First up a belated… Happy New Year!
The last month has been a little up and down; the ups being a lovely early Christmas with family followed by a fabulous week skiing in the beautiful Arinsal, in Andorra, over Christmas with friends. The downs being a massively nasty bout of chest infection before, after and during our holiday. An asthma attack 2000m up, at the top of a run, on Boxing Day being something I never really want to experience again, but hey it made for an interesting day amid the heavy snow, the freezing winds and the gorgeous scenery! Note the photos below aren’t of Boxing Day…
Although feeling absolutely pants, I couldn’t resist snow angels… even if it made me a little wheezy!
That all aside, I hope that everyone had a fantastic break with family and friends. I must admit, Christmas away was a little strange, as we were in a hotel there was some Christmas spirit but it wasn’t like being at home. I miss my Dad hugely at Christmas and it’s sort of a bitter-sweet time, especially as my gorgeous nephew is really beginning to get into the whole thing. I just know Dad would of been in his element with him on Christmas morning amid the wrapping paper, boxes and presents. Yet, despite us being in another country we did get to ‘spend’ time with my Mum and Dave, and my Brother, Sister-in-law and nephew – the wonders of FaceTime. Although my heart yearned to be with them, it was the next best thing.
Anyway, 2014 is now upon us, and despite spending the first week of the year living in my PJs as I get better, I’m hoping for another great year. I’ve so much I would like to do, and so much already planned. I can feel my winter blues lifting as the days are edging out to be a little longer again and that Spring is on it’s way. No doubt there’ll be the usual “snow-chaos” in the coming months but even the thought of that can’t shift my up-beat mood. A few things are happening that I’m sure you’ll hear about at some point, but for the time being, I just want to back track a couple of weeks and share the recipes that we created just before things tailed off, and if truth be known before i kick back into the slightly more healthier recipes.
With going away this year and not being sure what to get everyone for Christmas, Ian and I decided that we’d go all in an create festive hampers for everyone. I’ll admit that getting everything together sounds easier then it looks, especially when you’re working to dietary requirements as well. But I’m pleased to say that everything seemed to go down well…. I hope!
Amongst the pinwheel cookies, panettone, Christmas Tree meringues, hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, raspberry and orange liqueur and Ian’s easy Christmas fudge, I nestled some gingerbread and white chocolate biscotti for dunking in some lovely Italian coffee on Christmas Day evening or Boxing Day ‘elevenses’. The other beauty was that as we’d so much to make these could be made first and got out of the way.
I was a little daunted at first about if these would work, the dough didn’t seem to ‘be enough’ and I was unsure about whether they would form that classic biscotti ‘log’ shape. But, my fears were unfounded and they looked the part. After the first bake, when I took the logs out to shape the biscotti I was really happy with them, and they sliced perfectly ready for the second and third flash bakes to dry the biscotti out to get that crispy, hard texture.
This recipe is a ‘gingerbread’ flavour, although I would say that it’s probably more a light gingerbread than a dense rich one. I used white caster sugar, but you could substitute it for a soft brown or muscovado instead. But I find that the white chocolate chunks work better with the lighter flavour and you don’t get the two flavours competing with each other, to be the star ingredient, especially when accompanying a good strong, velvety coffee!
- 250g Plain flour
- ½ tsp Baking powder
- 250g Caster sugar or soft brown sugar
- 3 Eggs, medium
- 1 tbsp Ground ginger
- ¾ tsp Ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp Ground cloves
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 50g White chocolate chips
- 150g White chocolate, melted
- Chocolate sprinkles, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line two large baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, sift the flour and the baking powder together into the mixer bowl. Alternatively sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar to the mixing bowl.
- Gently start to mix together.
- In a small bowl, gently beat the eggs and add slowly to the mix until it starts to come together.
- Add the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla extract and white chocolate chips.
- Knead the mixture until it comes together and is smooth. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Split the dough and shape into two logs. Place the logs on the lined baking trays and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the logs from the oven, and cool slightly to allow you to handle them. Using a large serrated knife, cut the logs into 2cm thick slices.
- Place the slices on the baking trays, cut slice down. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and turn over, and bake for another 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Leave on a wire rack to cool.
- Add the white chocolate to a small heatproof bowl, place over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until all the chocolate has melted. Alternatively melt in the microwave.
- Dip one end of the cooled biscotti into the white chocolate. Place on a sheet of baking parchment , scatter with chocolate sprinkles and leave to set.
The biscotti can be made up to 4 weeks in advance and kept in an airtight container. The biscotti can be frozen up to 2 months.