Friday, March 17, 2017

Irish Cream Caramel Biscotti

When I was growing up, my grandparents used to live next door to an Irish family. The two youngest daughters were my age and a year older, and we shared the same class in school for years as best friends on and off the playground. Their mom was the school's administrator (back then called a secretary), and would drive us to school in the morning. Even at 8AM, with four (including my sister) grumpy, bleary eyed kids tromping after her, I never recall her being anything other than a generally calm, happy person who's gentle accent always made you feel like she was your mom and best friend rolled in one.

Irish Cream Caramel Biscotti

While it was never a point of note for me as a kid (my grandparents moved when I was 8), now that I think of it I never once saw any alcohol in their house. In fact, I never saw them drink - although ironically my first taste of "real" rum (and whiskey) balls was at a Christmas party there. They always seemed immune to the social pressures of the community to have beer and cocktails at their Summer cookouts, instead serving up glorious "mocktails" for everyone (my favourite involved orange juice, grenadine and ginger ale).

Back home, though, my sister and I were initiated into the world of alcohol through sips of our parents' beer or wine when we went out for dinner (the only time they drank much), and mugs of Bailey's or Kahlua laced hot cocoa or cafe au lait during frosty mornings on our sailboat. With such small doses at a time, we actually had the opportunity to appreciate the flavour of the alcohol - something that I truly value now that I can't drink. Baked into a cookie like biscotti - meant to be dunked in coffee - the flavour of the Irish cream wakes up again and takes on the coffee's flavour while imparting its own into the cup. Tit for tat, no?

And because Irish cream and caramel are just SO good together, I figured I'd throw in some caramel flavour with Vanilla Caramel coffee creamer. After dividing my dough, I kneaded crushed caramels into one part, leaving the other one plain, and I glazed both after they cooled for a "coffee shop" style look.

Irish Cream Caramel Biscotti
Makes ~16
¼ cup vanilla caramel coffee creamer
¼ cup Baileys
½ tbsp cocoa
½ tbsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
⅔ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder 
optional: crushed hard caramels or Skor bits
Powdered sugar and Baileys for icing
  1. Heat the oven to 375 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the creamer, baileys, cocoa, espresso powder, vanilla, eggs and sugar.
  3. Add flours and baking powder, stirring to form a heavy dough.
  4. Divide dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a roll and place one on each cookie sheet, pressing down to ½” thick.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Cool until easily handled, then slice each one crosswise into ½” slices.
  7. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for an additional 10 minutes on each side. Turn off the oven and cool inside before frosting.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 153.2
Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 34.9 mg
Sodium: 15.6 mg
Total Carbs: 28.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 4.6 g

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