cran-walnut rum biscotti with salted dark chocolate


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Happy New Year!

2017 is upon us and every new year causes us all to reflect on the previous year.

The hubs and I have been laying in our pjs all day, wrapped in cozy blankets and watching movies on the couch. Our Christmas tree is half stripped of its ornaments, a lazy attempt to be productive today.

We both agreed that 2016 was a great year, but not without tragedy.

For me personally, I started my new job as a Behavior Analyst for children and teens with Autism. My decision to leave the classroom as a special education teacher to work one-to-one with my current clients was the best choice I have ever made!

This year also brought me to Connect Savannah, a local entertainment newspaper. Meeting the owners and chefs of local Savannah restaurants, hearing their stories and trying their food has been super rewarding. I take this part of my hobby very seriously since I am writing about other people’s lives and businesses. It has been hard work that is very reinforcing.

The hubs and I are also in the process of buying our first home. Our favorite part is that we will have a pool and backyard oasis for ourselves and guests. I am also elated to have a separate {well lit} space for my photography. It beats setting up a make-shift studio on an ironing board between a window and bed in our small guest bedroom. We hope to close by the end of January, I will keep you posted!

While it has been a year of cool new beginnings for me, our family had a tragic ending. 2016 was the year that our 2 year old nephew, Remy, went to be with Jesus. Please take some time to read the story and check out a recipe that I made in his honor: Remy’s Story.

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So a new year, to me, means trying new things.

On this day, January 1st, in 2015, I decided to become A Common Connoissuer and start a food blog. I always loved eating and cooking so it made sense that I document those moments. I could have never imagined that my passion for food would have turned into a passion for food photography. I have gotten to the point now where I select recipes based on how well they will photograph. While I am cooking, I make sure that my veggies are vibrant, my knife cuts are clean and that I leave ingredients aside for the final photo. A far cry from how I used to cook, in my haphazard manner.

This year I bought a Canon Rebel T5i, which has changed my photography greatly. The images are crisp and barely need editing. For Christmas, all I asked for was photography equipment. I could have never imagined that this is where my food blog would take me! I’m obsessed!

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So, since today is New Year’s Day, I decided to try something new. I made Biscotti for the first time! I got the idea from the Great American Baking Show that the Hubs and I have been watching on Hulu. On “Cookie Week” the bakers were asked to make Biscotti for their technical challenge.

The judges mentioned that they wanted the outside of the Biscotti to snap with a soft inside. Challenge Accepted!

My Cran-Walnut Biscotti, with a hint of rum, came out perfect in texture and taste. They have a bumpy appearance, which caused the chocolate to not set as smooth as I would have liked. But it gave them a rustic appearance, which I find charming.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can add any type of nut or extract you would like. Be as creative as you want! Also, guys, it was not that hard at all. Impressive and easy? I’m in. These would have been great Christmas gifts….

ingredients

 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon/orange/lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp rum extract {optional}
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

coarse sea salt for garnish

directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the flour and baking powder in mixing bowl.
  4. Beat the sugar, butter, citrus zest, extracts and salt in electric mixer.
  5. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended.
  6. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries.
  7. Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes.
  9. Cool for 30 minutes.
  10. Place the log on the cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the log into into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices.
  11. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti about 15 more minutes.
  12. Transfer to cooling rack, to cool fully.
  13. Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts.
  14. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Shake off the excess chocolate.
  15. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  16. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

Serve with coffee or milk, dunking is a must!

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Author: A Common Connoisseur

My name is Maria! I'm a vibrant Italian American with a zest for life. I am also a major glutton. Join me on my journey to diverse restaurants and in my kitchen, as I eat and cook my way through flavory fare. I am no expert, which is why I am merely a Common Connoisseur.

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