After a holiday event at the Village Blend coffeehouse, Manager Clare Cosi goes looking for her customer and friend who never showed up. Alfred Glockner, one of New York’s Traveling Santa never did arrive to play Santa this year. With concern for her friend Clare attempts to track him down only to discover him gunned down in a nearby alley. Knowing there is more to the crime than a mugging gone badly; Clare sets out, on her own to find out what happened to Alfred. Clues and leads are discovered at every turn along with running the Village Blend.
This book is truly a fun read. Including everything one would want to know about coffee and recipes for all of the goodies mentioned in the book.
Whether you are traveling near or far this holiday season consider sharing Clare’s Mini Red and Green Holiday Biscotti (featured in Holiday Grind) with your family and friends.
Enjoy the recipe!
Clare’s Mini Red and Green Holiday Biscotti
Makes 36-40 Mini Biscotti
1 cup dried cranberries, or “Craisins”
1 cup pistachios
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk (save the egg white for glaze)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups white chocolate, chopped into small pieces or use chips
Step 1- Prepare Red and Green Goodies
Place dried cranberries in a bowl and cover with hot tap water to plump up. Let sit for at least 15 minutes but no longer than an hour. Drain well before adding to recipe. For pistachios: Remove shells, measure out 1 cup’s worth, then roughly chop with ladle or meat hammer. (If using a food processor or spice grinder, be careful. You want roughly chopped pistachios not green powder.)
Step 2- Make Dough
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, egg yolk, and sugar for 2 full minutes. Add vanilla and melted (and cooled) butter and beat for another full minute. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and ground cinnamon. Now marry your wet and dry ingredients, mixing only enough to form dough. Fold in drained, dried cranberries and roughly chopped pistachios. (At this stage, Clare dusts her hand with flour and uses her fingers to fold in the goodies, making sure they’re evenly incorporated. Just take care not to over work the dough.)
Step 3- Form Logs and Glaze
Divide dough into two equal portions. On a floured surface use floured fingers to form each portion into a round log measuring 12-inches and no more than 1-inch in diameter. Place both logs onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicon sheets to prevent sticking. Press down lightly to flatten a bit. These skinny logs will spread out more during baking so be sure they’re well separated. Using a pastry brush, glaze the unbaked logs with the reserved egg white (just whip it up a bit with a fork before brushing). Now sprinkle both logs with granulated sugar. The glaze will help brown the logs and hold them together when you slice them.
Step 4- Bake and Slice
Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on your oven). Logs are finished baking when they are light golden brown, firm to the touch, and cracking a bit on the surface. Remove from oven, transfer off the hot baking sheet, and let cool completely. Wait at least 1 hour (3 is better) and slice up like a loaf of bread. Ideally, cookies should be about ¾ of an inch in thickness. Each log will yield 18 to 20 mini-biscotti, depending on how thick or thin you slice them.
Step 5- Second Baking
In Italian the term “biscotti” actually means baked again. So turn the sliced mini-cookies onto their sides and bake again, in 350*F oven, for 8 minutes on one side, then carefully (don’t burn your fingers) turn over and bake another 7 minutes on the other side. You want your cookies to dry out and toast a bit on the surface.
Step 6- Dip in White Chocolate
Let your biscotti cool completely and then dip the top edges of each cookie with melted white chocolate. (Melting chocolate is easy but tricky. See melting instructions at the of this recipe.) Set your freshly chocolate-dipped cookies on flat plates covered with wax parchment paper for easy clean-up. (Do not use paper towels. They’ll stick to the chocolate) Waite until chocolate hardens before moving again. To speed up this process, I pop the plates in the freezer for 5 minutes (just be sure to use the wax or parchment paper or some may freeze to the plate).
Clare’s Crumble Alert
Here are four tips to help prevent mini-biscotti from crumbling. 1) Let your logs cool completely, 3-4 hours is best. You can even allow the cooling logs to rest overnight. 2) Use a sharp, non-serrated knife. 3) Press straight down. No sawing. 4) Don’t try to slice cookies any thinner than ½ inch (3/4 of an inch is ideal). Inevitably, a cookie or two will break apart. No worries, a few usually do (and you wanted to taste them anyway, didn’t you?)
How to Melt Chocolate
WARNING: make sure your bowls, pans, and utensils are completely dry before you begin. Even a few drops of water can make the chocolate seize up!
Easy Microwave method
Place chopped chocolate pieces or chocolate chips in a dry microwave-safe bowl and warm on medium power for only 30 seconds. (Why? Because you are trying to prevent scorching, which will ruin the taste of your chocolate) Now take the bowl out of the microwave and stir it with a dry rubber spatula. Continue warming, 30 seconds at a time, stopping to stir each time. As the chocolate gets closer to melting completely, shorten the interval to 15 seconds, continuing to stir until the chocolate is just melted. Because of their milk solids, white chocolate and milk chocolate are more sensitive to scorching than dark, so be careful not to overheat.
You can find this recipe, and others in the Coffee House Mystery series!
We at Ingenious Travel want to make sure you’re well fed throughout the holiday season! Do you have a favorite holiday cookie? If so, please list it below. Contact us to learn about culinary trips, which are a treat any time of year!