November 11, 2010

Harvest Biscotti

Ok, so I STILL had leftover canned pureed pumpkin...seriously. I shouldn't have bought the big can, but then again I couldn't have made all these extra pumpkin treats, so here it goes.

I've been thinking of making biscotti for a long time, since I am Italian and it is a classic Italian cookie, great with coffee or tea. Biscotti is a twice baked biscuit-like cookie that is baked as a log and then cut into the sliced cookies and baked again to make them nice and crisp. I was thinking, since it's my first year hosting Thanksgiving *panic* that it might be nice to have a little treat for my guest to take home after dinner. I wanted to test these out first to make sure they are good enough for company. So here goes nothing!

Harvest Biscotti

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup dried raisins and cranberries (Sun-Maid has these packaged together)
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and spices. Add the raisins and cranberries and mix to incorporate thoroughly.

In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla extract. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Give this a rough stir to generally combine ingredients, dough will be crumbly.

Flour our hands and a clean kitchen surface and lightly knead the dough. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Form the dough into a large log, roughly 15-20 inches by 6-7 inches. The loaves should be relatively flat. Only about 1/2 inch high. Bake for 22-30 minutes at 350, until the center is firm to the touch. (you can also form 2 smaller logs, to make bite-size biscotti, change baking time to 18-25 minutes.)

Let the biscotti logs cool for 15 minutes, then using a serrated knife, cut into 1 inch thick pieces. Turn the oven to 300 and bake the biscotti pieces for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely.

Biscotti may still be a tad moist and chewy, so if you prefer the crispier biscotti let sit uncovered overnight in a dry space. Serve and enjoy!

(recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)

I choose to do the two smaller logs to have smaller biscotti, but I think I might like to have the larger ones for my guests (my guests being my parents, in-laws, my eldest brother and my youngest brother's family.) These are pretty tasty, and I really like the soft texture of the raisins and cranberries in the crisp and crumbly biscuit cookie. I think even adding nuts for crunch and a salty taste would be great as well. These were really easy to make and I think that my guest will really enjoy them as a take-home treat!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!


November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Rolls

I had leftover pumpkin from when I made my pumpkin cream cheese muffins and I knew i had to use it up so it didn't go bad, but I hadn't been inspired by anything, and I didn't want to make muffins again. So I started peeking around online and found an amazing idea. Pumpkin cinnamon rolls! What could be better?! So here's the recipe I found and I hope you enjoy!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Rolls
(find original recipe here.)

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 T granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Cooking Spray
3 T granulated sugar
3 T brown sugar
2 T flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 T chilled butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup powered sugar
1 T hot water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

To prepare the buns, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour, pumpkin, and next 5 ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg); beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of the remaining 3/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Punch dough down; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Cut roll into 12 (1-inch) slices. Place slices in a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bake the rolls at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and vanilla extract in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over buns. Serve warm.

These cinnamon rolls came out great! They were quite easy to make. The longest process was letting the dough rise and then letting the rolls proof once in the pan, but besides that, I felt they were super simple to make. These don't have much of a pumpkin flavor as I expected but there is only 1/2 a cup of pumpkin in them, but they have a nice spice and flavor to them. The pumpkin gives these a lovely orangey color. They are really moist and the cinnamon sugar filling is really delicious. I think these are totally worth the effort and they are really, really good!!! Perfect for a nice fall morning, to go with your cup of coffee or tea.

Fresh out of the oven, waiting for the glaze

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!