And... when that cookie making is combined with a great cause (and results in receiving three dozen amazing cookies that I didn't have to bake myself), well the truce gets a whole heckuva lot easier to live with.
This is the second year that I have participated The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. For the past three years they have coordinated this event where cookies are shipped all around the world in an effort to raise money and awareness for Cookies for Kids Cancer - a group dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer.
To make the whole thing even sweeter, some great companies like OXO, Grandma's Molasses, Gold Medal Flour and Dixie Crystals also are contributing to the cause.
This year, between blogger and corporate donations, close to 15,000$ was raised to support this cause.
See? I told you this was a truce-worthy event.
The first package to arrive was a box full of "kitchen sink" cookies from Chris at Hye Thyme Café. They had a couple of "secret" ingredients that made them one of the most moist cookies I have ever had.
Erin at Hot Dinner Happy Home sent along a batch of cardamom sugar cookies. How did she know that cardamom is one of my favorite spices?
And last, but not least Claire-Lauren of Simply Sweet Justice sent a batch of deliciously spicy Pfeffernussen. These definitely appealed to my savory side and were also a huge hit in the house.
Thank you ladies - amazing cookies!
Over the summer, I acquired a copy of Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and immediately earmarked these biscotti. After the craziness of the Thanksgiving, I was looking for a high impact cookie with minimal stress on the baker (that would be moi).
I don't know what the recipients thought about these, but I can tell you that my peeps cleaned these out in pretty short order (Runner Girl confiscated half a batch to take back to college with her).
The addition of cornmeal (I used coarse) and Olive Oil resulted in a pleasingly crunchy texture. I am always of the opinion that a really good olive oil can make anything taste, well... amazing. (Break out the good olive oil here, it totally makes a difference.) These went perfect with a cup of tea, but were great to nibble all on their own. And their intentionally rustic look paired up well with my lack of cookie shaping prowess.
Cornmeal & Olive Oil Biscotti w/ Walnuts and Dried Apricots
Slightly Adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich
5 ounces (1 cup plus 2 Tbs) unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 5/8 ounces (2/3 cup) cornmeal (if using coarse ground cornmeal, add an extra Tbs flour)
3/8 tsp baking powder
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 5/8 ounces (2/3 cup) granulated white sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
2 large eggs, room temperature
Zest of one medium orange, finely grated
4.5 ounces (1 1/3 cups) walnuts, roughly chopped
3 ounces (2/3 cups) diced apricots, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large cookie sheet or half sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you are using a hand mixer), combine the olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, eggs and zest. Beat of medium-high speed (setting 4 if using a KitchenAid stand mixer) for ~4 minutes. Mixture should be pale in color, light and slightly thick.
Switch to a spatula and fold in the flour mixture, until well combined. Stir in the walnuts and pears. Let the batter rest for ~10 minutes to let the mixture absorb some of the moisture. Spread the batter down the center of the baking sheet – patting it into a log that is ~5” by 15” long.
Bake for 20-25 minutes – rotating the sheet half way through the baking cycle. (I checked on these after about 5 minutes – if the cookies are spreading too much, I use my bench knife to gently nudge the edges back in toward the middle). The log will be lightly golden on top and darker gold at the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for ~10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.
Carefully transfer the cookie log to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife (I found that my bench knife did the best job), cut the log crosswise into slices that are just over ½” wide. (Be careful, the cookies are pretty delicate at this point – oh, and I won’t tell if you sneak one for quality control…). Using a large spatula, gently return the cookies to the cookie sheet – leaving at least ½” of space between them. Bake for another 15-20 minutes – rotating the cookie sheet half way through baking. Cookies are done when tops and edges are slightly golden.
Remove pan from oven and allow cookies to cool completely before storing.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.