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One of the primary motivators for my baking is because buying dessert everyday is too expensive. Yes, I crave sweets everyday, and most often of the pastry variety. Chocolate bars and candies don’t satisfy me. I was examining my Mint budget for the month of October, and was shocked at how much of it went to buying random snacks to tide over an afternoon lull. This must stop!

Enter the matcha, ginger, and almond biscotti. I had crystallized ginger from an oatmeal, white chocolate and ginger cookie recipe, and I had matcha powder from a previous iteration of a green tea shortbread cookie. I also had slivered almonds from a chocolate granola recipe – triple win! Efficient, and makes good use of existing ingredients I have in my pantry.

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Biscotti is cool because it’s a double-baked cookie. First it is shaped into a flat loaf and then baked till just firm on the outside, and then sliced into the familiar biscotti shape and then baked again. I’m not sure why this is so. Is it because biscotti is meant to be a long-lasting, storage food? 

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The one thing that I’m not so crazy about this recipe is the strong eggy taste. It might not be so discernible if you weren’t looking out for it, but it was strange to me. The exclusion of any fat whatsoever necessitates the additional eggs, so I think it would be inherent to any biscotti recipe, unless you get a bastardized American version that’s softer and chewier. Nevertheless, this biscotti is great to dip into a hot cup of tea and munch on.

Matcha (Green Tea) Ginger and Almond Biscotti
From Big Biscotti Bake

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup roughly chopped almonds
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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2. In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and matcha powder.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract.

4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5. Add the crystallized ginger and almonds, and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 to 20 times.

6. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes. Press the top of each log with granulated sugar.

7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

IMG_4002This may look like a nondescript oatmeal white chocolate chip cookie. But little did you know that when you bite into it, there would be unexpected warmth and spice from the candied ginger chunks that cuts the sweetness of the white chocolate a little bit. What I like best about these cookies is how it is reminiscent of the winter holidays. The flavors are definitely very seasonal, and somehow the combination of oats, ginger, white chocolate and honey just feel like a warm, comforting embrace.

Which explains why I have eaten so many. Nom nom noms.

Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate and Candied Ginger Chunks
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes about 50 cookies

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (It’s okay to use all-purpose flour although I suspect whole wheat can add a nutty, earthy, wholesome flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In medium bowl, combine oats, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Using electric mixer at high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg, honey, and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add oat mixture and mix at low speed just until incorporated. Stir in white chocolate chocolate and ginger. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or until slightly stiffer. In the interest of time optimization, I recommend doing the dishes now.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake until golden and slightly crisp on edges, about 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

IMG_3965I inherited some limes from my workplace's Frozen Drink Friday happy hour, and made a key lime pie. This is probably my first deliberate endeavor into slightly more gluten-free baking. I had some almond flour left over from my macaron-making adventures (which turned out to be quite dissatisfactory, and is the reason why no mention of it has been made) and decided to incorporate it into the key lime pie, which traditionally has a graham cracker crust. I also happened to have some ginger at home, which is probably one of my favorite spices which unfortunately gets little use in my kitchen. I grated some into the crust mixture, and voila – spicy, nutty, tart flavor explosion.

What you see here though, was actually my second attempt at a key lime pie using this recipe. For my first attempt, I tried to avoid using condensed milk and used rehydrated powdered milk instead but that didn't end up so well.

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The pie filling was crumbly and powdery, and nothing like the silky texture I was hoping for. But I knew I found a winner with the ginger almond crust and I simply had to try again, even if it meant going to the store and buying a can of condensed milk for the express purpose of this pie. (And you know I’m not terribly fond of purchasing recipe-specific ingredients since it leads to wastage.)

Fortunately my second attempt turned out much better. The pie filling, with its simplicity of ingredients, really is fail-proof. It’s smooth and tart, and contrasts well with the nutty crust. I like that the crust is not just a base for holding the pie filling, but actually contains a unique flavor of its own. Its texture is a little chewy, somewhat resembling a granola bar. It is modifiable to be entirely gluten-free if you so desire, but not in an overt way that might put off food purists.

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Key Lime Pie with Ginger Almond Crust
Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour (Feel free to use all almond flour or change around the proportions a little bit as long as you use 1 cup of flour eventually)
2 tbsp butter, softened.
1.5 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
2 tbsps honey
30g brown sugar

Heat oven to 350 F. Line an 9-inch round pan with parchment paper, or use a pie dish if you have one. Mix all the ingredients together into a clumpy mix. Use your hands to mix it more evenly, if necessary. Press into the base of round pan. Bake for 10 minutes until edges of the crust is very lightly browned. Leave to cool.

Pie Filling
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp grated lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice (I used the juice of two large limes)
1 (14 oz) can of condensed milk

Mix egg yolks, lime zest, and lime juice. When mixture is homogenous, stir in condensed milk. Pour mixture into crust and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. The pie filling should still be glossy and wet. Let it cool out of the oven, and then refrigerate at least a couple of hours so the pie filling sets.