January is...formidable. For humans. For animals. For all living things really. We don't get enough sunlight. The days are grey. Our feet are cold.
But there can also be something lovely about the quiet productivity of this first month. I personally find a lot of comfort in slipping back into my daily rhythms after the chaos of the holidays. Reading new books. Rearranging furniture. Trying recipes. Making plans. Folding laundry.
I woke up the other morning with a need to bake. To do something with my hands that didn't involve a screen and get a little dough under my fingernails. This Cherry Almond biscotti recipe came to mind immediately. It's barely-sweet, with a crisp crumbly texture perfect for dunking in your morning coffee. They are great right out the oven, but just wait. They get even better in about 2 - 3 days.
This is also one of those recipes that can be endlessly experimented with, which is my favorite kind. I think next time I will try pistachio cranberry. This recipe makes about 30 cookies so you will have plenty to share the love and run a quick batch to a friend or neighbor or colleague or mailman. A cozy little winter pick-me-up.
3 tablespoons Amaretto
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
3 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and toast the almonds whole for 5 - 10 mins. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop almonds coarsely.
2. In a medium size bowl, stir together sugar, amaretto and melted butter until well combined. Stir in the almond extract and vanilla extract.
3. Stir in the eggs, chopped almonds and dried cherries.
4. Stir in the baking powder, flour and salt until well combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 - 45 mins.
5. Remove the chilled dough and moisten hands to help make it more manageable (it will be a bit sticky.) Split the dough in half and make two 14 x 3" loafs on the baking sheet. Flatten the loaves so they have an even thickness all the way through.
6. Bake loaves at 350° for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Remove loaves from oven and let cool completely. Slice into 3/4" slices with a very sharp knife.
8. Place the biscottis back on a baking sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until toasted. I like to flip them halfway through to make sure both sides get equally browned. Let cool.
9. Optional: Melt dark chocolate chips to dip biscottis in. You can just dip one end in, or if you are like me and are in it for the chocolate, dip one whole side in. Place on parchment paper and chill in the fridge until chocolate hardens. Keep biscottis on the counter in an airtight container.