When I worked as a special needs teacher aide, our staffroom took treats – especially Christmas treats – very seriously.
Every week someone was on morning tea duty, and when Christmas rolled around we had a blast decorating our staffroom, organising Secret Santa gift exchanges, planning our feast, and handing out special goodies with our Christmas cards. I still miss the caramel tart one of the guys used to make. I can see it now…
The first year I was there I wanted to do something different and decided on a festive green-and-red display of crunchy biscuitiness that no-one else would be doing. I still remember my whole dining table covered in biscotti slices, cellophane wrap, and ribbon, and the mild panic I felt when there wasn’t an even number to put into the bags.
Everybody loved it though, and the recipe made such a huge amount that there was easily enough for everyone, so I started making it every year, even when I changed jobs.
I’ve changed it up over the years, experimenting with glace cherries, orange zest, pistachios, dried strawberries, rosemary – anything red and green and festive-flavoured. The original recipe was based on this one from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, and I often go to Martha for holiday recipes and entertaining whatnot.
Oh I should mention (speaking of mild panic) – I did hand a version of these out last year and I had cut them a little thick, so I worried for ages afterward that I hadn’t sent a little note to the recipients alongside to let them know they could dip them in their coffee or a little Italian wine in case they didn’t know. For weeks after I was expecting to find out on Facebook they were having expensive dental surgery, and I ended up just assuming that nobody ended up eating them, haha. Food paranoia at its finest.
Key Takeaway: cut them quite thin, if you can!
They look so pretty though, yeah?! I was pretty stoked to find gold and white sparkly sprinkles in the supermarket last year, we’ve come such a long way from Dollar Fives.
So feel free to doctor them up with whatever you have in your kitchen, or whatever flavour combinations you think would be good! Milk chocolate would be awesome, as would white chocolate if you swing that way. I’ve done them with and without chocolate, but these have that little somethin’-somethin’ you need at Christmastime, amirite?!
Dark Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed Biscotti
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 3 cups plain flour (plus extra for the bench)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- zest of 1 large orange
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 250g dark chocolate
- Sprinkles or other decorations
- Preheat oven to 180C/375F and line two large baking trays with a mat or baking paper.
- Place the cranberries and water in a small bowl and leave for 15 minutes until they rehydrate – you can skip this step, but they’re nicer this way.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
- In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar (you can use a mixer for this). When light and fluffy, add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and orange zest to the butter, sugar and eggs and mix.
- Gently mix in the flour mixture.
- Add in your DRAINED cranberries, and your greenery (in this case, pumpkin seeds), and mix.
- Divide the dough into two, and shape each piece into a flat kind of log on the tray as in the photos above. You want to be able to make them wide enough to make large biscotti.
- If you’re making these without the chocolate, you can brush them at this stage and sprinkle them with some crunchy sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool on wire racks until you can handle them without burning yourself!
- With a bread knife, cut diagonally into slices a little less than a centimetre wide and place on your prepared trays from earlier.
- Bake again for 30 minutes, but do keep an eye on them – you want them to be crispy, but not blackened! Maybe turn the oven down if you’re worried at any stage.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Heat the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave and dip your biscotti into it however you want.
- Lay on prepared trays and sprinkle over with edible glitter, sprinkles, or other decorations
- Leave until cool/set!