If you asked me a year ago whether or not I am a baker, or even enjoyed baking, my answer would be “I would rather cook something savory than bake”. My lack of love for baking in the past was due to the fact that I never felt that I could be ‘creative’ with it. Plus, on occasion, I would leave an ingredient out by mistake. Baking is a ‘science’ and precise measurements are necessary. I’ve come to understand and appreciate baking for what it is. Just follow the directions carefully and measure precisely. If it calls for 1 tablespoon of baking powder then you must put in 1 tablespoon or the end product will not be perfect. Nowadays, I pre-measure my ingredients BEFORE I begin baking and double check to make sure I don’t miss anything!
I’ve probably baked more in the past 6 months then I have all of my life. I really pushed myself to try new recipes and even learned how to bake bread and make pizza dough (which I now do regularly). Baking is actually fun. And, although I personally don’t have a (huge) sweet tooth, I know a lot of people that do.
This year, I hosted a cookie exchange and I made a lot of cookies and extra goodies to give as Christmas gifts, such as chocolate bark and white chocolate lollipops. Gifts from your kitchen are special. When you give someone something that you made, you are giving them a part of yourself. You are giving them something that you’ve created – something you’re proud of.
I actually ENJOY baking now. One day, I came home from a challenging morning and I actually wanted to bake! Luckily, I already had some sugar cookie dough in the refrigerator. (It’s always good to make some dough and freeze it for times you want to make cookies on the spot).
I now find that baking is not a nuisance but a joy. It’s the joy in seeing (and tasting) those cute shaped cookies and asking your children to help you decorate them.
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for baking sheet
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a baking sheet, set aside. (Note, if you have a Silpat silicone sheet, use that. It’s wonderful!)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beat until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl, if necessary. Add flour mixture, slowly, and stir to form a stiff dough. Stir in pistachio nuts and chocolate chips.
Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet, form into a slightly flattened log, about 12 x 4 inches. Bake until slightly firm, about 25 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.
On a cutting board, using a sharp serrated knife, cut biscotti diagonally into 1-inch thick slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on the baking sheet. Bake until crisp but still slightly soft in the center, about 8 minutes.