Make your own biscotti

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When I’m on vacation or have a day off, I like to cook — to make something different.

Last week, my husband and I spent the week away from work and took time to do things we both wanted to do — from going to the beach to taking long walks and trying a new restaurant for our anniversary.

I also made a few recipes that have been on my “to-do” list for some time. One of those was a cherry-chocolate chip biscotti recipe that I have made a few times since I first saw it in a Light & Tasty magazine in 2007.

I love hot tea, and biscotti make the tea even better!

Biscotti are long, crunchy cookies that are baked twice to dry them. If you visit coffee shops often, you have probably seen packaged biscotti for sale at the checkout counter. They are delicious dipped in a beverage. I dip mine in hot chai latte or hot chocolate. I’m always surprised how a quick dip in the hot tea immediately softens the crunchy cookie, making it the perfect texture to enjoy. My daughter has always liked to dip her biscotti in cold milk. It’s delicious that way as well.

This particular biscotti recipe is a favorite for me because of the combination of dried cherries and chocolate chips.

The recipe is very simple to make. The most time-consuming task is cutting the sticky, dried cherries. I’ve never had any luck cutting them effectively except to cut them in halves or quarters with kitchen shears. It’s worth the effort, though, for the delicious cherry taste when you bite down on the little cookies.

The cookie dough is first baked in two, rounded rectangles on a cookie sheet. Next, the cookies are sliced and baked again, giving them a unique shape.

There are many variations of biscotti and many add-ins including pistachios, walnuts, cranberries, coconut and a variety of spices. Many cooks dip or drizzle chocolate on the finished product for added flavor.

Just mentioning these options makes me want to experiment with another recipe to keep the kitchen canister filled during hot tea season!

Cherry-Chocolate Chip Biscotti

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 eggs

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I omitted because I didn’t have any)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped (I cut with kitchen shears)

1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat sugar and oil until blended. Beat in the eggs, egg whites and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half. With lightly floured hands, shape each portion into a 12-inch by 3-inch rectangle (will be rounded); place each on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully remove to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a cutting board; cut across the shorter way with a serrated knife into 3/4-in. slices. Place cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn and bake 5 to 7 minutes longer or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.

Taste of Home Kitchen