Can you believe it’s the last day of November already? I certainly can’t. This was probably the fastest year yet for me, and I don’t even feel like I accomplished anything particularly special this year. I always try to do at least one thing I consider epic- like something that goes toward a personal goal, or something to slash off my bucket list- each year. I don’t feel like I did any of that this year. Sometimes I feel a little like I’m living in limbo for the rest of the year, but when Christmas comes knocking at my door, I let it in and let myself bask in the good feelings. It’s always what I need at year-end because I’m either tired from all the shenanigans I’ve been doing, or I’m just sad I didn’t do enough.
But Christmas, it always brightens up my spirits regardless of what state I may be in at the moment it arrives. And well, these biscotti helped a whole lot too.
These biscotti are one of my favourites that I’ve ever made. I think the secret lies in the lemon zest added into the batter. It created this wonderful burst of lemony and fruity flavours. Every time I open the cookie jar, the lemon scent is just so intoxicating I always end up helping myself to at least two pieces. Add to that the wonderful grittiness given by the cornmeal, and I do believe you have yourself one truly amazing biscotti. And I thought they were even better a couple of days later because all the flavours and the wonderful lemon scent really came out to play by then.
Cornmeal and Fruit Biscotti
adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies | Makes about 30 biscotti
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (5.375 ounces) cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon aniseed, crushed with a mortar (optional)
1 cup (5 ounces) dried fruits of choice (raisins; dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries; or chopped dried apricots)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Position a rack at the center of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Mix together thoroughly with a whisk or a fork.
3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until blended. Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and aniseed (if using). Beat until light and fluffy.
4. Using a spatula, add the flour mixture, stirring until all the ingredients are moistened. Mix in the raisins and/or other dried fruits.
5. With wet hands, shape the dough into a 12-by-2-inch log and place it on the lined cookie sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned and cracked on top. Rotate the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
6. Leaving the oven on, set the pan on a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Slide a metal spatula under the loaf to detach and remove the liner, then transfer the loaf carefully to a cutting board. Using a long serrated knife, cut the loaf diagonally (or vertically) into slices about 3/8-inch wide. If the loaf is too crumbly to cut, let it cool completely before trying again.
7. Transfer the slices to the unlined cookie sheet, standing them at least 1/2-inch apart. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the cookies are barely beginning to brown at the edges, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Set the pan on a rack to cool.
Storing: Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.
Would it be totally out of line for me to implore you to make these for the holidays? I just really believe these are perfect for the season. Just a whiff of them is enough to elicit a smile!