Remember when I was on Martha's show back in February? I still have the photo of me and Martha laughing on set as my desktop wallpaper. When I was there she gave me a copy of her 'Baking Handbook' with a note in it. I have decided to try as many recipes as possible! And I'm going to chronicle my experiments. I'm not going to re-print the recipes because that's a lot of typing, and I don't think I can, legally, anyway. Lol - get the book! It's fabulous!
Saturday is now cooking day. Ha! Ben loves helping me cook too - he has one cupboard he can access - the one with the Tupperware and unbreakable stuff. He loves pulling everything out of the cupboard, and then he puts it away again. And he's an excellent taster of my finished products!
I had most of the ingredients in my pantry. (which always gives me this weird sense of pride, you know? That I have the right things in my pantry.) Anyway, I had to run to the grocery store for the Anise extract & anise seeds the recipe calls for. Which I suppose defeats the purpose of having all the other stuff handy, but all that aside, I finally had my ingredients lined up and ready to cook. (It's a bummer to be your own soux chef, but, it helps so much when baking to have everything a ready to go. I highly recommend the prep work in advance.)I couldn't find Anise seeds at the market. Which was weird, I went to a nice store. Oh well, I bought Fennel seeds since they have that similar black-licorice flavor... which I don't really like at all, but Dave loves. I often bake things that I don't like to avoid the temptation of the nibbling at the batter. I don't like nuts in my cookies either, so this recipe was made for me. Lol. (Dave loves nutty cookies too.)
Alright, I got the nuts toasting - that did make the kitchen smell yummy. Always a good sign when baking. I went to work sifting the flour & cornmeal together. Hmm.... My cornmeal just wouldn't sift down. On Martha's show, she always sifts with a nice bowl shaped sieve, and she makes it look like a careless flick of the wrist. Well, the flour went through quite nicely, but I was left with a pile of cornmeal. Perhaps cornmeal was not intended for that type of sifting. Me being me, (Martha don't read this -) I just dumped the remaining cornmeal into the bowl and continued to the next step.
The butter/sugar became light and fluffy easily. I love my Mixer. It's honestly the best kitchen tool ever. I remember my babysitter when I was a kid making us mix cookie dough with a wooden spoon - such an exhausting exercise! My KitchenAid is used frequently. I put the almonds into the freezer to make sure they were good and cold before adding them to the mixture (ha. I've made that mistake before. You can't come back from melted batter. Trust me)
I followed all the instructions about shaping the dough with no problem. But as I tried to slice the logs into biscotti shaped pieces, the ends kept braking off. I'm not sure what I did wrong there - the biscotti turned out tasting great, but only a few actually had the perfect biscotti shape. And again, the kitchen smelled great as the anise flavor heated up. It doesn't call for it in the recipe, but I dipped them in melted chocolate just for fun. Dave says they turned out delicious. And the best indicator of all? The fact that they are rapidly disappearing from the cupboard. Lol.