semolina-pistachio cantuccini; tuesdays with dorie

a day late and a dollar short-almost.  thought this challenge was next week and nearly missed it. luckily, cantuccini are easy to make with this recipe from nick malgieri and the recipe from baking with julia is the same as this recipe on his website.  since i really did not want approximately 80 cookies in the house, i made one third of the recipe.  still, i ended up with about two dozen small, crispy cookies.
honestly, i am a bit of a biscotti snob.  when i first opened my wholesale only bakery in 1997, all i made were biscotti.  my husband and i sold them to nearly every coffee house in town.  my preference is for a softer texture and by softer i do not mean chewy or moist.  my biscotti are dry like a biscotti should be; the difference is that they do not need a soaking to bite into.  luckily, neither did these cantuccini when sliced according to nick’s directions-1/4″ thick.

 today also happens to be my husbands birthday.  he loves biscotti and i knew he would enjoy these.  to bake a cake for just the two of us is really a waste and with a cookie like these, i knew they weren’t going to get stale before they were gone.  the recipe calls for whole almonds and since i was making just a third of the recipe, i only needed 1/2 cup.  and of course, i didn’t have that many.  they quickly became almonds and pistachios.  just to make it interesting, i subbed semolina flour for half of the all purpose flour and added a little kewda water.  if you have never heard of kewda water, it is a floral flavoring similar to rose water and is quite common in indian cooking.  to find it, visit and indian or pakistani market, they are sure to have some.

 nick takes one step in slicing the biscotti that very few recipes follow and it is also something i learned on my own many years ago just by trial and error.  to get perfect slices with almost no breakage, you must let the baked cookie log cool completely.  wrap it up and slice it tomorrow if you have to.  the reason is that the internal moisture will distribute as the biscotti cools and when completely cold, the crispy outer crust will soften and prevent the edges from breaking as you slice through the log.  so listen to nick and listen to me-let it sit!!!

 beautiful, clean slices.  love the color that the semolina and the pistachio give the cookies slices.

 and this is how the log looked after i sliced it-see, no broken pieces!

the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee in the late afternoon.  too bad the husband wasn’t here to share them-he went morel hunting instead.  what can i say, it is his birthday-and i have a feeling i know what we are having for dinner tomorrow…happy birthday darry!

to see what the other bakers came up with, visit the tuesdays with dorie page!

floral baby cakes; twd/bwj

this weeks tuesdays with dorie challenge was upside-down baby cakes with rhubarb.  sounds tasty doesn’t it?  knowing that i would need fresh rhubarb for the recipe, i went to the grocery store and what they were asking $5.99 per pound for wasn’t worth a dime.  generally, “my neighborhood kroger” (as they so like to call themselves) carries frozen, sliced rhubarb but they no longer do so.  the recipe lists a selection of fruits to substitute but nothing sounded interesting.  while looking at the photo for the recipe, i noticed that the cake pictured was topped with sage leaves, that caught my attention.  further reading revealed a paragraph at the end of the recipe on making the cakes with scented geraniums-bingo!  well, kinda sorta.  i do not have any scented geraniums.  but i do have an herb garden that has many plants in bloom: sage, thyme, borage and rosemary are all covered in blooms.  borage won.

to see the recipe, visit the blogpage of our host this week, erin, of when in doubt-leave it at 350.  to see what all of the other participants made, visit the tuesdays with dorie website.

my husband likes to surprise me with food gifts.  for christmas, he tucked a bottle of kewda water, also called kewra water, into my stocking and i have been waiting for a recipe to use it in.  it is very floral, like rosewater on steroids and it was the perfect addition to my little cakes.  if you want to try some, head to an indian market since it is a popular addition to indian pastries and desserts.

the recipe is pretty versatile, the kewda water was an easy 1 to 1 substitution for the suggested rose water.  the recipe also called for creme fraiche or sour cream-i had neither and used buttermilk with perfect results.

once the simple butter cake recipe was mixed, i gently dropped a scoop of batter over each flower in the  cups of the mini muffin pan.  if you use edible flowers, be sure they have not been treated with pesticides.  since the borage flowers came from my garden, that wasn’t an issue.  my mini cakes baked up quickly, about 12 minutes at 350 using a heaped #70 scoop per cup.

pretty little cakes, perfect for a trip to the garden-i always bring a cake to share!