Grandma’s Soft Spice Biscotti

IMGP9040For about the next week or so, I’ll be bringing you some favorite family recipes from Michigan.  Now it’s my understanding that grandparents are not supposed to pass even remotely healthy recipes down to the grandkids.  They pass down the recipes for cookies and cakes and pies that their mom’s mom made in the farmhouse with butter they churned on the front porch.  Maybe your family doesn’t have farm roots, but we’re Midwest country on both sides going back before the Great Depression.  So when we learn a family recipe, it’s likely to call for a pound of butter and more sugar than your pancreas can handle, but oh man is it worth it.  So fair warning – if you’re looking for healthy recipes these next few posts you are going to be sorely disappointed, because we’re about to embark on a carbo-loaded sugarfest.

The first of these family favorite recipes is Northern Michigan Grandma’s biscotti.  Every grandma seems to have her food that everyone loves and biscotti is this grandma’s specialty.  This biscotti is so famous in the family, in fact, that I had the fortune to not only hear about it, but eat it multiple times before I even met her.

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Now, my main issue with biscotti is that it is usually tough to eat and you need to soak it in coffee before you can break off a piece.  First world problem, I know.  But unlike most biscotti (biscotties?), this kind is soft from the get-go.  It melts in your mouth the instant you eat it.  And when you put it in coffee it’s even softer.  Perfect biscotti, in my opinion.  (Not to undercut her double-baked chocolate cherry biscotti, which is also delicious.)

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So this trip to Michigan meant I had to get this recipe so I could share this wonderful biscotti with you guys.  Apparently biscotti is technically considered a cookie, but I refuse to accept that as my reality because it would mean I had four cookies with breakfast.  No, no, biscotti – and especially this biscotti – is meant to be a breakfast meal.  It also goes well with mid-morning coffee, afternoon tea and/or evening decaf coffee with dessert.  It is cinnamon-y and fall-y and makes your day so much better.  So roll up your sleeves and try this recipe out, I swear you won’t regret it.

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Ingredients:

Makes about 2 dozen biscotti

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Cooking spray

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 (or 370 with the convection setting)
  • Combine the first 9 ingredients (through the eggs) in a large bowl + beat at a low speed for 1 minute
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour + baking powder in a separate bowl
  • Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until well-blended (dough will be soft!)
  • Put dough on a lightly floured surface + shape into 3 6×4 inch rectangles
  • Flatten rectangles to about 3/4 inch thickness
  • Spray baking sheet with cooking spray + place dough rectangles on sheet
  • Bake at 375 for 25 minutes
  • Remove biscotti from baking sheet + place on cutting board
  • Cut each rectangle diagonally into 3/4 inch slices + let cool on rack

Storage tips (because grandmas think of everything): Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. If needed, they freeze well too!

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No Bake Cacao Flax Bars

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I am so excited about these cacao bars!  One of my favorite cafés near us has a delicious cacao flax bar that tastes exactly like a brownie.  My goal has become to replicate this fluffy brown pseudo-brownie for myself.  So I found this recipe on Glowing Communications for “raw brownies” and thought I’d give it a shot.  It’s a pretty simple recipe and the ingredients require no baking.  While I have been downing these bars for a snack and dessert since I’ve made them, I will say that it does not make a fluffy brownie-quality cake, which is why I am calling it a “bar” instead of a “brownie.”  Instead, it has almost a Power Bar, fudge-like consistency.  But honestly, it is fine by me, because it is still delicious and also pretty healthy!  The dates give it a sweet, cherry-like flavor on top of the cacao.  If you want to be a little less healthy with these brownies, throw some chocolate chunks on top like I did for Adam.  Yum!

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I altered the original recipe I found based on what I had in my cupboards.  Mainly, I replaced walnuts with cashews because Adam is somewhat allergic to walnuts (unfortunately).  I also reduced the nut content from two cups to one cup because I am not a fan of super-nutty brownies.  If you love that nutty taste in your brownies, though, go crazy and double the nuts!

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What is great about these “brownies” is that they are totally customizable based on their toppings.  As you can see below, I created rows of different bars with different toppings.  I topped one set with dried cherries, one with chocolate chunks, and kept one plain.  You can even roll them into balls for a quick no-bake chocolate ball to go!  With a snack like this to give me an afternoon pick-me-up without the sugar crash later on, I will definitely be making these again.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews, walnuts or other nuts
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder (or ground down cacao nibs)
  • 1.5 cups pitted dates (about 14)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or 2 vanilla beans)
  • Topping Ideas: cacao nibs, chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts or nut butter

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Directions:

  • Line an 8×8 pan with wax paper.
  • Pit ~14 dates, placing dates in a small bowl and throwing pits in the trash.
  • Combine everything in the food processor except the dates.  
  • While food processor is running, drop dates into chute one at a time.
  • After it is all combined, take mixture and spread it into the pan.  It should be a chunky quality – take your hands and spread it evenly throughout the pan.  
  • Take the toppings of your choice and push them into the tops of the brownies.  If you’re using a nut butter, like almond butter, spread it on top.
  • Refrigerate or freeze until cooled and ready to cut and enjoy!  

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