When I was young, my mom went to a cookie exchange every year during the holidays. I can’t tell you if I went with her, how many people were involved or what she would make. But I can distinctly remember her bringing home a giant tupperware container filled to the brim with a variety of homemade cookies. My brother and I would love trying all the different cookies and bars over the course of the holiday season.
Soon enough I got a little older, moved away from home and eventually forgot about that container filled with cookies. The holidays were still filled with sweets but it never compared to having that variety box filled with homemade goodies.
Then, I was chatting with Colleen from What’s Baking in the Barbershop, who let me know about a cookie exchange in Boston! It was the first cookie exchange that I ever participated in as an actual baker; it was such a fun experience to be a part of! There were several sponsors at the event, including Pretzel Crisps and Polar Seltzer but my favorite part was definitely seeing (and tasting) all the different desserts everyone made! I was so impressed by the variety of cookies available!
When I received the cookbook Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever to review, I knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to test a recipe for this cookie exchange. I had a difficult time choosing which recipe try, as there were so many cookies, bars and dessert sandwiches that all looked incredible, but I eventually decided to try the biscotti.
I love a piece or two of biscotti with my coffee in the morning or to satisfy my sweet tooth after dinner. I followed the recipe from the book very closely, except I decided to use white chocolate (as indicated by the recipe) for half the biscotti and the other half using semi-sweet chocolate.
I really enjoyed this recipe and how thorough and easy to follow the directions were. I also see this as a very versatile recipe; I have a feeling nuts could be mixed in very easily and would add great flavor and texture!
Adapted from Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
5 ounces chocolate, melted (can use white chocolate, semi-sweet, or a combination)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and vanilla on medium speed until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and airy in texture, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and egg white and beat together. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly mix in flour mixture.
3. Place dough on silicone baking mat or lightly floured surface and divine in half. Shape each half into long rolls, about 1 1/4 inches wide (this is for smaller biscotti; you can change the shape for a different size). Transfer formed dough onto prepared baking sheet with at least 1 inch between pieces. Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is firm, but lightly soft when touched. Let cool for 2 minutes then transfer to baking rack and cool for 15 minutes.
4. Reduce oven to 250 degrees. Place baked dough on a cutting board and gently cut each piece on a diagonal into about 1/2 inch pieces, using a serrated knife. Return to baking sheet and bake until dry and firm, about 45-60 minutes (flipping over each piece half-way through). Transfer to wire rack to cool.
5. Melt chocolate drizzle over biscotti. Let cool completely before serving. Serve and enjoy.
~Have you ever been to a cookie exchange (or been the grateful beneficiary of one)?