vrijdag 30 november 2007

Gingerbread townhouse cake -part 2

The cake is done! And on its way to 2 dozen weekend-working collegues who are going to perform the taste-test :o).
If you want to give the cake a go yourself, go to http://www.marthastewart.com for the recipe and instructions and tell me what you think.

As I wrote before, I was quite well prepared for finishing this cake. I had the genoise in the freezer (it held up beautifully) the daquoise at hand (you can definately keep it for more than one day, unlike the recipe states), the soaking syrup in the fridge and all cookie decorating finished. What was left was making the buttercream and constructing the cake. So I read the directions twice, and started the buttercream. I have to confess I don't have a lot of experience with buttercream, as it's not the first type of filling I turn to when making a cake. I prefer ganache and pastry cream type fillings over buttercream, but you have to venture out and be open to new things, and a gingerbread-flavored buttercream can only be good, right?
So I started heating up eggwhites and sugar in a double boiler. I was armed with my candy thermometer and followed the instructions to the letter. Let it warm up sufficiently, then started beating the crap out of it in my beloved stand mixer (that deserves the name 'thunderbird' for the noise it produces, but is simply THE best ever). It behaved as promised, turned paler, thicker, stiffened up nicely, only, after 15 minutes it didn't seem very cool. It wasn't much cooler after 20 minutes either. What to do? According to the recipe it should be ready for adding butter at this point, and being nervous of overbeating the stuff, I hesitantly started adding the butter. More so, because the recipe said that if the mixture gets too cold, it might curdle. Definately didn't want to deal with that. So I added the butter by the tablespoon as directed, and it looked all fine and dandy, except it still wouldn't cool.
This is when I started to get the icepacks and wet towels out. It didn't help one bit. I don't know what it was, but it stayed warm and when all the butter was added I had a soupy concoction at hand (granted, it tasted great). I tried to calm myself down, having visions of running to the store yet again and buying yet another dozen of eggs and 2 lbs of sugar. I figured I had nothing to loose and put the whole bowl in an ice bath, stirring gently. It got more manageable, never curdled or broke down, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and started slathering it on, waiting for disaster to strike. And guess what, it was all fine and it just stiffened up beautifully in the fridge. Victory!!

After this ordeal, I noticed time was running away from me. I still had to bake the last batch of cookie dough I made earlier that morning, before my oven was hauled out of the house for a check up (WHAT was I thinking?). And of course the oven had to be cool again and cleaned before pick up. So I baked cookies, ran around frantically trying to clean up the kitchen that looked like a battlefield at that point, while at the same time trying to look in control when waving at the neighbor who was looking at what I was doing from outside the window ;o).
I got it done, everything looked reasonably normal and tidy, when with 15 minutes left before the repair guys came, I thought I'd better unplug the oven. Then I couldn't find the plug. I called my husband at work, who told me I needed to look for the plug in the basement. When I did just that, I remembered we had recently covered the pipes and cords and all that pretty stuff with a piece of plywood twice my size. It was screwed in position with what seemed like 79 screws. At this point, I was in hyperventilation mode. My husband was trying to calm me down, telling me to give it a try and if I couldn't manage, he'd jump into the car that very moment and be over to rescue me. So I got going, screwing as if my life depended on it. I somehow managed to move all the boxes in front of the darned wall, get the board down without breaking it or hurting myself (don't ask me how I did it), and finding the plug. Of course I couldn't reach it and I climbed on a rather wonky construction, stuck my hand into a cobweb-covered black hole, trying to find the plug. And I did, thankfully. I banged my head and was covered in cobwebs, but I did it a full three minutes before the arranged pick up time.
I washed my face, combed my hair, tried to look in control once again and calmly made myself a cup of tea ;o).

Is it even necessary to say that the pick up only happened TWO FULL HOURS LATER? That I tried to decide whether I could start that cranberry curd, to use up some of the 21 egg yolks in my fridge, or not, for two hours? I guess everything worked out eventually, but that was one crazy day. The curd turned out, the cookies turned out, the cake was in the fridge, and the oven got picked up. Now I'm left with a big hole in the oven cabinet and the kitchen is just empty without the oven. Of course I can only think of dinner options that need to be prepared in the oven. And I want to bake bread and scones and everything else like I will never get another chance. It's official: I'm really crazy.

But, this is getting awfully long and I still haven't talked about finalizing the cake. The thunderbird was in full swing again this morning at 6.00 a.m., whipping up a batch of 7-minute frosting (again that didn't cool, what's up with that??). I slathered it onto the cake that still looked in fine shape, pressed in the cookies, took a few snapshots, listened to my husband who was insisting he was running late, made breakfast and hauled husband, cake and breakfast into the car and drove off.
So what have I learned in the proces?
1. Selling a house is stressful
2. Selling a house is awfully stressful
3. Preparing for a possible move is extremely stressful
4. Do not make this zillion-component cake when you don't have a lot of time on your hands.
5. Do not try to bake another batch of cookies 15 minutes before your oven gets hauled off the house. There WILL be other occasions.
6. I still love to bake, it keeps me both sane and insane :o).

Without further ado: here's the master piece:

donderdag 29 november 2007

Gingerbread townhouse cake -part 1

As soon as I received the december issue of Martha Stewart Living and saw the cake on the cover, I knew I HAD to make it. It is beyond gorgeous. I have always loved gingerbread and have made so many houses and other structures I lost count, but what did it for me this time was that the cookies surrounding the cake reminded me of Amsterdam town houses. So I looked up the recipe in the magazine without even looking at anything else. And there it was in all its glory. Three different frostings (gingerbread buttercream, 7-minute forsting and royal icing), two different cake components (a genoise and a walnut daquise) and of course, the cookies, which are made from two different doughs.
Almost 40 eggs and over 3 lbs of butter. Now is that impressive or what??

The hard part was finding an occasion to make it for. I couldn't justify two people having a sliver of cake, not knowing what else to do with the rest, looking at these ingredients. But then, Marco had to work three weekends in a row, and his collegues make a perfectly sized group for sharing. Plus, they love baked goods :o).
So I got going. I prepared the genoise Sunday, and *loved* the recipe, judging on the scraps I tried. It's in the freezer now, and we'll see how it held up tomorrow. Then I got going on the cookies, and honestly, they were a pain in the you-know-what to make. Two kinds of doughs, that need to be mixed, chilled, rolled out, frozen, cut out, frozen, decorated with windows, refrozen, and baked. A dozen cookies took me almost three hours and they weren't even decorated at that point. I ran into a little trouble with these cookies. YOu are instructed to cut out windows and doors to decorate the cookies with, contrasting the types of dough to create more interest with the different colors. What should have been noted though, is that the dough for the windows should be rolled THINNER than the dough you cut your templates out of, because the thicker windows distort the cookie shapes when baking. I swear, the minute I saw it happening, I was reminded of the same problem I had with these cookies that have appliqué dough as well (also Martha Stewart ;o))
But, as I said, it was only until I saw my cookies bend out of shape that I remembered having seen this before. And I wasn't about to spend another three hours on 12 cookies. So I tried to cut somewhat cleaner edges, and froze them.
Today I got them out and decorated with royal icing, and I have to say, in spite of the fact that they are prone to breaking on top of everything else, they are so cute that all is forgiven :o).
Here are the results, pictured next to the cookies in the magazine:
So that leaves the buttercream for tomorrow, as well as the construction of the cake. The daquise layers are also ready to go (and they gave me grief also, one has broken into more shreds than I care to mention), and I'm determined to make this a succes. So determined, that I'm getting up at 5.30 a.m. on Saturday to make the 7 minute frosting and get the cookies up before Marco leaves for work around 6.45.
And after that, I'm afraid I'll have to come up with some baking solution, as my oven will be removed from our house for a repair tomorrow.
What in the world am I going to do with myself without an oven?? And if nothing else, I need to keep up with my blog! The last word hasn't been spoken on this issue yet, that's for sure!

zaterdag 24 november 2007


I found this bread in a German magazine and knew it would probably make a good alternative to stollen (which I happen to love and Marco hates ;o)). It's a yeasted bread, filled with a mixture of cherry jam, dried cherries, an apple and nuts. And very easy for such a festive outcome, I must say, even more so if you have a powerful standmixer that will do your kneading for you. I liked the result so much that I'll post the recipe here:

Kirsch-Nuss-Striezel (cherry nut bread)

1 scant cup whole milk, warmed (225 ml)
1.5 oz fresh yeast, or 1.5 envelopes dried yeats (42 g fresh)
4 TBS butter, melted (50 gr)
3.5 cups flour (400-450 gr)
salt, to taste
1/4 cup sugar (50 gr)
1 egg
1/2 c walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (75 gr)
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped (200 gr)
2 TBS cherry jam (40 g)
2 oz dried cherries (50-75 gr)

1 egg yolk, for glaze

Crumble yeast into luke warm milk, add melted butter and egg and stir to break up the egg yolk. Mix flour, salt and sugar, then add wet ingredients. Knead until smooth and pliable, adding more flour of dough is very sticky. (I used my stand mixer and let it go for 5-10 minutes, I could see the dough improve during kneading).
Let dough rise in an oiled. covered bowl in a draft free space until doubled in volume (approx. 45 minutes).
Roll out dough on floured counter, into an 8 by 24 inch rectangle (20*60 cm). Spread filling onto dough and roll up jelly-roll style. Cut dough in half, and intertwine two halves into 'braid'-like shape.
Let rise for another 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°(convection setting) or 400° upper/lower heat. (175°C convection / 200°C upper/lower heat). Bake for 35-40 minutes, if bread browns to quickly, drape foil over to prevent from overbrowning. Bread is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped.


vrijdag 23 november 2007

Chocolate makes you happy!

This week we got a call from or realtor, telling us we might have sold our home. That's right, MIGHT. We know for sure in about 3 weeks, but this time things might actually work out. I was in denial for three days, determined to not let this get to me, as the last time we heard a message like this, it ended up not being true after all, and I didn't enjoy that rollercoaster ride much.
But all of the sudden, it hit me that *if* this time it's for real, I have a heck of a lot of work to do. And probably months and months ahead of me in a rental house without an oven. So yes, I did start to pack a little (how many baking related things can a person have??), but I'm also determined to make the most of the time I have left with my treasured oven :o).
As Marco has to work again Saturday morning, I decided he and his collegues needed a real pick-me-up and I went all out with a decadent chocolate cake.

The recipe for the chocolate cake was recommended by Heather (and I trust every word she sais after that awesome shortbread recipe), and the frosting came highly praised by Marie Louise. The frosting, together with a cake that resembles the one I tried, can be found at the Scharffenberger website. I'll post it here as well:

That Chocolate Cake

This recipe is from the book The Essence of Chocolate, Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate (Hyperion, 2006), the story of Scharffen Berger chocolate. The introductory notes say, “If you could only have one recipe for chocolate cake, this would be the one.” With a recommendation like that, how could we not share it with you?



Unsalted butter and flour for pans
2 cups granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Scharffen Berger unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
5 ounces Scharffen Berger 99% Cacao Unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Cake:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment and the sides of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed. Min in the eggs, oil, and milk.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the water. The batter will be soupy.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely.

When the cakes have cooled, check the frosting. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If it is still too thin, allow it to cool longer.

For the Frosting:

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla.

To Frost the Cake:

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a hot palette knife or icing spatula to give the frosting a beautiful shine. Run the knife under hot tap water and dry with a towel. Spread about ¾ cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, heating the knife again as necessary.

Serves 8 to 10

Doesn't the name alone make you want to run into the kitchen and try it? Anyway, I lucked out and found Lindt unsweetened chocolate while doing some grocery shopping this morning, and that pretty much sold the deal. I was a little suspicious (I seem to be suspicious often when baking, LOL!) of the cup of boiling water that needed to be added, as well as the 2 1/2 cups of sugar my recipe called for, but I always make a recipe as written the first time I try it. The cakes baked up beautifully, in spite of my inferior 9' cake pans. I can't believe that I have a zillion pans, and do not own a decent 9' cake pan, but I digress. I made the frosting, and was suspicious again, as it looked somewhat soupy. But after an hour or so, it had a nice consistency, and I used it to frost the cake. I spread beautifully into a shiny, smooth layer, and the smell of the cake and the chocolate frosting is just intoxicating. I thought it looked a little naked with just the frosting, so I sprinkled it with chocolate curls, and the result is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. So I suspect that even if they have to work on the weekend, some people will be pretty happy tomorrow. And so am I, now that I'm smelling of chocolate myself, after what might be one of my last rendez-vous with my oven :o).

dinsdag 20 november 2007

Thank you hearts

So tomorrow is the day when two collegues and I say 'goodbye' to our current department at work. We'll still be working for the same institution, but it's a big change nonetheless. One that needs to be marked with a small gathering and a small token of our thanks to the people we've worked with in the past 4 years. I thought cookies would be appropriate, and hearts the perfect shape, to say 'thanks'. So here is the result after three nights of baking: almond filled cookies:

And brownie hearts:

Filled speculaas hearts:

And shortbread/sugar cookies dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with hazelnuts:

I'm hoping the people at work will enjoy them and have a sweet little moment with the cookies :o).

For good measure, I'm adding the recipe for the brownie hearts, which came from the Martha Stewart site:

Brownie hearts and brownie bits
Makes 12 hearts
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

After you cut out the hearts, roll the brownie leftovers into bite-size morsels. Once coated with cocoa or sugar, they resemble truffles. You'll get about forty-four bites.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar, colored sugar, cocoa, or crushed toffee bits, for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom, and press it onto the buttered surface. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. If the chocolate is not softened, continue to microwave at 10-second intervals, removing before it's completely melted.

2. Beat eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate with a wooden spoon. Beat in flour and salt. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.

3. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn the brownie cake out onto a baking sheet, and flip over onto a work surface. Cut out the brownies with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust with cocoa if you like. Form the scraps into 1-inch balls, and roll them in the coating of your choice.

Variations: If you don't have a heart-shaped cutter, you can cut the brownies into squares or other shapes. If you like, add one cup chopped nuts to the batter, or decorate the top of each brownie with a whole pecan or walnut.

zondag 18 november 2007

All kinds of baking

I tried a lot of new recipes and yet I don't have even one picture to show for it, but I can still report on my progress ;o).

Yesterday we had invited friends over for dinner, and I found this recipe for the cutest little appetizer quiches in Fine Cooking magazine (it's in number 82 and I promiss you this issue of one of the best ever published). You basically make a traditional filling of bacon, leeks, eggs and cream, and use puff pastry for the crust. The puff pastry is rolled out, cut into small circles that fit the wells of mini-muffin tins, filled with a tablespoon of filling and then frozen. You bake them frozen, and in 25 minutes you have a very festive looking appetizer, best of all, it was really delicious. We were so enthusiastic about it we're going to try it with different fillings (we love salmon-broccoli) and make sure we have a stash in the freezer with the holidays approaching and all.

For dessert, I made a classic crumb cake, also from a Fine Cooking magazine. I always find crumb cakes a little on the dry side, and wanted to put a layer of pureed apricot in between the cake and crumb part. I think apricot is the perfect tangy counterpart for cakes like this, but, I ran out! There wasn't an apricot left in the house (not even a can! the horror!), so I had to improvise and filled half with a seedless forest fruit jelly, and the other half with an apricot jam that didn't have any sugar added. The result was decent, but I know I would have *loved* it with apricots. Will make it again the *right* way (grin).

Then, I have this bake-a-thon coming up because two of my collegues and I are switching departments at work and there's a little 'goodbye' thing going on wednesday in our current department. So I've decided to bake heartshaped cookies, bag them in pretty cellophane bags and add a tag that says 'a heartfelt thank you'. I'm making chocolate dipped sugar cookies, heart shaped brownies (both are ready in the freezer), and heart shaped filled speculaas and almond filled cookies (see earlier post). I'm definately taking pictures of the whole project, so that report will follow sometime this week.

Then it will be time to think about the holidays, and my nephew's 10th birthday. It is my honor to make him treats to hand out at school every year, and it gets harder and harder to come up with something original. It must be some kind of cupcake with a nice decoration, but after the ones I've done I'm running out of ideas. If you have any, please don't be shy! For good measure, I'm adding a few of the treats I baked for earlier birthdays, so this entry won't go picture-less after all. First are jungle cupcakes:

Next up: snowmen cupcakes (sorry for the bad picture):

And reindeer cupcakes:

Last, a couple of birthday cakes for him:
Pirate ship:

And dragon cake:

zondag 11 november 2007

Caramel macadamia nut chocolate tart

As I said before, a caramel macadamia nut tart also was part of the weekend cooking and baking fest. I made this for dessert, for a lasagna, salad and tomato bread diner party. Somehow we ended up with other guests than planned, but it turned out to be a very nice evening anyway :o). This tart comes from Fine Cooking magazine, issue 82, which I think is one of my favorite issues ever. The lasagna took a long time to prepare, but was worth every minute. And I knew this tart couldn't be anything else than a winner when I saw the recipe. You make the crust, completely bake it, then prepare the caramel, sprinkle toasted nuts on, let cool, and prepare the chocolate layer. Before serving, you whip up some heavy cream and creme fraiche and sprinkle with additional nuts. I really liked the tart, but thought the chocolate was a little overpowering to the caramel, which could have shined more (it was delicious on its own, with the pronounced vanilla flavor and the nuts). But, when I added the dollop of cream (which I usually avoid as much as I can), it surprisingly came together perfectly. It mellowed the chocolate out a little bit, making it more balanced. Still, the caramel was a little washed out by the rest. I think the 70% chocolate was a bit much, and 50-60% would have been better, but all in all, it was a lovely dessert. I didn't hear any complaints for that matter.
Next week I'm definately trying other desserts from the same issues, because one is more tempting looking than the next! Stay tuned :o).

Tomato-garlic bread

Yesterday I made this wonderful tomato-garlic bread, that I found in one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. The book has a basic recipe for yeasted bread, followed with flavoured variations on this master recipe. I make this variation often as a small appetizer before dinner, and serve it with herbed butter, olive tapenade or a bread dipper. It makes a great sandwich too, or, lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled, a perfect starting point for bruschetta.

The recipe starts with roasting 2 lbs of tomatoes, fresh basil and a bulb of garlic (drizzled with oil seasoned with salt and pepper) in the oven for an hour, so some planning is essential. After roasting, the mixture is pureed and to be used as the liquid in the basic recipe. I sometimes add sliced sun dried-tomatoes for an extra flavour boost.
One recipe yields two loaves, but yesterday I discovered I still had half a batch of the pureed tomato mixture in my freezer, so I made 9 small rolls, which was a beautiful presentation also. It saved me so much time I'll always roast double batchesw of tomatoes now to freeze and have on hand whenever the mood strikes. Oliver bakes them in tomato cans, which also looks festive, but I never tried that variation. I never seem to have enough empty cans on hand ;o). The bread has a wonderful soft texture, stays fresh for at least a day and also freezes beautifully.

zaterdag 10 november 2007

Macadamia dulce de leche biscotti

As I announced in my previous post, Silvana passed on the most yummy-looking recipe for biscotti, and seeing it has three of my favorite ingredients that make a combination I just adore, I knew I had to try it. Unlike the 'dunking' biscotti kind that can be bone dry (and lovely, don't get me wrong), this recipe includes a stick of butter, which I think makes them more of a decadent American cookie and less biscotti-like, taste-wise, if that makes sense. Anyway, she was kind enough to let me share the recipe here as well, so without further ado, here are my new favorite not-so-biscotti-like biscotti:

Macadamia Dulce De Leche Biscotti
2 ⅓ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1tsp bp
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ c macadamia nuts roughly chopped
1 c commercial white chocolate chopped aprox ½ inch pcs (Use the cheaper commercial kind if you want dulce; it caramelizes while baking and toasting Lindt and the better stuff not so much!)
1 c dried cranberries (or apricots) plumped in vanilla vodka (or alcohol of choice)
¼ lb (1 stick) of butter at room temp
1 ¼ c sugar (I used just 1)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 375
In a bowl stir together dry ingredients.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
In a small bowl, lightly whisk eggs, then add to butter mixture in a slow steady stream
add any leftover vodka, and incorporate briefly
Fold in flour in 3 additions just till incorporated
lightly fold in nuts and fruit
Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment and scoop dough out with spatula onto baking sheets equally in long logs
Wet hands and smooth down sides and top of logs flattening as you go to about ½ thick. Logs will spread while baking. Leave at least 3” space around them (keep wetting hands as you go; it prevents the soft dough from sticking.
Bake logs in preheated oven until a light gold color about 18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board as soon as cool enough to handle slice with a sharp knife into slices ½ inch wide. Arrange back onto the parchment lined sheet, making sure to leave room between the slices. Bake until lightly toasted and the edges start to turn golden. Let cool completely on the baking sheet

Just a few notes to this recipe: I soaked my cranberries in brandy I have been infusing with vanilla beans and it added a nice touch. The cookies are on the sweet side because of the white chocolate (I just chopped a large block of white Lindt chocolate), but to me, the combo with the macadamia's and the cranberries is nothing short of perfect. I love them (as did my husband).
And after learning our house didn't sell after all, what's a girl to do but do some mean therapeutic baking and cooking? So a report on Jamie Oliver's tomato bread and a Macadamia nut-caramel-chocolate tart (Fine Cooking magazine), which were on the menu also, will appear here shortly. And before anyone starts to worry: we didn't finish all these goodies just between the two of us. Everything was shared and much appreciated :o).

zaterdag 3 november 2007

Cookies, cookies

After a frantic week of possibly selling our house, and possibly not having sold it after all (we still don't know), preparing for an open house that was planned before all the hectic set in, I tried to calm myself with baking. It always does the trick, plus, there's the added bonus of a lovely smelling house :o).

Again, my inspiration came from the Fine Cooking forum, and, of the Fine Cooking magazines. I found a biscotti recipe that called for apricots and lots of ginger, and knew I would make my mom pretty happy with those, so I decided to give it a try. Let's just say Silvana inspired biscotti baking (thanks Silvana, and I'm trying your macadamia nut biscotti soon!)

The recipe is out of FC 75, the cookies are called gingerbread biscotti.

10 oz (2 1/4 c) AP flour
1 1/4 c packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I used cloves, I hate nutmeg)
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 oz (1 c)pecans coarsely chopped
4 oz dried apricots (1/2 c) coarsely chopped
1/4 c molasses
2 large eggs
2 tsp finely grated orange zest.

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine floour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, ginger and mix to combine. On low speed, briefly mix in pecans and apricots.

In a measuring cup, mix eggs, molasses and orange zest. With mixer on low, slowly pour in egg mixture. Mix until well blended and dough comes together in moist clumps, 1-2 minutes. Divide dough in two equal piles and shape into 10 by 1 1/2 inches logs. Shape with floured or slightly wet hands (dough is sticky). Position logs 4 inches apart and bake 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool on rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Slice with serrated knife into diagonal slices, 3/4 inches wide. Bake another 10-20 minutes on baking sheet, to desired dryness. Store in airtight containers after cookies have completey cooled.

My notes: the second bake I only baked them for 10 minutes, yet they are quite crunchy. Seeing the recipe has no butter, I think they'll end up bone dry no matter what. The flavor is excellent though. A really wintery, spicey cookie. I think that dipping in bittersweet chocolate would be a nice addition, but they are good without as well.

Next up were the dark chocolate crackle cookies, out of the latest FC issue (I can assure you this recipe is worth the prices of the magazine all by itsself).
The recipe calls for cocoa, melted chocolate, and chocolate chips and adds orange zest for some extra flavor and interest. The end result is a deeply chocolatey cookie, with a hint of orange. This is definately on my list of new favorites (I'm so psyched to have discovered so many of those since starting this blog!). Karen told me she used espresso instead of the orange, and I'm trying that the next time I'm making them, as I know it will be a fantastic flavor combination. So without much more ado, here are the cookies, dressed up for festive occasions :o).

I bet these would make a great Christmas gift!

Hopefully, in the next week we'll learn more about the house selling or not, so until then, please send some house-selling vibes our way!!