What says it is the holiday season more than the traditional cookie swap? It is an age old tradition of making your favorite cookie and trading with friends. With social media in full swing, why not take the traditional cookie swap and take it to new heights. That is just what Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen did by creating the first annual – “The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011”.
I love to bake cookies and what better way to kick off the holiday season than to participate along with 625 other fabulous food bloggers. The idea is based upon receiving the addresses of 3 other food bloggers and to send them each a dozen of your delicious homemade cookies. In return, your name will be given to 3 other food bloggers and during the week of December 5th packages of cookies magically appear on your doorstep from your secret matches. What could be better?
Now the question was – What wonderful cookie do I make that will ship well, taste divine and still be fresh a few days later? The answer came to me while browsing through the special baking issue of Fine Cooking. There they were in their glory – gingerbread biscotti. They sounded so unique and perfect for the holidays. What could make them even better – dipping in chocolate of course.
Creating an eye catching package takes a bit of thought and creativity, so that is leaves the recipient wondering what is inside. Adding embellishments, gorgeous ribbon and unique boxes are all things to think about when putting together a stunning package. Something that screams eye candy and sets it aside from all other packages. It can be as simple as brown butcher paper with the person’s name stamped on the outside and a simple plaid ribbon OR stunning foil paper with raised designs, fresh holly and a burlap ribbon with a pretty name tag. Whatever your style is, the thought that you put into giving a gift is what counts and seeing the smile on the recipients face.
My hope is that my three wonderful matches enjoyed their chocolate dipped biscotti’s and they arrived unbroken. My matches were Lizzie of Corkscrews & Curls, Kate of Food Lust and Lacy of New York City Eats. Happy Holidays to all of my new blogger friends.
A few days later, my second package arrived at my office from Mary from Passionate Perseverance. Mary sent her Grandma Stuecken’s Speculatius Cookies that are filled with ground almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. They are thin holiday shaped cookies that are quite addictive and hard to eat just one. Thank you Mary!
As of today, I received 2 of my 3 matches – perhaps the 3rd is simply stuck in transit. I am sending out positive thoughts that the UPS or FED EX driver stops at my office. UPDATE: Well the Fed Ex driver did arrive at my office and delivered some yummy Cinnamon Spice Brown Sugar Cookies from Julie at The Semi-Reformed Nerd. I have to say they were well worth the wait. Thank you Julie!
Thank you Lindsay and Julie for such a wonderful event - I look forward to next year! I wish you both a wonderful Holiday Season and all the best in 2012!
Chocolate Dipped Gingerbread Biscotti
Makes 24 cookies
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup lightly packed Madjool dates, chopped
1/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 tsp. Dried orange peel
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda on medium-low speed until well blended. On low speed, briefly mix in the pecans and apricots. In a measuring cup, lightly whisk the molasses, eggs, and orange zest. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the egg mixture. Continue mixing until the dough is well blended and comes together in large, moist clumps, 1 to 2 minutes.
Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface. Divide into two equal piles (about 1 lb. each). Shape each pile into a log that's 10 inches long and about 1-1/2 inches in diameter; lightly flouring your hands as needed (the dough is a bit sticky).
Position the logs on the lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake until the tops are cracked and spring back slightly when gently pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let cool until the logs are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
Carefully peel the biscotti logs from the parchment and transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife saw each log into diagonal slices 3/4 inch wide. Return the slices to the cookie sheet (no need for fresh parchment) and arrange them cut side down. It's all right if they touch because they won't spread.
Bake until the biscotti are dried to your taste, about 10 minutes (for slightly moist and chewy) to 20 minutes (for super-dry and crunchy). Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let the biscotti cool completely. The biscotti will still give slightly when pressed, but will harden as they cool. When cool, store in airtight containers.
1 (12 oz) package semi sweet chocolate chips
½ C. Heavy Cream
After your biscotti’s are completely cooled, prepare the ganache for dipping. Over a double boiler, gently over medium heat melt the chocolate chips and cream until smooth. Set aside until ready to dip. (Can keep over the warm water to keep smooth.) Dip each biscotti into the chocolate and place onto a cookie sheet. Can put into the refrigerator to speed the hardening process.
*Slightly altered from Fine Cooking – December 2005 Issue, Page 46