One of the highlights of the holiday season, for me, is the Annual Food Blogger Cookie Swap. The premise of this is simple: sign up, make a small donation to Cookies for Kids Cancer, receive the names & addresses of three other bloggers, send them some cookies, and check the mailbox every.single.day. waiting for cookies in return (from three different bloggers). It’s such a fun way to meet new people, and try things you would have never thought of.
One of the requirements of the swap is that you’re not allowed to use a recipe that you’ve already posted on your blog. So, those amazing chocolate chip cookies I made earlier this year? I couldn’t send those. The carmelitas I actually received the first year I did the swap? Can’t send those either. I sent chocolate dipped caramel biscotti last year, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. Biscotti is perfect for something like this, because they ship really, really well. It’s nice not worrying about the people you’re sending them to receiving a box of broken cookie pieces. They also have a really long shelf life. My test batch lasted for over a week in an airtight container, before I finally made Graham take them to work with him, so I would stop eating them!
Last year one of the cookies I received was an apple cider cookie stuffed with a caramel, and they were delicious. I never would have thought of using apple cider mix in a cookie, but it gives it such a strong, delicious apple flavor! I knew I wanted to do another biscotti recipe this year, so I decided to use the apple cider to make an apple cranberry biscotti. And they turned out really, really well. My first test batch included a finely diced fuji apple, as well as the apple cider mix. The apple didn’t add much to the cookie, and just made the dough really wet, so I nixed that for the final batch. Graham didn’t think the apple flavor was strong enough, so I also added a little more apple cider, and reduced the sugar a bit.
I was thrilled with the next batch. So thrilled, I went ahead and packaged them up and sent them out to two of my matches then & there! There are chopped up Craisins in the cookies themselves, and then I added a little more to the top, for a pop of color. It kind of looks like bacon in some of these pictures, but it’s cranberry, I promise =)
Apple Cranberry Biscotti
(Recipe adapted from this one.)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter; room temperature
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 large eggs; room temperature
- 1 t. of vanilla extract
- 2 & 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup of Craisins, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
- 6 packets of Apple Cider Mix
- 4 ounces of white chocolate
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- Beat butter in large bowl with a mixer for about 30 seconds then add sugar, baking powder, salt & beat until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract & beat until just combined.
- Whisk together the flour and the apple cider mix, and fold that into the wet ingredients. Beat until just mixed, and then fold in the cranberries.
- Divide dough into half (or thirds). On a lightly floured surface, with floured hands shape the dough into two logs about 10″ x 3″ (or three logs that are about 10″ x 2″) . Place dough 2-3″ apart onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Cool pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. (It’s important to let it cool otherwise it will crumble and break if you try to cut it while hot)
- Reduce oven temperature to 300º. Using a serrated knife, cut each roll diagonally into ½ inch thick slices.
- Place slices cut side up on the cookie sheet about ½ inches apart and bake for 12- 15 minutes on each side. Cool biscotti on wire racks.
- When cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate by your method of choice (for white chocolate, the microwave method works better for me than the double boiler method), and then dip each cookie in the chocolate. Sprinkle with the extra cranberries (and gently press them into the chocolate a tiny bit) and let sit until the chocolate has hardened. Once the chocolate has hardened, store in an air tight container.
And while making cookies is fun, receiving them is even more fun. This year I received cookies from Meghan from Spoonful of Flour. She sent me dark chocolate cashew cookies that we devoured. They were so, so good and my husband and I couldn’t stop eating them! The 12 she sent were gone in 2-3 days… #sorrynotsorry. Definitely check out her blog for the recipe, and for her beautiful food photography.
I also received cookies from Nichi at the Mandatory Mooch. She sent me chocolate covered Oreos, and these were almost too pretty to eat! Don’t they remind you of Wedgewood ornaments? I can’t wait till she shares the recipe so I can see how she made them!