Wait. A dietitian is telling me to eat cookies? Yep.
Does your family have a special cookie you enjoy every year? The holidays are a time to enjoy special foods with family and friends. This year, you won’t be seeing as many friends and family members, so you definitely don’t want to skip the special cookies.Healthy eating is not restrictive, it's balanced. Click To Tweet
Like any treat-food, you can definitely fit cookies into your diet – but don’t skip your fruit or veggies. Perhaps you can swap your special cookie servings for some of the starchy food portions you’d normally eat (breads, rice, pasta). Otherwise, just enjoy the cookies!
We are huge cookie lovers over here. My mother was an excellent baker and we grew up with lavish cookie platters during Christmastime. Italian classics like biscotti slices, wedding knots and pizzelles were always part of those trays. I continue that tradition, as does my sister-in-law and nieces. Of my sons, one (thus far) enjoys baking and creates beautiful pies and scones. I’m sure when they are older, they will choose their favorite holiday cookies and continue baking them.
This year, since we are just a family of 5 with no large gatherings, so I’m not baking quite the amount of cookies I usually do. I also decided to save time and support a local business and order a few dozen more varieties from her. I’m still going to end up with 6 varieties and a ton of cookies in the freezer, but it’ll be less than we usually end up baking! Plus, they’ll be frozen fresh, so I know my sons will enjoy the leftovers during January.
My Favorite: Cranberry Biscotti
My mother always made a traditional Italian biscotti that was flavored with anise seed and extract. I loved these twice-baked “slices” as child and dipped them in my coffee (yes, I began drinking lattes at age 10). Sometime around 1996 I discovered a Williams Sonoma recipe for Cranberry Almond Biscotti that I absolutely loved. I’ve made them every year, although I always tweaked the recipe. This year my oldest son asked for Pistachio Biscotti, so I modified the recipe to both fit that bill, still include the cranberries that I love, and also incorporate the changes I had made to the dough over the years. So here is my Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti recipe. Feel free to substitute almonds for the pistachios (and if so, add 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract).
These are not difficult to make, but they do take some time. They aren’t overly sweet and are so delicious any time of the day!
Baking Tools and Tips
All biscotti recipes involve twice-baking (if you don’t like them hard, then you really don’t like biscotti!). It involves forming the dough into a log, baking it then slicing the baked (and cooled) log into slices, and baking again. I recommend using a silicone mat to line cookie sheet. This makes creating the logs easier. The mat stays in place while you roll into shape, and the dough doesn’t stick. Place the ball of dough onto the mat, then roll with the palms of your hands until you have an even log. Flatten the top lightly and bake. Be sure the dough logs cools, then use a serrated knife in a slow, gentle, deliberate fashion to make slices. It’s normal for some to crumble.
Here are some great items to have on hand when baking. As an Amazon Affiliate, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase.
- Silicone mats
- Baking sheets
- If you are looking for a less expensive stand mixer – try this one
- Cooling racks
Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
- Stand mixer with whisk and dough hook
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup pistachios, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Place the cranberries into a small bowl and fill with hot water to cover them. Let stand for 10 minutes, then drain the water and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer add the eggs, sugar, oil, cinnamon, baking powder, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt to a large bowl. Using whisk attachment, whisk ingredients until well blended.
- Change out the whisk for the dough hook attachment. Add 2 cups of the flour, the cranberries and nuts to the bowl. Blend ingredients for 1 minute, then gradually add remaining flour until soft dough forms.
- Cut the dough in half. (note, photo is a double back of dough)
- Take half of the dough and place it onto the baking mat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Roll the dough into a log and gently pat the top evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, carefully slice the logs. Using a serrated knife, on a diagonal, carefully cut 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices back onto the cookie sheet, cut-side down.
- Bake for 10 minutes then flip each cookie and bake an additional 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Store in a cookie tin or other airtight container (do not wrap in plastic wrap) for up to 2 weeks. Cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.