It’s cookie baking season, and this week I’m baking up the crisp Italian cookies called biscotti.
Making biscotti from scratch has always been a bit of work. Besides measuring out the ingredients, the cookies are baked twice: First, in a long log, and then sliced and baked again.
My Cranberry Orange Biscotti is perfect for the season and is super easy to bake up with the help of a packaged cake mix.
You can serve the biscotti plain, but I like to take them over the top with a little orange drizzle. If you want really crisp biscotti, decorate them with the drizzle just before serving since drizzling ahead will cause the cookies to soften a bit.
CRANBERRY ORANGE BISCOTTI
For the biscotti:
1 18.5-ounce package white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest from one orange
¾ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Combine the cake mix, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla and zest in a stand mixer. Beat at low until well blended. Mix in cranberries and pecans.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 12-by-2-inch log. Place logs on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 15 minutes.
Cut logs into 1/2-inch slices using a serrated knife. Arrange slices on baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and cool completely.
If you want to use the drizzle, stir the confectioners’ sugar, butter and orange juice together in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the cookies and let them sit out so that the drizzle can harden slightly.
Makes 3-4 dozen.
VARIATIONS: Starting with a cake mix makes easy work out of biscotti and allows for lots of variations. Here are a few other combinations:
• Peppermint Biscotti: Use a white or chocolate cake mix and add ½ teaspoon peppermint extract to the batter. Omit the orange zest, cranberries and pecans and add ¾ cup of crushed candy canes. Omit the orange juice in the drizzle, add 1 tablespoon milk or cream and ½ teaspoon peppermint extract. Sprinkle more crushed candy canes over the top
of the biscotti once it has been decorated with the drizzle.
• Mocha-Cinnamon Biscotti: Use a white or yellow cake mix and add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder to the batter. Omit the orange zest and cranberries and add ¾ cup semisweet chocolate morsels and the pecans or walnuts. Omit the orange juice in the drizzle and substitute 2 tablespoons of black coffee.
• Chocolate-Almond Biscotti: Use a chocolate cake mix and add 1 teaspoon almond extract. Omit the orange zest, cranberries and walnuts. Add ¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds. Omit the orange juice in the drizzle and substitute 1½ tablespoons milk or cream and ½ teaspoon almond extract.
• Red Velvet Biscotti: Use a red velvet cake mix. Omit the orange zest, cranberries and walnuts. Add ¾ cup white chocolate morsels to the batter. Drizzle with melted white chocolate morsels.