25 November 2013

pumpkin cranberry fig biscotti from Once Upon A Tart

pumpkin cranberry fig biscotti
You've probably heard me talk about the Once Upon A Tart cookbook before, especially, strangely enough, about their biscotti. I've made a few of their scones, too, though not so much their tarts.

I love the technique of their biscotti so much that I used their platform to create gingerbread biscotti. The technique is different than traditional recipes in that the egg whites are whipped into a meringue and folded into the egg yolk-sugar mixture. There's also butter in there, too. This helps achieve biscotti that can stand alone as its own cookie, as well as one that can be dipped into a frothy espresso or a steaming hot mug of cocoa.

A long time ago, on this blog, I talked about the pumpkin biscotti, but never included the recipe. This season, I've only baked with pumpkin once, and that was a pumpkin bread that didn't really turn out well. This recipe is pretty idiot proof, especially considering that my meringue didn't really whip up properly.

There may or may not have been traces of egg yolks in the whites. I'm not telling.

pumpkin cranberry fig biscotti
You're supposed to use fresh cranberries and toasted pecans and yellow raisins. I didn't feel like the pecans, and although I like raisins, I couldn't help but feel like this about them:

Credit, not my own
So I used chopped figs softened in some hot orange juice. Figs seem like an autumnal flavor, and (where do I hand in my foodie card?) I've never baked with them before.

Reserve the orange juice for a cup of hot apple cider.

pumpkin cranberry fig biscotti
Divide the batter in half to make full-size biscotti, or in thirds for mini biscotti. Sprinkle with turbinado (raw) sugar.

pumpkin cranberry fig biscotti
After baking and cooling briefly, slice on the bias and bake some more. I flip the slices over half way, otherwise they don't brown evenly. At this point, it's a matter of personal preference as to how long they're baked. If you're looking for a super crunchy biscotti, bake longer until they're a deep golden brown. Bake less for crunchy biscotti with a bit of chew in the center.

Biscotti really are my favorite cookie. I feel this weird tingly old-timey sensation when I bake them, and I don't feel as stupid telling others that I eat them for breakfast like I would with a normal cookie. If you have any remaining pumpkin lurking in the depths of your fridge, use it to make these.

Pumpkin Cranberry Biscotti
Recipe from Once Upon a Tart...: Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More

My mods in italics

Ingredients -

4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (230g)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, packed tightly (183g)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cup fresh cranberries, chopped
8 dried figs, chopped and plumped in hot orange juice for 5 minutes (drain and pat dry)
4 packets Sugar In The Raw, divided

Directions -
  1. Position one of your oven racks in the center. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks. With the mixer still on high, beat in about half the sugar until the egg whites are glossy.
  4. In another large bowl (pro tip: it helps if the bowl has tall sides), beat the egg yolks and the remaining half of the sugar on high speed until the eggs are pale and frothy and the sugar dissolves. Stir in pumpkin puree and vanilla.
  5. Gently fold in the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, followed by the melted butter.
  6. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dough comes together. Before the flour is completely incorporated, stir in the cranberries and figs to combine. Form into two logs (lightly wet your fingertips with water, as dough will be sticky) about 3" x 10". Sprinkle each log with two packets of Sugar In The Raw.
  7. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch. Cool on wire racks for 30 minutes (this is important, otherwise you won't achieve even slices). Place the logs on a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch slices, on the bias, with a long and sharp serrated knife (I didn't use a serrated knife). Do not use a sawing motion, but make decisive downward strokes.
  8. Place slices cut size down on a baking sheet and bake for another 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway, until they are crisp and golden brown throughout. Allow to cool completely before eating.

05 November 2013

Update: Saving for the Holidays with Walmart Family Mobile's Unlimited Plans

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. All opinions are my own.
#familymobilesaves #shop #cbias
Last month, I tested out the Walmart Family Mobile service, which offers cheap, unlimited wireless plans. Initially, I was attracted to this campaign because I was none too pleased with having to pay $60 a month for unlimited service, though when you move and want to remain in contact with family, that's what you have to do. So, here was a way for me to keep in contact with said family while spending a little less on my monthly wireless bill.

In my last post, I gave a brief review of the Walmart Family Mobile service, and how it compared to my existing service from Virgin Mobile. What I like about this plan, which runs through T-Mobile, is that my calls are no longer dropped, and I seem to have decent coverage wherever I go.

One concern I had was that I would blow through the monthly allotment of 3G data, especially since I run more apps on the Concord than before, though I haven't even come close to using the full 5GB. If you stream music and videos, though, you might be more likely to hit your monthly allotment.

Before, when I didn't have a smartphone, I didn't have any expectations of my phone when it came to using the internet or checking email. Now that it's easier to do those things on this phone, I find myself more aggravated with the slowness of the old Android OS and the limited memory capacity of the Concord. I feel that Virgin Mobile is still superior in terms of quality of phones offered, even if the plan costs more per month. I'm especially infuriated by the lackluster performance of my phone in stores, when I need to look up a product online to compare prices, or check if it's in stock. I'm not sure if this is because of the phone or the service, or a combination of both.

#familymobilesaves #shop #cbias
In areas with strong service, though, everything runs smoothly and I can quickly bounce between apps, such as this past weekend when I was tracking runners, updating Facebook, and looking up directions on my phone. Since I'll be traveling back home next week, I can see how well my phone handles busy airports.

Also, the picture quality is nothing to brag about. While the Concord takes fine pictures in bright daylight, nighttime pictures aren't very great, and there is no flash. This isn't so much a problem as it is a nuisance.

Like Virgin Mobile, managing your account online is simple. I have bill notifications set to update me of upcoming payments via text and email. You have the option of setting up automatic payments, if you prefer.

Overall, I am semi-pleased with my experience with Walmart Family Mobile, and I will most likely continue using the service despite the disappointing phone quality. It has come in handy a little more this holiday season than my old phone has, and although it'll take me longer to save up to a better phone, I might just stick it out until then.

#familymobilesaves #shop #cbias
#familymobilesaves #shop #cbias
If you remember, in my previous post I had also talked about how I would use some of the money I was saving for Christmas cookies. Well, it's already started! I've been stocking up on containers, and have already gotten cookie decorating supplies. Those cat cookies obviously aren't for Christmas, but they are an example of what I make every year around the holidays. They're a project, though I can't wait until I really delve into holiday baking!
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