There are times when smells, flavors, voices, songs or lighting can turn into your own personal time machine. Dipping one of these crunchy, not-too-sweet, toasted Gingerbread Spice Biscotti into a cup of tea/coffee/or hot chocolate while listening to Sounds of the Season and gazing at twinkling lights - well - it's your own little sleigh into blissdom.During the snowy, freezing winter months in North Carolina, very often my school bus would be late or gloriously weather bound. School would be canceled and my brother and I would be left to hang out by a warming stove at my Grandmother's farm house. That also meant we would be there for the morning biscuits - hot out of the oven. She would wrap one for each of us in a paper napkin, poke a hole through the top (steam billowing out like a little pastry locomotive) then she'd pour in a drizzle of black strap molasses. I've never had an Italian pastry that could compare or make me giggle as much as standing beside a wood-burning fire, wearing snow-soaked boots and sinking my teeth into that warm, sticky, sweet baked dough-ball.It's the molasses in this biscotti, along with the always smile-provoking spices of nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon that make this little toasted cookie/biscuit so addictive. I'm not even a giant fan of gingerbread (to be honest), but the molasses have kept me making these and eating half of them myself for a few years now. They make great gifts and because they keep well you can make them ahead of time. As with most biscotti, these are baked twice: once as a long loaf, then sliced and toasted to create the crumble and snap that is so good for dipping. If you prefer them a little softer, you can skip the second baking - but at least try it once or with half the pastry.The word "Biscotti" is Italian and the Tuscan region gets credit for creating them. It means "cookie" or "biscuit" in Italian, but is literally a combo of the words "twice" and "cooked". The second baking helps to take out the moisture and is why they can last a very long time.
One of my favorite things about biscotti is you can eat it any time: as a snack, with a hot drink, as a dessert, or as a breakfast bread.RECIPE: Gingerbread Spice Biscotti
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter (4 oz.)
1/3 cup Molasses
2 1/2 cup AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated)
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
*optional- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
1) In a large bowl beat together the sugars and butter.
2) Then add eggs one at a time, beating well, then beat in molasses.
3) In another bowl: combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and all the spices.
4) Add the flour & spices, etc. to the butter mixture and beat on low until blended.
5) Stir in the almonds
6) Pull dough together; it will be quite sticky. Place on floured board and divide into small narrow loaves:7) Bake in a preheated oven set on 350 F, until firm ( about 20 minutes). Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove to cool on a rack for about 10 more minutes.
8) Cut into diagonals of about 1 inch or less slices. Return these slices to the pan, lower oven to 300F, and bake for 5-8 minutes on each side.
As the twice baked biscotti cool, they will become crunchy little cookies that act like tough guys until you dip them into warm coffee/tea/hot chocolate or a nice glass of Vin Santo. In the time it takes to get from the glass to your mouth, they will dissolve into a juicy little bite of spicy gingerbread. Enjoy!