It’s American Thanksgiving week, friends! Are you hosting this year? Are you stoked about your menus? Have you thought about what you’ll do with the leftovers yet? Of course you have, because that’s what food-centric individuals do this year: focus 100% of their efforts on the prepping, pre- and post-game, and general food merry-go-round which revolves around the main event happening this Thursday. Hooray for Thanksgiving, I say.
In a stunning break from tradition, I’m not making Thanksgiving this year. Mr. Table decided it would be a nice to “give us a break” this year (remember that phrase for later, folks) and booked us a house at the lake for a few days. We’re going to a full-blown thanksgiving buffet: something I’ve never before experienced, but I have high hopes, if only for the “now I’ve done it” reason. There’s some sort of bonfire happening later in the evening, with s’mores and cookies, and then I think there’s a tree-lighting, and then this girl will be spending the rest of the weekend alternating between the fitness center on the property and the plethora of books I plan on taking (any book suggestions are welcome). Overall, it should be a really relaxing weekend for all of us.
Except for this: we are having Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant, which means…right. Exactly. No possibility of leftovers. Do you know what Mr. Table’s solution for this is? I bet you do! Yes, friends: Mr. Table has decided it’s only right if I cook up an entire thanksgiving dinner ahead of time to take along with us. To use as leftovers. Can you feel what my face looks like right now as I type this? The slightly amused squint, the pursed lips, the head tilt, the “You make an excellent point, but I’d kinda like to strangle you?” thoughts running through my head? I know you can.
So – as it turns out, there’s no escaping thanksgiving for food people, even when they physically leave town. And ultimately, I’m okay with that: making it ahead of time allows for more hours to execute and it doesn’t have to culminate with everything getting done at exactly the same time. And yes, okay, I get to cook Thanksgiving, and I do like doing that, so it works. I’m not mad.
Because of all this, I haven’t been so focused on the dinner plans, and instead I’ve found myself thinking about the things people don’t think to do on Thanksgiving. Sometimes breakfast falls by the wayside, maybe appetizers get overlooked, and so on. Baked goods normally make nice host/hostess gifts, but who honestly wants more food on Thanksgiving? Allow me to offer up a potential solution: nice gift to make for any gatherings you plan to attend, or maybe even just a nice gift for yourself for this weekend.
Biscotti. Before you pshaw my idea, remember: if you’re thinking about store-bought biscotti, that stuff is terrible, and it doesn’t even remotely resemble their home-baked counterparts. Have you ever made biscotti? So easy…virtually impossible to screw up, and once you know the basic ratios, you can add anything you want to it. I made you this one: it’s supposed to resemble fall leaves. It’s got apricot and cherry running through it – two flavors you’re bound to miss from the summer and which also are exceptionally cold-weather appropriate – alongside toasty walnuts, all housed in an almond-tinged dough. Oh, and I dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled them with tiny leaf sprinkles, so there’s that too; a festive touch which you could leave off, but it does make them fun. I used Chocoley for this project, because hey; it makes it easier – their chocolate hardens so rapidly, you won’t have any weird-looking runoff, and they’ll look perfect from all four sides.
Yeah, I know some biscotti is boring: this one is decidedly not. I packed it with things: this dough is at max capacity and I can guarantee that every bite will yield at least one or two nuts and one bite of fruit. One recipe makes 20 to 24 pieces, so if you have several places to go this weekend, grab 4 or 5, package them up and tie them with a bow, and you’re set, with a few leftover for yourself when you get home. They’re the perfect, not-too-sweet treat with your after-dinner coffee, or hey: go wild and eat them for breakfast. They’re also excellent with hot chocolate, which gives the kids something to dip them in. Fun for everyone, as Thanksgiving weekend should be.
Happy holiday week to you! I may see you again before the Big Event, but it depends on how fast Mr. Tables Leftoversgiving comes together. Wishing you a very happy weekend, and good luck to you cooks! Not that you need it, but just remember to breathe, and let yourself enjoy the day: it’s a statistical probability that you massively screw up one dish. Last year, I had to scrape marshmallow ashes off the sweet potatoes, so it happens. You can do this.
Basic dough recipe adapted from Canadian Living Magazine (because Movita Beaucoup sent me their holiday issue one year and it still lives on my cookbook shelf because I love it that much), but I take full credit for the flavors found inside. Oh! This is also the part where I tell you that Chocoley doesn’t pay me for this: I actually really like their product. In fact, I’ve done way more experimenting with melted chocolate things thanks to how easy it is to work with and how beautiful it looks. And the flavor? It’s legit chocolate, people…none of that inferior candy melt stuff. Besides, it’s a family-run small business, and I dig that about them.
Chocolate-Covered Cherry, Apricot, + Walnut Biscotti*
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract (I love Penzey’s almond extract for this; it has less of a candy-like flavor than most)
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup walnuts, rough chopped
- 12 to 14 ounces Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Extra Dark Candy and Molding Formula, for dipping (or use regular dark, or even milk chocolate: this is about you and what you like)
- Mini Fall Leaves edible confetti (which I also received from Chocoley: if you’ve been on their website, you would know that their sprinkle game is TIGHT) – optional, but fun
*I mean it when I say these biscotti could be anything: go wild! The world is your biscotti. To customize, simply switch out a) the extract, b) the fruit, and c) the nuts. I plan to do a future post with some suggestions, but use the ratios and build your own from there: be sure to think about how everything will work together. You can also add citrus zest here too, if you feel like it: I’d go with a max of 2 teaspoons for this recipe.
And a little side note, to make sure you see it. I mention this at the bottom, but if you plan to give these as gifts but you make them way ahead of time, I would suggest freezing them (as needed: depends on time frame) without their chocolate coating. A day or two out from gifting, thaw them and then chocolate/sprinkle them: that way the chocolate is fresh, there’s no condensation issues, and everything looks and tastes the best.
Make the biscotti:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until combined. add melted butter and almond extract and stir to combine; mixture should be homogenous.
Add flour mixture into wet ingredients, folding the batter with a rubber spatula until combined. Add in dried fruit and nuts and fold to incorporate: at this point your dough will have a lot going on, so it’s important to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Patience and a firm hand is required, but it’ll get there.
Pat dough into a round ball and divide into two equal parts. Shape each dough into a long rectangle – 10 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide – on the prepared sheet pan (it’s much easier to work directly on the pan versus transferring after the fact). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove and transfer entire pan to a wire rack for 10 minutes.
TURN YOUR OVEN TEMPERATURE DOWN TO 300˚F. I don’t mean to yell that, but if there’s one thing I forget to do in recipes, it’s to turn the oven down when I’m supposed to.
Once cooled sightly, carefully (support the biscotti!) transfer one loaf to a cutting board. Using a large, sharp, thin knife (I like a Santoku for this), slice into 3/4-inch slices at a 45-degree angle. Have a slightly damp towel at the ready for wiping the blade: a crumb-free blade makes for clean slices. Lay each biscotti (biscotto?) cut-side down on your prepared sheet pan (like the sheet pan the biscotti loaves just came off of). Leave a 1/2 inch or so between them: they won’t expand any more, but they need a little breathing room. Repeat with the other biscotti loaf.
Slide the pan back in the oven and bake for another 20 to 22 minutes until biscotti are crisp; not darkened, but they’ll be firm, like a crispy cookie. Remember they firm up even more once cooled, and you don’t want people breaking their teeth on them. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dip the biscotti:
Here’s where you listen to me, because I really have my dip game down. First, throw any sheet pan large enough to hold all your finished biscotti in the freezer for 10 minutes. Line it with parchment when it comes out.
In the meantime, melt your chocolate according to directions: it’s a simple heat the water in a double boiler / remove from heat /set chocolate in on top of the double boiler to melt / stir process…you know the drill. When it’s ready, transfer the top of the double boiler to your work area and grab a regular spoon, which you’ll use with the chocolate. Pour sprinkles into a small bowl (they’re easier to sprinkle with your fingers versus shaking them out of the jar). Make sure everything in your work area is a) ready for action and b) arranged in a reasonable and practical way.
Remove your frozen sheet pan and line with parchment. One by one, take the cooled biscotti and hold it at the top. Hold the biscotti over the top of the double boiler and use the spoon to scoop and pour the liquid chocolate over all sides of the biscotti bottom, coating maybe the bottom 2 inches of it, turning it round to make sure everything is completely coated. Once that’s done, hold it vertically and wiggle it to shake off any excess chocolate drips – this keeps the chocolate from making a mess and also keeps crumbs from getting in the chocolate below. Hold the biscotti over the prepared sheet pan, grab some sprinkles in your pinched fingertips, and sprinkle it over all sides of the biscotti, rotating until it’s decorated the way you want. Set onto the baking sheet. Repeat until everything is coated and decorated, then place entire pan in the fridge or freezer to completely set for about 15 to 20 minutes…it goes pretty fast.
Once set (and as long as your house isn’t achingly hot or humid) these can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 week – or two, but I prefer to freeze them if they’re going to be out any longer than that. Alternatively, if you ARE making these enough ahead of time that you know you’ll be freezing them, I’d suggest freezing them without their chocolate. When you’re ready to package them up, simply remove, thaw, and cover in chocolate.