Friday 21 December 2007


crispy, crunchy and not too sweet--these are a perfect gift for a chocolate connoisseur

AAAACK! only 4 more days until Christmas! There's so much baking and Christmas cooking to be done and so little time! I've whittled my original 8 pounds of butter down to 3. That's not bad. I decided to keep the rest of the butter for Christmas Day. You know, for the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, the turkey et al. You name it and it's got some butter in it.

This year, we're going organic, free range at Capers Market. I came about this delicious turkey because of my lazy-ass way of waiting until the last moment to purchase a fresh turkey. You see, I also don't like having a huge turkey crammed in my already crammed refrigerator. I also have to have it timed perfectly to allow for brining and drying in the refrigerator. I ran around town looking for a fresh turkey, but none was to be found a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Thankfully, I decided to check out Capers and found a few fresh specialty turkeys left. I took one home immediately (after paying about a third more than I usually pay for a regular non-specialty turkey) and brined it overnight. Then I rinsed and dried it and popped it back in the fridge to dry. That was the most flavourful bird our family has ever tasted. I was even tempted to eat that little turkey butt part that sticks out at the end because it was golden brown and crispy and looked like cracklings...but I didn't. The skin was indeed crackling good and the meat tender, juicy and full of turkey flavour. We deemed the turkey worth the money and we're going to buy it again for Christmas. I even called ahead and reserved one. The turkey I'll be getting is locally raised and free range.

cocoa nibs are roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken into small bits

Those organic cocoa nibs I bought are getting good use this Christmas in my Cookie Boxes. I was salivating at Alice Medrich's Almond Sticks with Cocoa Nibs in her book Bitter Sweet. These cookies would be beautiful and graceful perched on a saucer next to your espresso or a cup of tea. I imagine you could even dip them in wine. They are definitely for adults since I added the frangelico and they are not particularly sweet. They are like thin biscotti almost but not as hard. Instead, these are light and crunchy. You need to slice the sticks as thinly as possible with a serrated knife. I use a bread knife...then use the knife to transfer the long wafer to the parchment-lined cookie sheet.

cocoa nibs are the essence of chocolate, but subtle and delicate in flavour

Again, I've twiddled with the recipe and have adapted it by adding a tablespoon of frangelico...which I think enhances the almond flavour.


makes about thirty-two 6 inch sticks
3/4 cup ( 3 3/4 oz) whole blanched almonds
1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 T water
1 t pure vanilla extract
1/8 t pure almond extract
1 T frangelico
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
  • Combine the almonds, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, and pulse until the almonds are reduced to a fine meal. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like a mass of crumbs. Combine the water, vanilla, and almond extract, drizzle them into the processor bowl, and pulse just until the dough looks damp. Add the cocoa nibs and pulse only until evenly dispersed.
  • The dough will not form a smooth cohesive mass--it will be crumbly, but it will stick together when you press it. Turn it out on a large sheet of foil and fom it into a 6-by-9-inch rectangle a scant 1/2 inch thick. Fold the foil over the dough and press firmly with your hands to compress it, then wrap it airtight. Slide a cookie sheet under the package and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  • Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper.
  • Use a long sharp knife to trim one short edge of the dough rectangle to even it. Then cut a slice a scant 3/8 inch wide and use the knife to transfer the delicate slice to the cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, transferring each slice as it is cut and placing them at least 1 inch apart. If some break, just push them back together, or bake them broken--they will look and taste great anyway.
  • Bake, rotating the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back half way through the baking time, 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are golden at the edges. Set the pans on the racks to cool completely.
  • The cookies can be stored, airtight, for several days.

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