Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gift Cookies

By now almost all of my family have probably opened their gift from Sweetie and Elle. Since I have quite a few sisters and brothers, it can be a challenge to decide on what to do each year for a gift. Some years each family gets something different. Some years it is all the same. Last year I had a fair amount of time, so the elf got busy and the cookie tins were filled with different kinds of cookies. This year cookies came into it, but in a different way.

When we visited my Mom in Virginny in the fall, I came across a nutmeg grater that was so cute I had to ask her about it. Mom said that it was a souvenir of a trip she and Dad took to Canada...she saw it in a store and had to have it. It grater is metal, curved, with sort of star shaped burrs for the grating part. What is so cute is that on top there is a little holder for a whole nutmeg, complete with a swinging lid. Since that trip was when I discovered the Penzey's spice store, too, I made sure to get her some fresh whole nutmegs to use for the upcoming holiday cooking. She said that she had never seen a grater like it.

It wasn't more than a few weeks after we returned home that I spotted the exact same grater in a store in Sonoma. I was amazed! Driving home I decided that I could make a great Christmas package with the grater, some Penzey's whole nutmegs and some kind of cookie that had nutmeg as a key ingredient. After a fun time looking at cookie recipes online, I found one on the Land O'Lakes site for Eggnog Cherry Biscotti that seemed just right. Since my stash of dried cherries was lower than I had thought, I decided to replace some of them with dried cranberries.

It made a great gift: the grater with a nutmeg in the little compartment, the recipe card for the biscotti tied to the grater with a red ribbon, a snack Ziploc bag with some more whole nutmegs, and another, larger Ziploc bag with the cookies. If I were not going to ship them, I might have drizzled some icing on the biscotti, but the ones I shipped were plain but fruity with a faint eggnog flavor, dry, crunchy and delicious.

Eggnog Cherry Cranberry Biscotti
makes about 3 dozen cookies
a variation of a recipe from the Land O'Lakes website

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line ungreased cookies sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in large bowl. Add butter; beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Increase speed to medium; add eggs and 1 teaspoon rum extract. Beat until well mixed. Stir in the dry fruit by hand.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead 10 to 15 times with lightly floured hands. (I found that the dough was sticky enough that the surface needed a fair amount of flour to keep the dough from sticking while kneading). Divide dough in half; roll each half into 14-inch log. place logs 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet; flatten each log to about 2 inches wide. They will spread a bit during baking. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until set. Cool 10 minutes on cooling rack covered with parchment paper.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F. Remove logs from parchment to a cutting board; cut into 3/4 inch diagonal slices. Lay slices onto same cookie sheet, cut-side down. Bake for 13 minutes. Turn over to other cut side. Continue baking an additional 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely.

10 comments:

Peabody said...

That is a great gift...especially with the little nutmeg grater to boot!

Next sister down said...

Yes, it was a great gift!

Elle, I was going to e-mail you about it and say that I hoped you would put the recipe for the biscotti on your blog, and I see you already have!

First of all, the biscotti were wonderful. I've always loved eggnog, so eggnog biscotti were a treat (of course they didn't last long--they were so good with coffee and, I thought, best eaten as fresh as possible).

And I have also loved fresh nutmeg since younger brother's wife introduced me to it. But I've always had to use a regular grater. This nutmeg grater is so cool. I foresee hot buttered rum in my immediate future, with fresh grated nutmeg. :-)

Thank you so much!

Elle said...

Peabody, yeah, it's a cute little grater.

Next sister, So glad that you liked the grater and cookies...I agreed, best eaten while fresh...and hot buttered rum sounds perfect right now. It's been cold. Happy New Year B!

Beth said...

The biscotti were soooo good. They didn't last long here, either, in this house of coffee addicts.

We're enjoying the freshly grated nutmeg on eggnog (another addiction, but only for a brief period of time each year), so much better than the pre-ground nutmeg in those little jars from the store.

Thank you so much!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

What wonderful gifts! I'll bet they loved them.

Amrita said...

Hi dearie!

I've started a food forum for all floggers and foodies round the world. It just started today, and doesnt have any members yet.I have sent out emails to mose bloggers, though. I really hope you'll join too! It's a place we can discuss food, share recipes, troubleshoot recipes, post pix of stuff we've made etc. I aim to make it a chic environment filled with people who are extremely passionate about cooking and baking.

http://karamel.forumotion.com

thanks a lot! happy new year!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

The biscotti sounds fab. I have a little grater like that. It was one of the first things I was given when I moved into my own home (about 17 years ago now) I don't use it often but love it when I do. I like lifting the little lid to take out the nutmeg. Silly really but nice how small things can mean make one happy.

Hope you've had a good Christmas Elle. Happy New Year to you too.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

That is a cute little nutmeg grater~ I like my eggnog with a little sumpin sumpin and fresh nutmeg on top. Yumm!
Happy New Year Y'all

Brilynn said...

Somehow I haven't had any eggnog this season at all and I've definitely been missing out, these sound amazing!

Elle said...

Beth, So glad you enjoyed to cookies and that the grater is coming in handy for the real eggnog. It's kind of cute, too, isn't it?

Lynn,Thanks! It seems that they did.

Amrita, I'll have to check the forum out. Sounds interesting!

Amanda, It's true...little things can be so meaningful, even if it just to us and no one else. Neat that you have the same grater. The nutmeg is like a little secret.

Sandi,Yes, we had ours for Christmas with a little sumpin sumpin and fresh grated nutmeg. Happy New Year to y'all, too.

Brilynn,T he cookies won't take the place of a good glass of eggnog, but they are yummy. I'll bet it's not too late for some eggnog. Toast the New Year and Dorie!