Italian Cranberry Orange Biscotti

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Recently, as I was looking through some old cookie recipes, I came across this biscotti recipe. A co-worker (and friend) gave me this recipe 15 years ago.  This was an old family recipe, and I was very excited and priviledged that she was sharing it with me…Thanks Ann!

If you haven’t already guessed, her family is from Italy.  I have a niece that lives in Italy too!  She is an amazing cook and baker!!! I am hoping to visit her in Italy in the near future.

Now, back to these delicious cookies (or are they biscuits? Hmmm). The definition of biscotti is “twice baked” cookies that originated in Italy, and are not as sweet as traditional cookies.  They are dry and crunchy (not your typical description for a cookie), but they are made to be dunked.

Since they are very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink for dunking. In Italy, they are typically served as an after-dinner dessert with a Tuscan fortified wine called Vin Santo.

Outside of Italy, they are more frequently eaten with coffee, (including cappuccinos and lattes), or tea.

I love the taste that the orange zest gives to these cookies. Combined with the dried cranberries and white chocolate, the taste is out of this world!! Do yourself a favor and make these gems.  Don’t wait 15 years like I did….oh my!  These cookies are back on the top of my list and should be on the top of yours too!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I use Bertolli extra light tasting)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 eggs-room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (120 grams)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of one medium orange (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad.
  • Zest one medium sized orange and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the olive oil and sugar until well combined (one minute). Scraping sides of bowl as needed.  Add the extracts and the eggs and beat to combine.
  • In smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir into the egg mixture until combined. Fold in the cranberries, nuts, chips and orange zest. Dough will be a little sticky. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into 3 logs (approximately 6 x 2 inches). Place the logs on the lined cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until logs are light brown.
  • Remove the logs from the oven, and set aside to cool for approximately 10-15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 275 degrees.
  • Cut the logs into 1/2- 3/4 inch slices.  Lay slices cut side up on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Move cookies to a wire rack to cool and dry completely before serving.  Makes 20-24 cookies Enjoy!!!

 

If desired, cookies can be drizzled with white chocolate. They can be stored in an airtight container or they can be frozen and brought to room temperature to eat.

Zucchini Pancakes

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I have always been a lover of all things pancake!  I like banana pancakes ( and Jack Johnson music too)!!  Because I am a huge fan of chocolate, it is safe to say that chocolate chip pancakes are in my top three:).  I didn’t really want a savory pancake when I made these zucchini pancakes, and I succeeded.  Not saying a savory pancake wouldn’t be delicious because I’m sure it would, but I was in the mood for sweet and these hit the spot!  The buttermilk mixing with the baking powder made these oh so fluffy.  I’m kinda drooling right now just thinking about it! Yum, Yum! Topped with butter and maple syrup, these puffy bits of deliciousness practically melt in your mouth.  These are definitely a treat, so don’t skimp on the toppings.  Everything in moderation (wink, wink).  Please enjoy these pancakes and also, the fun pancake facts I found while searching the origin of pancakes.

Fun Pancake Facts:

  • Pancake Day is real! Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) is the holiday of feasting before Lent.
  • During Lent, people were once not allowed to eat animal products like milk, butter, and eggs. To prevent them from going to waste these ingredients were cooked into tall stacks of pancakes. They were consumed in such large amounts that this day earned the rightful name of Pancake Day.
  • Pancakes have been around for centuries as a favorite staple in many cultures’ diets. They began over 30,000 years ago during the Stone Age. Researchers have found pancakes in the stomach of Otzi the Iceman, human remains dating back 5,300 years.
  • Pancakes are found almost in every culture. It is a thin flat cake made from batter and fried in a pan or on a griddle. Batter is usually made from eggs, flour, milk or water, oil or melted butter. Sometimes batter can be made from buttermilk.
  • January 28th is National Blueberry Pancake Day.
  • September 26th is National Pancake Day.
  • Maple syrup which is often used as a topping was originally a sweet drink which was discovered by the Algonquin Indians.
  • The first ready-mix food which was sold commercially was Aunt Jemima pancake flour. It was invented in 1889 in St. Joseph, Missouri.
  • It is common in France to touch the handle of the frying pan and to make a wish while the pancake is turned, holding a coin in one hand.
  • The first pancake recipe appeared in an English cookbook in the fifteenth century.
  • World’s biggest pancake was cooked in Rochdale (Greater Manchester) in 1994, which was 15 meters in diameter, weighted three tons, and had an estimated two million calories.
  • In 2005, Celebrity chef Aldo Zilli set the world record for the highest pancake toss of 329 cm.
  • The French crêpe is thin and crispy. It is folded or rolled and heated in a sauce of sugar, butter, citrus juice and liqueur.
  • One pancake fan ran a marathon while continually tossing a pancake for three hours, two minutes and twenty seven seconds.
  • The first ready-mix food to be sold commercially was Aunt Jemima pancake flour. It was invented in St. Joseph, Missouri, in the year 1889.

Reference: Wikipedia: Fun Facts about Pancakes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
  • 1 ½ cups grated zucchini
  • Maple syrup and butter for serving

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla bean extract. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in the zucchini.
  • Heat a griddle or pan to medium heat. Add butter (or you can us cooking spray). Pour about a 1/2 cup of batter onto heated skillet. Cook until the surface of the pancake has some bubbles and a few have burst (see photos) about 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. Continue making pancakes until the batter is gone. Serve pancakes with butter and maple syrup…Yum!!

If you have any left pancakes left over, these freeze really well.  Wrap in plastic wrap after they are cooled.  Place in a plastic zip bag and place in the freezer.  To reheat the pancakes, microwave for approximately 20 seconds or heat in a toaster.  Enjoy!! xoxo

Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Have you ever been on a date and the other person orders dessert and when it comes, you think to yourself, “Oh man, I wish I would have ordered that!”.  And then they say, “Would you like to taste it?”.   You taste it, and well, you know what I’m talking about.  Well, it happened to me, and it was an amazing flourless cake!  When I found a recipe that only had three ingredients I knew I had to make it.  It has to be one of the easiest (and most delicious) desserts I have ever made!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chocolate (I used Guiradelli 60 percent bittersweet baking chocolate)
  • 8 large (cold) eggs
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cut into 16 pieces)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease the inside of an 8 or 9 inch spring form pan. Line bottom with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper. Cover the outside of the spring form pan with aluminum foil.  Place covered pan in a slightly larger pan. Fill outer pan with one cup of boiling water right before the cake is ready to be placed in the oven.

Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave just until melted. Set aside to cool while you whip the eggs.

In a large bowl, using a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on high speed for about 5-7 minutes (or until double in volume).  Gently (and I do mean GENTLY!) fold  the whipped eggs into the melted chocolate and butter mixture.  Start with 1/3 of the whipped eggs.  Fold until incorporated.  Continue two more times in 1/3 increments until the egg mixture and chocolate are fully incorporated.  Be very gentle with this process.  You do not want to knock all the air out of the eggs.

Pour this mixture into the prepared pan.  Place in the preheated oven.  Be careful not to get burned by the boiling water!

Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes. There will be a thin crust on top when finished. Carefully remove cake from oven (again, being careful not to get burned by the water). Completely cool in pan on wire rack.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  Remove spring form from pan before serving.  Remove the parchment paper and place on serving platter.  Dust with confectioners sugar and berries if desired.  I also served mine with a small scoop of my homemade ice cream…Yum!!!! You need to make this cake SOON!  Enjoy! xoxo

This recipe is inspired by Ali @gimmesomeoven.  Thanks Ali!!

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Cran-raspberry Crumble

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I did it! I made the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving. Yup, that’s right! Look no more. It’s the most incredible crumble EVER!!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a firm believer that cheesecake, pumpkin and apple pies should still be on the dessert table, but this will be a delicious new addition…YUMMM!

I don’t think cranberries get the respect they deserve. They are perfect when they are paired with apples, raspberries and oranges (and a little lemon zest too!).  I am a lover of anything raspberry too, so putting these two together with some sugar, citrus zests and extracts, makes for a bowl of goodness!  I made some homemade vanilla ice cream to have with mine, but whipped cream would work too🤗.

Cran-raspberry Filling

  • 3½ cups (350 grams) cranberries
  • 2½ cups (375 grams) raspberries
  • ¼ cup (45 ml) orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1¼ cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour (30 grams) 

Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons (about 158 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375º degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish. Put the cranberries and raspberries in the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl whisk the orange juice and extracts together and drizzle over berries. In a small mixing bowl, add the sugar and zests and mix until well combined. Work the zest into the sugar to release the essential oils for maximum flavor. Add the spices and tapioca flour; whisk until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the fruit.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into flour mixture until it resembles small pea-sized pieces. Whisk the extracts and egg together. With a fork, gently toss the beaten egg and extracts into the flour mixture until moist and the dough starts to hold together. Continue to gently blend your with fingertips until combined.

Be careful not to overwork the dough. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit filling. Sprinkle topping with sugar.

Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 50 to 55 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil after 25 minutes of baking. Remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.

Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or fresh whipped cream.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

 

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

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In honor of National Chocolate Day (yes, it’s a real day), I made a chocolate Pavlova,  topped with a thin layer of delicious chocolate, whipped cream and fresh raspberries. This pavlova is so light and airy with all “feels” of a decadent dessert. There are a few easy components, that when put together, have an out of this world taste!

As a food blogger, I love all the “special” days that are food related. There are certain things that I am particularly fond of and chocolate is at the very top of that list!  I wanted to make something a little different for you today.  Pavlova always sounded so intimidating to me, but I can assure you it is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made.  Most of the time making a pavlova is in the baking and cooling.  It needs to be baked on a low temperature for an hour, left in the oven for another 30 minutes with the oven off, and then cooled for 45 minutes after it’s removed from the oven.

I can guarantee you are going to love this yummy dessert. You can top it with any fruit and then drizzle a sauce of your choice (chocolate, caramel, salted caramel, etc.).

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (25 grams)
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 4 0z. good semisweet chopped chocolate (113 grams)
  • 1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream (237 ml)
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (25 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Fresh raspberries (for topping)
  • Salted caramel sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line cookie sheet with nonstick parchment paper.  Using an edible marker, make a 9” circle.  I traced a 9” pan.  If your parchment paper isn’t nonstick, grease your paper with butter or shortening and dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Sift cocoa and cornstarch and set aside. Wipe the mixing bowl and whisk beater with lemon juice or vinegar to make sure it is free of any oils.  This helps the egg whites to form stiff peaks.  Mix egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed for 1 minute.  Continue whipping the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar.  Gradually add the sifted cocoa and corn starch.  Once cocoa mixture is incorporated, turn mixer on high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form.

Spread the meringue mixture on the parchment paper in the circle. Make an indent in the middle (leaving about a 2” border).  Bake for about an hour until the meringue feels dry to the touch.  Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside for about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow cooling on the baking sheet (about 45 minutes).

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Allow to cool slightly and then spread in the center of the meringue.  Whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla bean paste.  Spoon in the center of the meringue on top of cooled chocolate.  Top with the fruit of your choice.  I like to sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top.   Serve right away or refrigerate for a few hours.  This is such a treat!  I’m sure this will be a hit at any event!!

 

 

Super Moist Avocado Cupcakes

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I never used to eat avocados. After my son married a girl from Southern California (17 years ago),   she made tacos for dinner one night.   She made guacamole.  I never had it before and I thought it was one of the tastiest things I had ever eaten!!

Over the years I have looked forward to the nights we have tacos, mostly because I know my daughter-in-love is going to make the guacamole…YUMMMM!! She has taught me everything I need to know about picking the right avocado and how to ripen them fast!  Feeling and squeezing the avocado is not an easy task!!! When that thing is ready, you need to make that quac PRONTO!

I have wanted to make avocado cupcakes for a while now, so when I had an avocado that was ripe, I knew that now was the time. Fun fact #1- Avocado can be used in place of butter and adds moistness to cupcakes, cakes and other baked goods.  I used ½ cup mashed avocado and ½ cup extra virgin olive oil in my cupcake recipe.  Those things were so moist!

Fun fact #2- Avocado is a fruit. They are by no means sweet!   They grow on a tree that is part of the flowering plant family Lauraceae.  The avocado (also known as the alligator pear or avocado pear) is a large berry containing a large seed).

Fun fact #3-Hass avocados are perfect for mashing, so I recommend using these for your cupcakes.

I frosted these gems with some cream cheese frosting. This frosting goes perfectly with these cupcakes (let’s face it, cream cheese frosting goes well on just about anything!!).

Last Fun fact- Dogs and cats can eat the cream center of an avocado, but the pit and the skin are highly TOXIC!!! The remains of the avocado can be used in your compost or just discard it in the trash.

I hope you make these cupcakes. If you do, tag me on Instagram and show me your finished product.  Enjoy!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners (this recipe makes approximately 18 cupcakes).

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix the eggs and granulated sugar on high for 5 minutes. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the oil and mix until combined.  Mix in the mashed avocado just until incorporated.  Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.  Pour in the milk and other half of the dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute.  Scrape down bowl and beater. Let mixture sit for two minutes.  Stir mix and pour (or scoop) into cupcake tins.  Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full and bake for 16-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely on cooling rack.  Frost and eat.  If there are any left over…cover and refrigerate.

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups of flour (180 grams)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
  • 2 large eggs – room temperature
  • 1 medium avocado, mashed (115 grams)
  • ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (108 grams)
  • 2/3 Cup of whole milk – room temperature (163 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice (I like to use Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese – room temperature (227 grams)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter – room temperature (113 grams)
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar (220 grams)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Mix cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Slowly add sugar and mix until combined.  Add salt and vanilla bean paste.  Mix on high for one minute, scraping sides and bottom of bowl when needed.  Add to bag with tip or use offset spatula. Decorate cupcakes as desired.

 

 

Delicious Alfredo Sauce

  • This Alfredo sauce is quick, easy and delicious😋! It’s just five ingredients and you can have dinner on the table in half an hour!!
  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • In a large saucepan, heat butter and heavy cream on medium heat until it melts and starts to simmer.
  • Add remaining ingredients and turn heat to medium/low and whisk together until smooth and creamy.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite pasta😋. Enjoy!!