Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cranberry Orange Biscotti and Homemade Granola: Breakfast in a Box for Mother's Day

I'm not sure if there was ever a vote or an international decree, but somewhere along the way Mother's Day seems to have become the breakfast holiday (or brunch, if you're one for sleeping in).  Maybe it's because warmer weather is a upon us and it's the perfect time for a mid-morning outdoor meal. 

Unfortunately for me, my mother's 1600 miles away, so swinging by for Sunday brunch isn't all that easy.  But I figure, that's no reason to get in the way of some yummy food.  So I sent my mom some breakfast in the mail.  We may not be together, but we can still share a meal.

Of course, eggs and pancakes don't ship all that well.  You've got to choose your mailing food carefully.  Something with a fairly long shelf-life that can be packed easily and won't crumble under the pressure of domestic travel is ideal.  Then just give it plenty of cushion and pray that it gets to its destination in one piece.

I sent some biscotti to my mom a few years ago, and it's still one of my favorite pastries with a strong cup of coffee.  Paired with some homemade granola, it's a sweet morning treat for anybody.  These biscotti are flavored with orange zest and dried cranberries.  They're bright and tangy and perfect for spring, plus they're drizzled with white chocolate. 

And let's talk about white chocolate, because this is important.  When you're at the grocery store, look at the ingredients list for the white chocolate you're about to buy.  Does it say cocoa butter anywhere?  If not, put it back on the shelf and back away slowly.  That is not white chocolate.  It's a sugar and oil imposter.  And it might taste fine in cookies, but if you're going to be melting and drizzling or coating with it, you want the real thing.

My homemade granola is made with a dried fruit mix I found at the farmer's market - apples, apricots, pears and raisins.  Plain ol' raisins would work just as well, or you can grab your own favorite dried fruit and play with it.  If it tastes good, it's the right ingredient.

 Homemade Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (vegetable oil works, too)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 250°F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add fruit and mix until evenly distributed.

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped 
4 oz. white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix together sugar, oil, orange peel, vanilla and eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients and cranberries to wet ingredients and mix until incorporated. 

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  On ungreased cookie sheep, shape one half of the dough at a time into a 10"x3" rectangle.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for fifteen minutes.  Using a serrated knife, but crosswise into 1/2" slices.  Pace cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes longer, flipping once halfway through.

Remove from cookie sheet onto cooling rack.  Cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

For the white chocolate drizzle, put white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 20 seconds.  Stir.  Continue microwaving in 20 second increments until you can stir the chocolate into a smooth consistency.  Drizzle over the biscotti and put in the fridge for a half hour to set.

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