I am so excited to announce that I've joined another baking group! Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets has started a baking group called Sweet Melissa Sundays! Every Sunday, we'll be baking one of the recipes from an incredible book, The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, and posting about our experiences on our blogs. I've been on the fence about joining another baking group (there are TONS of them out there!) but when I saw that Lorelei started a group I just had to join. I've been following her blog for a while now and it's truly fabulous. Plus, she's a fellow lawyer, and we have to stick together :) I'm thrilled that I'm joining this group at the start so I'll get to bake each and every recipe from the book with the group. If you're interested, you can learn more about our group here and heck, maybe you'll even want to join us!
Our fearless founder, Lorelei, chose the first recipe for this week: honey beescotti! I will admit that I'm not a huge fan of biscotti (mostly because I don't drink coffee or tea so I don't have anything to dunk them in!) but I was still excited about this recipe because it includes honey, candied orange peel and almonds. Those ingredients sounded like they would work so well together that I knew these would be delicious.
I decided to try my hand at making my own candied orange peel for this recipe instead of buying it and it was a really fun experience. I've included the recipe I used below (as well as some photos) if you want to give it a shot! It's simple, if not a bit time consuming. I rolled half of my candied peels in sugar and left the others plain. I used the ones rolled in the sugar for this recipe. I haven't been brave enough to eat one but they look really pretty!
I was surprised by how little trouble these biscotti gave me. Yes, the dough is a bit sticky and was somewhat challenging to shape but a little dusting of flour made it very manageable. Otherwise, things went well. Some other members of the group reported problems with their dough spreading, so I chilled mine well before baking it and it cooperated beautifully. The real clincher for me though was how nicely the logs cut after their first bake. Every time I make biscotti I dread cutting them after the first bake because mine always tend to morph into a crumbly mess. Not this time though! I did a little dance of happiness when I saw how cute they were as they headed back into the oven for their second bake.
Despite my aversion to biscotti I simply had to try one of these when they cooled. The house smelled so delightful as they baked that I couldn't help myself. The verdict? The flavors are wonderful! No one flavor overwhelms the others - they just work together perfectly. I loved the hint of honey and the subtle almond flavor. I didn't think there were enough candied orange pieces though so next time I would definitely add a few more to the dough. I skipped the caraway seeds the recipe calls for because I really don't like them. I'll be giving the rest of the biscotti away tomorrow and can't wait to hear the report from others!
Thanks again to Lorelei both for starting this group and for her selection this week! She has posted the recipe (and some fab photos of her biscotti!) on her blog if you'd like to give it a shot!
Candied Orange Peel
2 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup water
Cut the tops and bottoms off of the oranges and score them into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Pour off the water from the pot and then repeat this process 2 more times. Remove the orange peels from the pan.
Whisk the sugar and water together in the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes or until a thermometer registers about 230 to 234 F (the soft thread stage). Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing the heat if necessary to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Remove the peels from the pan and place them on a rack or on parchment paper to dry. If desired, you can roll the peels in sugar before drying them.