almond biscotti

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It’s December 26, and I am completely overdosed on cookies. At this point, I basically never want to see another reindeer shaped sugar cookie again (don’t worry, these feelings go away quite quickly). However, I still have a sweet tooth that needs satisfying. These biscotti do the trick.

To me, biscotti has always seemed like an adult thing. Dry, crumbly, and barely sweet, these cookies are made for coffee, something I did not appreciate earlier in my life. However, now I have realized that biscotti is actually the cookie’s more flavorful, sophisticated cousin. This almond version is delicious. Once again, Cook’s Illustrated has created a superior recipe. With a prominent but not overwhelming almond flavor and a gentle sweetness, these almond biscotti are a perfect after Christmas treat.

Almond Biscotti

recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

1 1/4 cups whole almonds, divided
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Using a ruler and pencil, draw two 8 by 3 inch rectangles spaced generously apart on the back of a piece of parchment paper. Place the parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Pulse one cup of the almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer to a small bowl. Process the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds in the food processor until ground into a coarse meal. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and process until combined. Transfer to a small bowl.

Add the eggs to the empty food processor and process until the eggs are lightened in color and almost doubled in volume. With the food processor running, slowly add the sugar until combined. Add the butter and extracts and process until combined.  Transfer the egg mixture to a medium bowl and add half of the flour mixture. Fold gently until combined and then repeat with the second half of the flour. Gently stir in the chopped almonds.

Divide the dough in half. Form the dough into two 8 by 3 inch loaves. Brush lightly with egg wash. Bake the loaves in your preheated oven, rotating halfway through, until they are golden and just beginning to crack, 25-30 minutes. Allow the loaves to cool for 30 minutes. Then, slice each loaf on a slight bias into 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slices on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Bake until the slices are golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway through, about 35 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

 

Fresh mint ice cream with chocolate chunks

If you have ever grown mint in a garden, you probably know that mint is easy to care for. In fact, it’s almost too easy – it explodes in growth and takes over other plants. In our garden we have so much chocolate mint (yes, there is a variety of mint with a chocolate flavor – try it!) it’s almost a forest. In an attempt to put the forest to use, I made chocolate mint extract. Then I remembered how fantastic ice cream made with fresh herbs is. This ice cream has a minty freshness you simply can’t get with mint extract. And the chocolate chunks, well, they simply belong. Nothing hits the spot better on a hot day!

fresh mint ice cream with chocolate chunks
recipe adapted from Annies Eats
If you can’t find chocolate mint, normal fresh mint will have a similar flavor.

2 cups whole milk, divided
3/4 cup packed fresh chocolate mint (see note)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 oz. (3 tbsp.) cream cheese, softened
4 oz chopped chocolate

Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, warm 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the milk to just below a simmer. Add the mint and remove from the heat. Cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons milk.
Add the heavy cream, salt, sugar, and corn syrup to the saucepan with the milk and mint. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Stirring constantly, boil the mixture for 4 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the mixture returns to a boil and thickens. Pour the custard through the strainer you got out earlier. Press on the mint leaves to get as much custard as possible into the bowl.
Whisk the cream cheese and vanilla extract into the custard until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. Once chilled, churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Right before the ice cream is done churning, add the chocolate to incorporate. Transfer the ice cream to a container and chill it further until it is scoop able.

banana muffins with chocolate and crystallized ginger

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Never underestimate the power of a good muffin. (Also: never underestimate the power of chocolate). A good muffin is wholesome while still being light and indulgent. With muffins, there is a delicate balance, and if you tip the scale too far, you’ll be in the realm of cupcakes. In these muffins, we keep the scale balanced by using some whole wheat flour.

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The chocolate and crystallized ginger combo may seem strange to you, but it works. The crystallized ginger brings pops of heat and sweetness while the chocolate brings a cool contrast. Together with the banana, they create a muffin much greater than the sum of it’s parts.

banana muffins with chocolate and crystallized ginger

Adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large or 4 small bananas)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (not low fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard muffin tins with liners. Set aside. Melt the butter in a microwave or in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate and crystallized ginger and whisk until well combined. Make sure the ginger clumps have broken up.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs together with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well.

Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently to incorporate. Do not over mix or your muffins will be tough! Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling the cups 3/4 of the way full. Bake the muffins until they are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes. Cool the muffins of a wire rack for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

coconut explosion ice cream

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I think we can all agree that coconut, chocolate, and almond are a dynamite combo. My mom loves coconut so it was only a matter of time before I created something involving this combo for her. I’ve made coconut macaroons and coconut cakes, but this ice cream really raises the bar. It has a coconut milk base with coconut flakes, almonds, and chocolate swirled in. The coconut milk base adds a nice creaminess and coconut feel while the coconut flakes amp up the coconut flavor. The almonds and chocolate add crunch and complete the trifecta. I made this recipe up myself and I must say I am very pleased with how it turned out. You don’t have to love coconut to love this ice cream!

coconut explosion ice cream

Adapted very loosely from David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream

Note: Be sure to chop the almonds and chocolate well because if the pieces are too large thy will damage your ice cream maker. Also, the coconut extract is not essential to the recipe but I like what it adds.

1/2 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
13 oz can coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped well
1/3 cup slivered almonds, chopped well
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Add the milk, sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of the coconut milk to the saucepan and warm the mixture over medium heat (if your coconut milk has separated, add the more watery stuff with the sauce pan and save the creamier stuff for the next step).
Pour the heavy cream and remaining coconut milk into a large bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Once the milk mixture on the stovetop is hot, temper the egg yolks by slowly whisking in the hot milk. Once it has all been incorporated, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (170 degrees on a thermometer).
Pour the custard into the bowl with the heavy cream slowly and whisk to incorporate. Whisk in the extracts. Set the custard in the fridge and allow it to chill completely.
Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker. When it is almost done churning, add the chocolate, coconut flakes, and almonds and churn until they are just incorporated.
Place in the freezer to allow the ice cream to firm up before enjoying!

spinach sun dried tomato risotto

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Risotto is one of my favorite foods ever and we have it a lot, so I was a little shocked when I realized this blog has only one risotto recipe. Plus, it wasn’t even legit (we totally faked it and broke some unspoken rules, like whoa). But that risotto was really good, if not thoroughly italian (so it’s okay).

However, I have decided to up my game and give you guys a real risotto recipe this time. It was a good decision. I’m actually proud of myself because I improvised this recipe with the guidelines of another. Spinach  and tomatoes are a classic combo and they work really nicely  together here.

Check it out! A Honey Blossom has an instagram page and it’s super fun. (here’s the link)

Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Risotto

adapted from the kitchen

note: I used sun dried tomatoes packed in oil but you can also use the dry variety. If you use the oil packed variety, save some of the tomatoey oil to drizzle on the risotto as you serve it. You can also just drizzle on a little olive oil for a similar affect.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup of white wine

6 cups chicken stock

4 cups loosely packed spinach, chopped roughlyy

4 oz sun dried tomatoes (about 10) (see note)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

In a large pot, warm the stock over medium heat. Heat a large dutch oven or high sided sauté pan and add the oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until it is softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the rice and stir until every grain is coated in fat (you may need to add a little more butter or oil). Toast for 2-3 minutes until the edges of each grain begin to look translucent. Add the white wine and simmer until the wine has reduced and the pan is nearly dry (it won’t take long), scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Add a ladle of stock and stir until the rice has absorbed all of the stock. Continue adding stock and stirring until all of the stock is gone and the rice is tender. Add the sun dried tomatoes and spinach and cook until the spinach just wilts. Stir in the butter and parmesan. Serve with extra parmesan and olive/sun dried tomato oil.