Sometimes cooking with a friend is therapeutic. In fact, I think it’s at its best when it has this effect. The other day, Suzy and I cooked and laughed so much that my ribs ached (of course they had a head start from my 5-week cough).
We touched base that morning, with no particular plan to cook. We had each been out of sorts as of late — she with a pinched nerve in her neck and I with a never-ending cough. We were two borderline pathetic friends, not sure what to do while our toddlers were in school. I pondered the idea of holiday shopping but controlled the urge. So, why not do some baking? Suzy wanted to make pumpkin scones to bring to her mother for Thanksgiving and I was in the mood for biscotti.
It was a good thing we decided to bake at my house. Within seconds, flour, eggs, baking soda, pans and bowls were strewn about every inch of my countertops. We laughed at how Suzy — ordinarily a very neat and clean cook — wouldn’t have been able to handle such a disaster in her house. While we mixed, molded and baked our scones, the scent of pumpkin and cinnamon soothed our weary souls.
We moved onto chocolate chip biscotti and decided that while everything was out anyway, we might as well throw in another batch of something. We couldn’t grasp the concept of making another mess after this one was cleaned up! So we just added to it.
With some pumpkin left from our scones, I ambitiously suggested pumpkin spice biscotti and I was on a mission to create our own recipe. Suzy, a self proclaimed recipe follower, was skeptical since earlier that day, she “Googled” pumpkin biscotti and came up with doggie biscuits! We started with some basic proportions, added a bit more baking soda and a conservative amount of pumpkin puree. We did a bit of a dance as we created — I prefer the maximum flavor while Suzy tends to be a tad more conservative. If I want a teaspoon of cinnamon, she wants a half. So, we compromise, even if, as Suzy says, ¾ teaspoon is an inconvenient measurement.
It was a hilarious time together. As our pumpkin experiment baked, we did a quick cleanup, made a cup of tea, and savored a few moments enjoying a freshly baked pumpkin scone. We nervously peeked into the oven every few minutes to see if our logs were firming. The clock was ticking fast and our biscotti hadn’t even begun their twice bake. Suzy had to leave before they were finished. And as she walked out, she jokingly apologized for leaving me alone in “biscotti hell”.
If that was hell, it wasn’t that bad! I finished our creation with a drizzle of white chocolate and dropped off Suzy’s share later that evening. The next morning, as I sipped my morning coffee and checked e-mail, I saw a message from Suzy titled “And the winner is. . .” I couldn’t wait to open her e-mail to read the results. “We hit a home run!” said it all.
Pumpkin Biscotti with White Chocolate Drizzle
Makes 2 dozen
These biscotti won’t last long in your cookie jar. Although they can be made year round, they are perfect for the Fall months when pumpkin is seasonal. A white chocolate drizzle adds the finishing touch to the subtle pumpkin taste in these crunchy, flavorful cookies. Package them up as gifts, keep around for guests and or bring them to a holiday cookie exchange.
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, another for egg wash
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup pumpkin puree
3 ounces white chocolate chips
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix in the butter, vanilla, eggs, sugar and pumpkin puree. Transfer mixture to a well floured parchment paper lined surface and bring dough together in a ball. Separate into two pieces and mold into logs approximately 6-8 inches long and 1 ½ – 2 inches wide, pressing down until the dough is about an inch thick. For smaller biscotti, you can form three logs. Brush the top and sides of the logs with egg wash (slightly beaten egg).
Bake in the center rack of the oven for approximately 30 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes. When cooled, slice into pieces ¼ inch thick on a diagonal. Place the cookies flat side down and bake for about 10 minutes. Flip once and bake the other side for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Melt chocolate chips and place in a small zip loc bag. Cut a hole in the corner and dirzzle over biscotti. Allow the chocolate to harden and store the biscotti in an airtight container for several weeks.