Cookies! Cookies! Who likes cookies? I do! I mean, come on -- who doesn't like cookies?
It's interesting, though, because for me, my cookie preference is one of those peculiar tastes that continues to evolve as I grow older. Take brussels sprouts, for example. As a child, I had no idea what they were, but due to reputation you could not have paid me to touch them with a ten foot pole. Now, I have not only tried brussels sprouts, but I have fallen head-over-heels for them. The same with zucchini and cooked mushrooms. I wonder if I would find this principle in action with chicken pot pie. A long-detested food enemy of my childhood, I feel that I might be able to enjoy this glutinous mess of a dish. But then I remember how much the innards of a chicken pot pie resemble mucous, and I decide not to tempt fate.
Back to cookies. Growing up, my favorites included my grandmother's chocolate chip cookies as well as her cut-out shortbreads with tiny jimmies, sprinkled cookies from my family's Italian bakery of choice, and Samoas (chocolate, caramel, and coconut) and Tagalongs (peanut butter and chocolate) from the Girl Scouts. And although I did enjoy more sophisticated confections like pignoli (or pine, in English) nut cookies (hey, I'm an Italian-Polish Jersey girl!), I generally preferred my cookies stuffed with chocolate and sugar. We would have biscotti wander through our pantry with fair regularity since my mother liked (and still likes!) them, but I always found them too hard to enjoy.
That is not the case any longer. I have discovered the subtle and simple of joy of a biscotti paired with hot tea or coffee. Dipping a cookie with such wonderful texture and flavor and a delicate hint of sweetness and letting the warm drink infuse it further before taking a bite can be absolutely exquisite. And now, not only do I enjoy eating biscotti, but I also love to make them. Remember my Biscotti Feste of last year? Filled with freshly hulled pomegranate seeds and pistachios and drizzled with melted peppermint, these biscotti marked my premiere foray into the camaraderie and challenge that is the Royal Foodie Joust, as well as into foodie blog events in general. So when I heard about this December's Ginger People Holiday Cookie Recipe Contest hosted by the Leftover Queen, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
The task was simple. The contest challenged members of the Foodie Blogroll to create a holiday cookie that incorporated crystallized ginger by the end of the month. Being a fan of crystallized ginger (another evolved taste since childhood) as well as biscotti, the answer to my barely-entertained question of what kind of cookie to make was obvious. And so I present my entry for Ginger People's Holiday Cookie Recipe Contest: ginger biscotti, inspired by this recipe, with the subtle surprise of white chocolate.
Ginger 'n' Spice 'n' Everything Nice Biscotti
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup spiced cider
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cyrstallized ginger, diced
1/8 cup white chocolate chips
2 eggs, beaten (I used Egg Beaters)
1/3 cup butter, melted (I used Smart Balance)
Preheat the oven to 325* F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix the first 8 ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs, butter, cider, and sugar. Hand mix thoroughly or blend for 10 seconds with an electric mixer or food processor. Pour about half of the wet mixture of the dry ingredients and mix. Add the remaining wet mixture and continue to stir until a soft, sticky dough forms and no loose flour is left in the bowl. Fold in the ginger and white chocolate chips.
Divide the dough into two pieces. With damp hands, form each section of dough into a log that is about three inches wide and less than an inch tall. Place each log on either end of the cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until firm.
Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then, with a long, serrated knife, slice each love into 1/2-inch wide cookies, cutting diagonally. Turn the cookies onto a flat side and bake for another 10 minutes. Next, flip the cookies and bake for 10 minutes once again. Turn the oven off but leave the biscotti inside for another 5 minutes. Remove and continue to cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature for 3 days, or freeze for several weeks. These cookies taste especially delectable dunked in ginger tea, white tea, or another tea that is either spiced or delicate in flavor.
Makes 30-40 cookies.