Hi. It’s been awhile. It’s as if the receding daylight hours and chilled air catapult the days ahead so that sometimes the most pleasurable activities get lost in time’s unforgiving hands. Time really does fly.
The holidays seemed to kick into high gear shortly after Halloween this year. Perhaps one of the several costumed witches that rang our doorbell that night in search of candy unknowingly casted a spell that stripped me of my multi-tasking, busy-bee behaviors that led me to this blog in the first place. As families expand, the holiday season just seems to follow suit (waistlines notwithstanding).
But it’s this recipe that cracked the curse. In the spirit of the season, I’ve been baking a lot — and it hasn’t always been healthy (after all, a Thanksgiving dessert selection just isn’t complete without a little bit of chocolate). I redeem myself with this health-packed concoction that drafts a new player in my baked goods line-up these days – biscotti. Crunchy, subtly sweet, hearty; a perfect vehicle to pack your favorite seasonal ingredients, like these fiber-loaded Pumpkin Cranberry Biscotti made with whole wheat and spelt flours. (Serious Eats just posted a helpful tutorial for using all-purpose flour alternatives.)
‘Tis the season for pumpkin and cranberries. Pumpkin, while a great doorstep ornament for Fall, should not be overlooked for its flavor, versatility and nutrition. Their natural sweetness exalted by large amounts of antioxidants and beta-carotene to help strengthen our immune system and reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. Cranberries contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical that scavenges carcinogens out of our body. They’re packed with 18 compounds that are linked to fighting both infection and inflammation.
While not necessarily seasonal, flaxseed is a great addition or substitute* (see Recipe Note, below) not only in baked goods, but in oatmeal, soup, yogurt, and even chili or meatballs. I substituted some of the flour in the original recipe with ground flaxseed meal to provide heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids and numerous other health benefits. I love putting flax into breads and muffins not only for its nutritional properties, but for the nutty flavor it imparts without actually adding nuts.
This biscotti is both crunchy and chewy at the same time, with notes of ginger and cinnamon that celebrate the holiday season. So don’t feel you need to go to your local coffee-house to taste delicious biscotti; add these to your line-up and you’ll wonder why you didn’t play them sooner.
For those who are following my mission to acquire locally grown and humanely raised foods whenever possible, this winter I’ve joined Farm to City‘s Philadelphia Harvest buying club. I’m able to purchase all types of seasonal produce, meats, grains, dairy and a variety of jams, jelly and honey from a host of local farmers. I choose my purchases each week and buy as little or as much as I need, so there’s less chance of waste and I can even pick out items to make J happy. Every Thursday I pick up my provisions at Suburban Station before jumping on the train home. Check out the hyperlinks in the recipe below for more information on the local farmers.
Pumpkin Cranberry Biscotti
Adapted from Simply Recipe’s Pumpkin Biscotti
Makes about 15 smallish biscotti
- 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup spelt flour
- 1/2 cup ground flax meal
- 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of ginger
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 egg *
- 1/2 cup of cooked pumpkin purée
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cranberries, chopped
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for moisture)
- Bake whole pumpkin at 400 °F for one hour. Allow to cool and then scoop out flesh and mash to make purée.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices into a large bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Add cranberries.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Give it a rough stir to generally incorporate the ingredients. Add the olive oil and mix. The dough will be crumbly.
- Flour your hands and a clean kitchen surface and lightly knead the dough so it comes together.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
- Split the dough in half and form two logs for bite-size biscotti. Loaves should be relatively flat, about 1/2 inch high. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F until edges are slightly brown and center is firm to the touch. (Alternately, you can form the dough into one large log bout 15-20 inches by 6-7 inches and bake for 22-30 minutes).
- Let biscotti cool for 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife cut into 1 inch wide pieces. Turn the oven to 300 F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cool completely.
- Biscotti may be still a tad moist and chewy, so if you prefer it crisp let it sit uncovered overnight in a dry space. Serve and enjoy.
Makes approximately 15 cookies.
* Recipe Note – Flaxseed can be used as an egg substitute to create vegetarian recipes or looking to eat fewer eggs. 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp of water = 1 egg.