Musical pairing – Storm Warning by Bonnie Raitt
At the moment, we’re in one of the largest winter storms this country has seen in decades; covering 33 States, we experienced the first round of snow and ice beginning around 6pm last night and within the first 30 minutes our skylights were covered in ice. The Professor managed to wrangle the garbage can to the street but we have no idea if the garbage collectors will make it this morning as there is already a third of an inch of ice covering the roadways and our trees. Round two begins around noon today with another inch of ice expected to fall . . . followed by snow . . . and 40 mile per hour winds. Anyone want to take bets as to whether or not we lose power?
Because we live in the country, if we do lose power it could be days before it’s restored; most of yesterday was spent preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Our generator is primed and ready to go, extension cords, flashlights, batteries and candles have been gathered, gas cans filled for the generator, cars filled with gas, water jugs filled with water and stored in the basement. I ran the vacuum last night at 10:30pm and started the dishwasher before heading to bed. And I cooked . . . and I baked . . . muffins, scones and these Cracked Pepper, Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti . . . priorities people . . . because really, one cannot have too many sweets on hand during a major storm. They’re perfect. Not too sweet, light and crunchy and the cracked black pepper gives the biscotti a nice little ‘sumpin-sumpin’ at the end.
The recipe comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks, ‘Gifts Cooks Love’ by Diane Morgan – I highly recommend getting it for your kitchen library; no fancy ingredients but really terrific recipes and ways you can present them as gifts. Speaking of gifts, these biscotti would be a terrific gift for your coffee lovers – place a few in a mug or wrap in cellophane gifts bags, add a pound of espresso beans and you have something really special. Valentine’s day is just around the corner – I say bake these regardless of the weather!
- Position one rack in the center of the oven and another rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted ingredients in 2 batches, beating after each addition until the flour disappears. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cherries, chocolate and pepper.
- Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface. The dough will be a bit sticky. Divide the dough in half. With lightly floured hands, roll each half into a log 1-1/2 inches thick and about 15 inches long. Place both logs about 3 inches apart on a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Place one log on a cutting board. With a sharp serrated knife and using a sawing motion, carefully cut the log on a slight diagonal into ½-inch thick slices. Place the slices on their sides on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second log, using an additional baking sheet to arrange the biscotti in a single layer. Bake until dried out and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Turn each slice over and bake until lightly golden, 10 minutes longer. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.