Monday, February 26, 2007

Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Well, somehow our part of the state missed the freezing rain and sleet that had been predicted (over and over by the television forecasters, each broadcast bringing more dire warnings) and temperatures are in the low 40’s. The snow is melting and some of the sidewalk is actually dry for the first time in weeks. Spooky enjoys being outside much more now (since we all know how much cats hate having wet paws).

I attempted to take a walk to the back of our property, but the path was quite muddy and the trails going through the woods were still covered with slushy snow. I turned around, stopped for a while to watch the horses at the farm next door chase each other (they must have been happy to be outside too), and returned home to find Spooky waiting for me, sitting on top of the plastic compost bin at the end of the garden. I haven’t run the trails since last November, but he remembered that’s where he always waits for me to return.

Over the weekend I tried a new biscotti recipe.

In my post several days ago I mentioned my failed attempt at making toffee. How I burnt the toffee and, still being optimistic that it might taste okay once the chocolate was spread on it, I finished the recipe. Only to discover that no amount of chocolate and almonds could disguise that terrible burnt-sugar taste. Blech. So I kept the pan in the refrigerator for several days, not wanting to let go of the chocolate and almonds but not quite knowing what to do with the mess. So the next time I baked I placed the pan in the oven for a few minutes and, fortunately, the chocolate softened but the toffee did not. I was able to scrape the chocolate and almond mixture off, spread it on waxed paper, wrap in plastic, and then I refrigerated it. For something. I said that I’m optimistic (usually).

I was reading some blogs the other evening and found a recipe for Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti when I experienced a light-bulb moment. Chop the chocolate and almond mixture and use it in this biscotti! So I did and it turned out great.

I made some changes to the original recipe which I found on the Farmgirl Fare blog.

To begin with, I had to reduce the butter. In 1 year and 7 ½ weeks (who’s counting?) I will have a birthday that a lot of people don’t exactly look forward to. The age where “friends” may find it amusing to throw a party and decorate with black streamers and balloons proclaiming “Over The Hill!!!”. There may even be a small icing vulture perched on the birthday cake. I

n order to keep time at bay, I’m trying really hard to eat healthy foods and exercise, and only a small amount of butter fits into this diet. I replaced most of the butter with canola oil (monosaturated fat replacing saturated—a good substitution) and replaced one egg with two egg whites. I had slightly over the amount of chocolate-and-almond mixture that the recipe called for, so I was forced to eat a little of it rather than screw up the recipe by adding too much... The resulting dough was one of the biscotti doughs that I’ve ever used. Just slightly sticky, it was very easy to form into logs.

Jack proclaimed these biscotti “wonderful” and I agree. The texture is dry but not hard or overly crumbly, it’s just sweet enough, and the almond flavor compliments the chocolate nicely without being overpowering.

Here is the recipe, straight from Farmgirl , with my changes added in blue:

This is a pleasant, all around, not particularly sweet biscotti that lasts for several days and improves with age (no, I doubt if I’ll find this out!). It also freezes well. It holds up dunking but is also yummy by itself. In my opinion, it goes well with everything from a cup of hot coffee to a cold glass of champagne. If you are craving a sweeter (or fancier) dessert, you could dip one side of each piece into melted chocolate. Or you could be dunking your biscotti in amaretto. Or you could break up a few pieces and stir them into some very nice ice cream and drizzle it with chocolate sauce or amaretto. The possibilities, really, are endless. The egg white glaze is totally optional but does give the tops of the biscotti a very nice shine.

¾ cup (2 ¼ ounces) sliced almonds, toasted at 350˚F for 8-10 minutes, then cooled

1 stick ( ½ cup/ 4 ounces) butter, softened ( 2 tablespoons butter, softened)

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup (8 ounces) sugar

2 large eggs ( 2 large egg whites, 1 large whole egg)

1 teaspoon real almond extract

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

2 ½ cups (13 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoon ( ¼ ounce) baking powder (make sure it’s fresh!)

½ teaspoon ( ⅛ ounce) salt

¾ cup (5 ounces) dark chocolate chips or mini semisweet chocolate chips

1 beaten egg white for glaze, optional

1. Heat oven to 350˚F

2. Place butter, canola oil, sugar, eggs, and extracts in a bowl and beat until well-blended (I use an electric hand mixer on medium for about one minute).

3. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until dough forms. Stir in almonds and chocolate chips. Dough will be stiff.

4. Divide dough in half and, on a baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray, pat each half into a 3” x 9” log. Brush with egg glaze, if desired.

5. Bake logs for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and just beginning to crack on the top. Reduce oven temperature to 300˚.

6. Allow logs to cool for 15 minutes or longer (30 minutes) and slice into ½” wide diagonal slices (I use a large serrated knife. I used an electric knife.)

7. Lay slices on their sides on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip slices and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until cookies are dry and crisp (I placed the slices, standing up, on the baking sheet and baked for 25 minutes). (Note: they will crisp up more as they cool)

Store in an airtight container for up to several days or freeze. Flavors improve with age.

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Per serving: 130 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat (3 saturated, 2 monosaturated, 1 polyunsaturated); (46% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 17mg Cholesterol; 80mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

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Per serving: 112 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat (1 saturated, 2 monosaturated, 1 polyunsaturated); (38% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 7mg Cholesterol; 62mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Tonight I made a chicken and vegetable curry for dinner. It was quite good, although Jack wants it a little spicier next time. I thought it was just hot enough. ;)

I love Indian food, and the nearest restaurant is 45 minutes drive, so I just have to do it myself. Penzey's is a great source for the spices that I use. Their sweet curry powder rocks(although their hot curry powder is intense) and garam masala is great, too. In this recipe, I added a touch more spice and flavor with the addition of a small amount of red curry paste as well. However, the recipe is good without.

In order to reduce the fat in recipes containing coconut milk (even the "lite" coconut milk runs 4g staurated fat per 1/3 cup serving), I replace about half of the recipe amount with skim milk, then add coconut extract just before serving. About 1 teaspoon extract per cup of milk works well. I also stirred in 1 teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon water since the sauce was a little on the thin side.

* Exported from MasterCook *

South Indian Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Recipe By : Vicci
Serving Size : 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 large onion -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro -- loosely packed
1 large garlic clove -- minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 medium red bell pepper -- 3/4" dice
10 ounces cauliflower flowerets
20 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- 3/4" cubes
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sweet curry powder
1 1/4 cups lite coconut milk -- divided
3/4 teaspoon red curry paste
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven until hot. Add mustard seeds and allow to sizzle for 30-45 seconds. Stir in onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and sitr frequently for 4 minutes. Sprinkle in garam masala and curry powder and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add small amounts of water if the mixture seems to be sticking (don't worry if the mixture becomes "clumpy").

Add chicken cubes, stirring well and coating the pieces with spices. Stir for another 5 minutes, again adding small amounts of water if the chicken and onions are sticking. In a measuring cup, mix 1/2 cup lite coconut milk with 1/2 cup water and curry paste. Add to chicken and stir, bringing up the browned bits from the bottom and incorporating them into the sauce. When the sauce begins to boil, lower heat to medium-low and cover tightly. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add remaining coconut milk and the skim milk, stir in vegetables until coated with sauce, then turn up the heat a bit to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 1o minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is just cooked but not mushy. Add coconut extract and peas, stir in, serve.

Serve over steamed basmati rice.

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Per serving: 216 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat; (27% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 56mg Cholesterol; 121mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : You can use more lite coconut milk in place of the skim milk and coconut extract, but obviously the fat content will be higher