Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Nothing goes better with a fresh cup of coffee than crunchy biscotti. Although I usually prefer a chocolate version, this time I went for this cranberry pistachio version that is SoGood. If you've never made biscotti, I recommend trying it. It's very easy and a nice change-up from regular cookies.

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti (from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios, toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and sent aside. Combine eggs and sugar in mixer and beat on medium speed until light in color, about 3 minutes. Beat in melted butter, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts on low speed until blended. Add dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Stir in nuts and cranberries. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Scoop out half of the dough onto one half of the prepared baking sheet, and form it into a log 10 inches long. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing logs 3 inches apart. Press logs gently to make them 3 inches wide. With damp fingertips, gently smooth the surface of the logs.

Bake the logs until they are crisp and golden on the outside, about 20-25 minutes. Centers will be soft. Remove from oven and let cool on on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Transfer logs to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut each log crosswise on the diagonal into slices 3/4 inches thick. Arrange slices, cut side down and at least 1/2 inch apart, on the baking sheet.

Bake until crisp and brown on the outside, 17-22 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Interiors become crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall Is In The Air!

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the falling leaves, crisp cool air, pumpkins, cornstalks, sweaters and apple cider that October brings. It's also the perfect time of year for baking with apples. So last night I made the most delicious Apple Cake with Maple Frosting. The recipe comes from a cookbook Tom & I received as a wedding gift, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking. The cake was very moist with just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a nice crunch from the walnuts. I added extra powdered sugar to the icing to stiffen it up faster because we couldn't wait until it cooled to eat it!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves [I left this out because I don't like cloves]
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 cups diced, peeled apples [I used Granny Smith]
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Maple Frosting
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
To make cake:

Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another large bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in 1/3 of flour mixture, until almost fully incorporated. Fold in 1/2 buttermilk, then fold in another 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by remaining buttermilk. Add remaining flour mixture, apples, walnuts, and using a light lifting motion and turning the bowl continuously, fold in until the batter is smooth and flour is thoroughly incorporated. Do not fold too vigorously or the cake will be tough.

Spread batter in a 9 x 13 buttered baking pan and bake at 350 degrees until top of cake is brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - about 35-40 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting.

To make Maple Frosting:

In saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer maple syrup until it reduces by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter. Remove from heat and add vanilla and cream. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl, and pour maple mixture over sugar. Beat with whisk until smooth and creamy. Let cool completely before frosting cake.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welcome to the Official Blog of SoGood CCM!

I am a lawyer, but my passion is baking - from cupcakes to cookies, cheesecakes to muffins. This blog will highlight my baking adventures, for anyone interested in the goodies I'm baking now.

If you are interested in a special order of cupcakes, cookies, muffins, or any SoGood goodies, please contact me for a list of items and pricing.

Welcome to SoGood CCM!