Peaches Poached in Prosecco with Homemade Amaretti

Peaches Poached in Prosecco

I had an image of a classic, sparkling Bellini in my head while I was deciding what to do with some late summer fruit; and then I went from cocktail thoughts to the idea of sweet, chilled peaches in syrup, which made me want a crunchy little something to go with it, which led me to the oven to make some amaretti cookies. If you give a mouse a glass of Prosecco…

Poaching a peach softens its texture a bit, so it’s a good idea to use fruits that aren’t fully tree-ripened and ready to eat (if you’re lucky enough to get some of those), but not rock-hard, which is the way you’ll find most peaches when you bring them home from the cold-storage chill of the grocery store.  Getting the fruit a day in advance and leaving them out at room temperature overnight seems to do the trick.

These amaretti cookies are a lot like macaroons in texture – I prefer to very slightly underbake them to get a crunchy exterior and a chewy inside. The recipe makes more cookies than you’ll probably need for dipping into the peachy syrup, but they keep for weeks in an airtight container. They would be delicious crumbled over chocolate gelato or ice cream and a little whipped cream.

Homemade Amaretti Cookies

Peaches Poached in Prosecco with Homemade Amaretti

Serving Size: about 4 servings

Ingredients

  1. 4 peaches (freestone)
  2. 1 bottle Prosecco or dry sparkling wine
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  5. 1 tablespoon peach flavored liqueur
  6. Pinch sea salt
  7. Lemon verbena leaves, optional
  8. For the amaretti cookies:
  9. 1 2/3 cups blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted and cooled
  10. 2 cups powdered sugar
  11. 4 egg whites
  12. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  13. 1 teaspoon Amaretto (or add another teaspoon almond extract)
  14. 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Score an X on the bottom of each peach with a small sharp knife. Drop the peaches into a 3 -or 4 -quart saucepan of boiling water and simmer 5 minutes. Drain them and let cool for a few minutes before slipping off the skins. Slice the peaches into halves and remove the pits.
  2. Pour 3 cups Prosecco into the same saucepan. If the Prosecco is nice and cold, pour the remaining ½ cup into a glass and take a sip. If for some reason you’re not indulging in the bubbly, just pour the whole bottle into the pan (sadly).
  3. Stir the sugar, lemon juice, liqueur, salt and lemon verbena leaves if using into the Prosecco.
  4. Bring to a simmer and gently drop the peaches into the pan. Simmer the peaches until just tender when you poke them with a toothpick but not mushy, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours. Discard the lemon verbena leaves.
  5. To make the cookies: Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Grind the almonds with the powdered sugar in a food processor until finely ground, being careful not to grind too much or you’ll make almond paste.
  7. Whip the egg whites in a standing mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Add the extract and amaretto; with the mixer running gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the egg whites are very stiff and fluffy.
  8. Pour the almond mixture over the egg whites and gently fold with a spatula until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Scoop the batter into tablespoon-sized mounds 1-inch apart on the baking sheets (I like to use this stainless steel cookie scoop).
  9. Bake 12 – 15 minutes for a lightly golden cookie with a soft and chewy interior. Rotate the pans from front to back  and top to bottom halfway through baking so they bake evenly. Cool the cookies completely.
  10. Serve the peaches in small bowls with the cookies along side or crumbled over.

Notes

Amaretti recipe adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich.

http://familystylefood.com/2012/09/peaches-poached-in-prosecco-with-homemade-amaretti/

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

My Italian grandmother never made biscotti for me, but if she did I imagine that they would taste a lot like these, gently crunchy and sweet with lemon.

Biscotti are my favorite cookies to make because they don’t require much; no fussy rolling resting or cutting, which is the sort of process that makes me start to feel restless and fidgety – not the way I like to operate in this endlessly busy season.

And here’s another bonus – they’re perfect for holiday gift giving because they keep so well in a covered container. Bake a batch and stash away; when you need something for that last minute cookie tray you can take a deep, cleansing breath…one less thing on your holiday to-do list.

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Yield: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  1. 3 large eggs, separated
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  4. 1 cup pine nuts
  5. 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  6. 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
  7. 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  10. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl with remaining 3/4 cup sugar to form soft peaks.
  12. Stir in the melted butter, pine nuts, lemon extract and lemon zest.
  13. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add half the flour mixture to mixing bowl and stir; add the beaten egg whites, followed by the remaining flour. Stir on low speed until the dough is firm and slightly sticky.
  14. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Arrange the logs side by side on the baking sheet and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and cool the logs for about 10 minutes; transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices with a very sharp knife.
  16. Arrange the slices cut-side up on the baking sheet and bake 5 minutes on each side or until gently browned and crisp.
  17. Makes about 3 dozen.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl with remaining 3/4 cup sugar to form soft peaks.
  3. Stir in the melted butter, pine nuts, lemon extract and lemon zest.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add half the flour mixture to mixing bowl and stir; add the beaten egg whites, followed by the remaining flour. Stir on low speed until the dough is firm and slightly sticky.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Arrange the logs side by side on the baking sheet and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the logs for about 10 minutes; transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices with a very sharp knife.
  7. Arrange the slices cut-side up on the baking sheet and bake 5 minutes on each side or until gently browned and crisp.
http://familystylefood.com/2009/12/lemon-pine-nut-biscotti/

Toffee Oatmeal Chip Cookies

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I don’t know why I don’t bake cookies more often – they are such an excellent tool for bribing the kids to do the small, important jobs that happen to appear on their weekly chore lists, but for some reason don’t actually get done.  Like walking the dog.

We adopted Poppy, our little Jack Russell-mixed mutt, almost a year ago and since then she’s been keeping our family busy, taking us for walks and arranging playdates. So very busy.

How was I to know that the same dog who greeted us for the first time by docilely flopping down at our feet, presenting us with her soft, pink underbelly would turn out to rival Perez Hilton in her intense need to meet, greet and butt-sniff every dog in the neighborhood?

I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the walking – it’s great exercise and all, but after a few trips around the block in a day I prefer to delegate the job.

I pulled a few pans of these Toffee Oatmeal Chip cookies from the oven and set them on the counter to cool, and like magic my children began to float around me like happy, dizzy dust motes. It occurred to me that I was in the position of ultimate power: Alpha Mom with Treats. Oh, you’d like a cookie? Walk the dog first.

Bingo! The lead was on Poppy’s collar and she was flying out the door with a child attached in two seconds flat.   A win-win for all parties. I love that!

Heidi Swanson was the inspiration for this particular cookie recipe. Her healthy cooking blog 101 Cookbooks is one of my favorite sites, and my copy of her cookbook Super Natural Cooking has pages falling out from over-use. One recipe I’d flagged and have been meaning to try is Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was intrigued by the recipe because it calls for an ingredient that I’d never heard of or seen before (gasp!) – mesquite flour.

It turns out that mesquite flour can be difficult to track down. Commonly used as a staple among Native Americans of the Southwest,  mesquite flour (also labeled mesquite powder or meal) is made from the ground fruit pods from mesquite trees and is said to be super-nutritious.  What got me interested is Heidi’s description of its flavor; smoky, malty, sweet and chocolate-like.

I didn’t get my hands on some until just recently; my friend L brought some back after scouting it out at the super-duper Whole Foods flagsip store in Austin. (An online source for mesquite meal is the Raw Guru site.)

I made a batch of the cookies, and really liked the toffee-like quality the mesquite flour added. Since Heidi recommends substituting an equal amount of flour in place of the mesquite,  I tweaked her recipe a bit to make it a bit more accessible – I realize that most (sane) people don’t go to such lengths to find an unfamiliar ingredient.

These cookies have a similar texture and taste, perfectly good bait for anyone you need to gently influence – wink.

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Toffee Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Adapted from Heidi Swanson

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour

1/2 cup malted milk powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup chopped toffee (I used Heath brand)

1 cup chocolate chips (I like dark but use whatever you like)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. Line 2 or 3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment or reusable non-stick sheet like Silpat.

Combine the flours, malt powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the sugars, starting with the granulated sugar, beating until incorporated before adding the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a thick dough forms.

Lower mixer speed to “stir” and add the oats, toffee and chocolate chips until evenly mixed. The dough should be dense and moist.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart to allow cookies to spread. Bake one sheet at a time for about 13 minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Cool on the pan 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely, or until it’s time to walk the dog.

Yield: 3 – 4  dozen cookies

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