joins the dry mixture and the whole shebang is simply brought together with a couple eggs and a heavy splash of vanilla.

Shaped into a log (try to use as little extra flour as possible), the dough is placed on the baking sheet and gently flattened to help the biscotti spread evenly as it bakes. Interestingly enough, instead of coating the dough with a beaten egg white and sugar before baking, this recipe calls for taking the loaf out more than halfway through baking to be coated then. Why? I'm not all that sure, but I followed along and it seemed to work out well.

I didn't want to fudge with the sugar-y crust that had been created on the loaf by spritzing it with water as we typically do with biscotti, so I skipped that process this time. While I don't think it suffered much, the loaf did crumble slightly more than it would have if we had softened the outside.

This biscotti is made without any butter or oils in the tacky dough, making for an extremly crisp and crunchy cookie. Softer versions with added fat do have their place, but I tend to reach for this kind. I'm not really one for dunking, but I could see the aromatic cardamom in these pairing well with your favorite brew, tea or maybe even a cup of decadent hot chocolate. If you wanted to go all fancy, I think a dip or drizzle of melted white chocolate would be fun - dark chocolate may be a bit overpowering here. Lovely by their mildly-spiced selves, we did find them particularly enjoyable crumbled over a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream!

Back to my comment about Jeff's surgery. Some people knew, but most reading this probably didn't. He had surgery last Friday to replace a disc in his neck (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion to be specific) - we stayed at the hospital for a night and came home Saturday. The surgery was successful and he is spending most of his time resting to heal - it will take 3 to 6 weeks for it to settle down and he is given clearance to go back to work. Since they went in through the front of his neck for this type of surgery (I'll spare you his wound picture... he is having fun showing it off - be aware if you click that!), he is restricted to soft foods and liquids. Posts may be fairly slow until he has his appetite back and can eat as usual.

If we're not back to posting before the holiday hits, Merry Christmas!


  1. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and get well soon.

  2. I hope Jeff gets better soon, and Merry Christmas to both of you!

  3. I hope Jeff has a quick and pain-free recovery. I'm glad the surgery went so well!

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Best wishes for Jeff for a speedy recovery! A good time of year to take time out to recover.

    Happy Holidays from Minnesota!

  5. Anon - And back to you!

    Megan - Thanks! Merry Christmas!

    Jennifer - I'm sure he wishes it would go by quicker, but at least he wasn't in the hospital longer! Merry Christmas!

    Kristin - Thanks, back to you! And no, I don't miss all that snow you all have been getting one bit!

  6. I had the same thing two years ago on my C6-C7. If I may ask, what did they fuse with? I wasn't given an option and had my hip opened up so they could take a graft, but I have heard of cadaver bones or synthetic material also being used. I hope he gets better soon, I know how much misery he went through and I have full sympathy for you Joe, as putting up with someone after surgery isn't always fun.

    Merry Christmas everybody! I've been having so much fun cooking and baking this year and going through all the wonderful recipes on this blog.

  7. Jay - Wow! He had it at the same place - C6/C7.

    I can't imagine having to take a graft from your hip - sounds pretty painful and I can't imagine how that impacted your healing! Some of it was synthetic that they used for filler, while the rest was stuff they gathered from the area they opened. It is nice to hear from someone who actually went through this too! Did you recover well?

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Theresa from MN12/22/2010 10:05:00 AM

    Joe: Merry Christmas to you and Jeff. Thanks for all your baking inspiration. Hope that Jeff mends well and can enjoy some of his time off. Take care.

  9. I too had the surgery C5,6,7 three years ago and have never felt better. No more numbness in fingers and pain free! Good luck to Jeff in his recovery - it's absolutely essential that he take it easy and forego the cartwheels for a while. Hope you both have a wonderful holiday season and all the best in 2011.

  10. Theresa - Merry Christmas!

    June - That's good to hear! His numbness had taken over his entire arm down to his fingers - that nerve was really pinched! I agree, no cartwheels for him!

  11. Hope the recovery goes quickly. In the meantime, those biscotti look fantastic. I always forget about cardamom as a standalone flavor.

  12. Oh my goodness! I will be thinking of you and Jeff this holiday season. I am glad to hear things went okay and I hope he recovers quickly!


  13. Not back here as often as I like but I always make it a point to check out your holiday treat boxes. You always have such great ideas and recipes. Once again, you don't disappoint. Cardamom has become my new favorite spice in the last year so these biscotti are perfect!!! And I have the cranberry swirl cookies chilling now, so I can slice, bake and take to Christmas dinner tomorrow. Thanks again for sharing your talent and enthusiasm for cooking. Blessings in the new year and hope Jeff has a speedy recovery.
    Merry Christmas! Maria

  14. Kelly - Thank you!

    Courtney - I know, it's been a crazy holiday season!

    Maria - Enjoy all of the treats! Happy New Year!

  15. Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

    - David