Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cornmeal-Currant Biscotti

Cornmeal-Currant Biscotti
Lately I've been working on my 2010 Bake List - things I'd like to learn to bake that I've never tried (like homemade puff pastry and other laminated doughs) and recipes that have caught my eye in cookbooks and blogs and magazines. But more often than not, I find myself baking something different from this list. More often than not, I find myself right in the middle of that poem spawned by the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books. The poem made its way through the email circulation a few years back. If you're a mom, you certainly received this one:

If You Give A Mom A Muffin

If you give a mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she'll find dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her
she has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook
("101 Things To Do With a Pound of Hamburger").
The cookbook is setting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The check book is in her purse
that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two-year-old's diaper.
While she is changing the diaper, the phone will ring.
Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.
She'll remember she wants to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her
that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are... If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it. (author unknown)

This is exactly what my days feels like, even though I'm no longer a mom of a two- and a five-year-old. Many days, I do not feel in control of my day, my day controls me and I get distracted and move from one spot to another in the house finding things that need to be done. For example, yesterday I wrote on my to-do-list: replace lost button on Mark's shirt, order vitamins from Shaklee, find out what to do with our 20-year-old textbooks still collecting dust in our attic, and exercise for 30 minutes. After exercising on the treadmill (I'm serious about this 10 in 1o program!), I went into the laundry room (aka the collect-all-things-random room) and found the empty canister that I like to keep granola in. I remembered that I was out of granola - again - so I prepared to make some. Walking into the pantry to find the oats and coconut, I see the pantry in complete disarray from throwing things in there in a rush during the holiday craze. I cleaned out the messiest areas of the pantry and found that I have two opened boxes and one unopened box of Sunmaid zante currants. I try to remember what I was planning to make with all those currants. Not able to remember, I continue making the granola. While it's baking, I get on the web and get caught up on the blogs I read. I came across a posting for an Apricot Tart and in that post was a link to the PBS video series for Julia Child. I watch chef Michel Richard demonstrate how to make puff pastry and pull out the companion book Baking with Julia to find the recipe. Is this when I will finally get to the puff pastry I've wanted to try? No, it's not. While I was browsing through the book, I came upon the recipe for Cornmeal Currant Biscotti, just perfect for dipping into a cup of hot tea. That reminds me that I have currants to use up in the pantry and I whip up a batch. Maybe I'll get to the 2010 Bakelist, and order the vitamins, and figure out what to do with all those old textbooks... tomorrow.

You can view Nick Malgieri and Julia Child making these biscotti here. But don't blame me if you get distracted and watch all of Julia's baking videos in one day and never get to that to-do list!
One year ago: Pecan Sticky Buns

Tools helpful for making this recipe: Microplane Grater, Silpat mat, Wusthof serrated knife, a large cutting board

Cornmeal Currant Biscotti
adapted from Baking with Julia, recipe from Nick Malgieri

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6-8 pieces
1 cup currants
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (reserve the egg white)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter pieces, and using your fingers, rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the currants.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolk with the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until mostly combined. Using your hands, knead the mixture 5 to 10 times in the bowl until the mixture is uniform and holds together. The dough will seem dry compared to other biscotti you may have made. If it doesn't hold together, add a bit of the reserved egg white and knead a few more times until the dough holds together. Divide the dough in half and, right on the baking sheet, shape each half into a flattened log about 2 inches wide and 1 inch high. Bake the logs for 20 minutes or until the logs start to lightly brown around the edges and is firm when touched lightly with your finger.
Remove from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and let the logs cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Carefully transfer the logs to a large wooden cutting board and slice the logs on a diagonal with a large serrated knife about a 1/2 inch thick. Place the slices back on the baking sheet an bake for an additional 15 minutes. The cookies will become more crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight container up to one month.


  1. I had to laugh at that poem, and I'm not even a Mom. It's so true what they say: Moms DO have the toughest job in the world. I take my hat off to all of you who are mothers. You amaze me in all that you do.

  2. I love the poem, but I like your re-cap even better! That's just how I feel too! A day without distraction would do this house wonders!

  3. Yep, that's how it is around my house!

  4. I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

  5. Last time I went to my my friend's house he offered to me cornmeal-currant biscotti and of course I accepted. Then I asked is it sweet or salty ? but friend just smiled and said to me you just try it! It is delicious..



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