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09 December 2010

Baking Season Continues-with Fennel Pollen

The weather is dark and dreary with intermittent rain and fog... ah, the Central Valley of California winter. This is also perfect baking weather! The oven on making the kitchen all toasty and the windows get condensation, allowing my weird cat to lick them. The smell of baking permeates the house too... whether it's chocolate chip cookies, or cake.. the smell of baking sugar, eggs and flour is just comforting. More so comforting to me, it the smell of anise, or fennel. As an Italian American, I love love love this smell. It reminds me of my heritage, of cousins and big bowls of pasta and my grandmother, in her wheelchair, making cannoli and pizzelles in their small apartment kitchen in Vista, California. THAT smell, of anise and fennel, more than most, makes me miss being a child at Christmas.
This afternoon, I decided to make biscotti, the twice baked hard cookies that come in those wrappers sitting on the counter at your local coffee place. But mine, are better. They are made from scratch and most of all love. I can't help it, there is too much history behind this particular recipe. I also have another biscotti recipe too, that aren't typical "biscotti"... but those come later. I also am using a new flavoring, Fennel Pollen. (wha..?) Yes, it's true. I made a friend and I am utilizing organic, local, and sustainable fennel pollen from Pollen Ranch. And, as it turns out, it is wonderful!! There is a certain flavor from the pollen that just takes these cookies to "another level"... more gourmet, more... um... just MORE. 

credit to my grandmother, Josephine Altieri

Preheat oven to 375

Spray a sheet pan with non stick spray or grease, 
or use parchment paper

1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 TB Fennel Pollen
1 TB Vanilla extract
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 TB baking powder

Mix together shortening, sugar, eggs, pollen and vanilla. Beat well, until light. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture in batches, mixing well after each addition. It will be a very stiff dough, so don't think that you did something wrong. Divide and form into 2 logs, press down to 1/2 inch thickness. Bake the logs 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.
Remove and allow to cook until you can handle them. Slice crosswise on the bias using a serrated blade. Place cut side down back onto baking sheets and place in oven for 5-7 minutes per side until lightly toasted. 
Remove from oven, allow to cool and place in air tight container for up to 2 weeks. 
You can also melt some chocolate and coat these particular biscotti.

 They are, yes, relatively plain, but great with your espresso in the morning. They also travel and ship well...in time for the holidays!!
I have more recipes coming... especially this weekend and next, so check back often!

Buon Natale!!

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