Siena Spice Cookies, Lemon Anise Sugar Twists, Peppermint Crunch Chocolate Chip Meringues

Here are some cookie recipes I couldn’t fit into Friday’s In The Kitchen column in The Packet. The focus of the article was unusual spices and seasonings for cookies.

The meringues don’t really qualify, but they – along with the lemon anise twists – seemed to be so easy that I thought I’d go ahead and include both. Besides, chocolate with peppermint candy is one of my favorite holiday flavor combinations.

The first recipe below is from the lovely little “Biscotti,” one of four titles in a series from the Rome Sustainable Food Project at The American Academy in Rome. The others in the series are Zuppe, Pasta, and Verdure. The set of four, each a compact size and beautifully designed, would make a lovely holiday gift for the foodie in your family or circle of friends.

The other two recipes here are from Barbara Fairchild’s “The Bon Appétit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh.” A friend gave me this for Christmas a few years ago; it’s packed with 1100 recipes from the popular Fast Easy Fresh feature in Bon Appétit magazine. It’s proving to be a treasure, I find myself turning to this book for ideas and recipes more and more.

Biscotti Di Siena Speziate (Siena Spice Cookies)

Adapted from “Biscotti,” Mona Talbot and Mirella Misenti, The Little Book Room (2011)Biscotti

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon  finely ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon  ground cloves

Pinch of salt

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups finely chopped raw almonds

2 cups semisweet chocolate, grated

1/3 cup candied orange peel, finely chopped

1/3 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Melted chocolate or confectioners’ sugar for topping (optional)

Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt and spices in a medium-size bowl. Beat eggs and sugar at high speed until white and fluffy. Add dry ingredients, almonds, chocolate, candied orange and lemon peels, and lemon zest. Mix until well-combined. Wrap the dough first in parchment paper, then plastic film, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (You can store dough in freezer for up to 2 months; defrost before using.)

To bake, preheat oven to 325°. Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll out dough to an even 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough using a cookie cuter, re-roll scraps, and repeat. Transfer cookies to baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving 1 inch between each.

Bake 10-12 minutes. The cookies can be finished with a drizzle of melted chocolate or dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Lemon & Anise Sugar Twists

Adapted from “Bon Appétit fast easy fresh,” Barbara Fairchild, John Wiley & Sons (2008)

Makes 12

Sugar

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17 1/2-ounce package), thawed

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk (glaze)

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 teaspoons aniseed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle work surface with sugar. Set pastry atop sugar and roll out to thickness of 1/8 inch. Brush with egg glaze. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and lemon peel in small bowl. Sprinkle over pastry. Sprinkle with aniseed. Cut pastry crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. Pick up each pastry strip, twist several times and place on ungreased cookie sheet, pressing ends onto sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Cool pastries on rack.

Peppermint Crunch Chocolate Chip Meringues

Adapted from “Bon Appétit fast easy fresh,” Barbara Fairchild, John Wiley & Sons (2008)

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

3/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

8 red-white striped peppermint candies, crushed, or 1-2 candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 275°. Line 2 large baking shets with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until thick and fluffy. Fold in extract, then chocolate chips.

Drop meringues by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with crushed candy.

Bake one hour. Transfer to racks to cool.

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