LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF BISCOTTI

When in the course of blogging events, it becomes necessary to create a holiday dish, it’s fun to try to come up with something creative in order to form a more perfect celebration.  For this year’s 4th of July festivities, I’ll be making Red, White and Blue Biscotti, which hit all the high notes with my family.  (I’ve seen it suggested that Chicken Catch-a-Tory would be a good Independence Day party dish, but these colorful biscotti are so much more fun.)  There’s a few steps involved, but the end result is worth the extra time.

Begin with your favorite biscotti recipe, or use the one I’ve provided below.  Divide the dough into thirds, placing each third in a separate bowl.

To color the dough, it’s best to use gel food color, as opposed to liquid food color, for deeper colors:

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Be careful when using the food color, however, as it will stain your clothes, countertops, wooden spoons, fingers, dogs, etc.  Add enough food color to get the depth of color you desire, and mix it thoroughly into the dough (I find a metal fork works best for mixing the food color in):

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To shape the biscotti, cover your workspace with a sheet of waxed paper or parchment, and lightly flour the surface.  Place one portion of dough on the waxed paper, and using your bare arms (which is your right), knead the dough a few times and then roll into a log about 14 inches long.  Repeat with the remaining two portions of dough.  Lay the three logs side by side, and gently twist them to form a single log:

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Cut the log into two pieces and transfer to a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Shape logs into fat rectangles:

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Bake according to recipe directions, then remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet.  The dough will have puffed up considerably.

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When cool enough to handle comfortably, slice on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices using a serrated knife.  Stand the slices up on the baking sheet.  (For some recipes, you lay the slices on their side and bake, then turn over and bake longer, but for this recipe, in order for the colors to stay sharp, you don’t want to brown the sides.)

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If you really want to gild the liberty bell, you can spread a little white chocolate on the tops of the biscotti and sprinkle with red, white and blue nonpareils:

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Peaceably assemble (which is your right) the biscotti in a decorative container, and stand back and receive full faith and credit for these crowd-pleasing treats.   If you bring these to a 4th of July picnic, it should be a self-evident truth that they will be a surefire hit.

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I tried to find a knock knock joke to post for the 4th of July, but apparently there aren’t any, because freedom rings.  Happy 4th of July!

PLAIN BISCOTTI
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Recipe type: Cookie
Author:
The beauty of this recipe is that it's a blank canvas -- you can doctor it up as you desire with nuts, flavorings, chocolate, etc. The butter keeps it from being tooth-breaking hard, but still crunchy enough for dunking.
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Place eggs, melted butter, and extracts in a large bowl, and beat together using an electric beater. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and stir until well combined, and a sticky dough is formed.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 or 6 times. (If making red, white, and blue biscotti, divide dough into thirds and color one third with red gel food color, one third with blue gel food color, and leave the last third uncolored. Form each third into a rope approximately 14 inches long. Lay the ropes side by side and gently twist to form a single rope.) Divide the log into two equal portions.
  5. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet, and using your hands, pat into fat rectangles. Bake until lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the logs from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and slice them on the diagonal into ½-inch thick slices using a serrated knife. Stand the cookies up on the cookie sheet and bake again until the biscotti are dry, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

 

 

4TH OF JULY FIRECRACKERS

Happy 1st Birthday to Tag Sale Tastes!  One year ago today I launched the blog with Patriotic Red and Blue Cherry Spritz Cookies.  That recipe has since been pinned and repinned many times on Pinterest (including once by a mean pinner who didn’t care for my sculptural tree decorated with red and blue ornaments and declared it the “Christmas in July take on the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree,” and was so proud of her witty self that she included 9 hashtags with it).

To kick off the blog’s second year, here’s another patriotic treat that will surely make your kids smile, and only requires 3 ingredients.  The first is these red, white, and blue Twizzlers I found at Walgreen’s:

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I think it’s a bit of stretch to say that they are “raspberry, wild berry, and lemonade” flavored, but more discriminating palates (or is it less discriminating palates?) might disagree.  If you can’t find these, you can, of course, use plain old Twizzlers.

The second ingredient is Little Debbie Swiss Rolls (which I will forever call Ho Hos):

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The last ingredient is Pop Rocks:

Just before you plan to serve them, assemble the “firecrackers,” by cutting off a 2-inch piece of Twizzler, and pulling apart the individual strands about halfway down, to create a “fuse” for your firecracker.  Using the end of wooden spoon or a skewer, poke a hole in the end of the Swiss Roll and sprinkle in some Pop Rocks, and then stick the Twizzler fuse in the end of the Swiss Roll.  Seriously — if you can stick a Twizzler in a Ho Ho (yeah, I know), then you can make a “firecracker.”  As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”  (Except hell would probably have to freeze over before she ever made Jeffrey a Twizzler/Ho Ho firecracker.)

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4th of July Firecrackers

Another firecracker interpretation using Twizzlers are these “perfectly imperfect” Firecracker Pops from Sweet Simple Stuff:

1d71350d8bb6c917469e9db4b46c47e3[1]Something about Twizzlers brings out the kid in everyone.  Go get yourself a pack of patriotic Twizzlers and have some fun of your own this 4th of July!