Here is my care package resume. In the last three years I have shipped a lot of cookies. Every week a box or two, filled with cookies baked with Monday Box love, embark on journeys short (Chicago, next day) and long (Afghanistan, 8 days plus). I have been blogging about my adventures in cookie travel for over two years. That’s a lot of cookie recipes. So my dilemma, when faced with choosing a recipe for this week’s Cookie Month ’14 theme, Best Shipping Cookies, was which to choose out of the many worthy candidates. The winner is Maple Biscotti.
Maple Biscotti are a shoe in. Biscotti are the ultimate travel cookie. They are meant to be dunking cookies, with a dry, crisp texture which enables the biscotti to stay fresh for a long time. Biscotti made with dried fruit or jam (like Fig Jam Biscotti) often soften if stored more than two weeks, but most other biscotti (like Snickers Biscotti or Chocolate Espresso Biscotti) will stay fresh for up to a month.
The difficult part was deciding what flavor biscotti to share for Cookie Month. The possibilities are limitless. If you like a flavor, chances are you can make biscotti that flavor. Maple is one of my favorite fall/winter flavors. Dipping a sweet, fragrant Maple Biscotti into a steaming cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate is wonderful on a blustery day. Traditional Italian biscotti are very hard, as in you could break your teeth hard. They are meant to be dunked, not nibbled on their own. I prefer a “dunking optional” sort of biscotti, sturdy enough to hold up to dunking, but tender enough to be munched on independently.
I loaded the Maple Biscotti with flavor from a variety of maple ingredients; maple sugar/maple syrup, maple flavoring, and King Arthur maple Flav-r-bites. The dough can be made with either maple sugar or maple syrup. The recipe includes directions for both. Maple sugar is made from 100% maple syrup and pours just like granulated sugar. Using maple syrup requires a little more flour and a short chilling time to accommodate the extra liquid in the dough.
In addition to maple flavoring, maple Flav-r-bites further boost this biscotti’s flavor profile. The tiny, lentil sized pellets look a bit like rabbit food. Straight out of the bag they are hard and crunchy and only mildly sweet. Baked into a batter, Flav-r-bites soften and infuse each bite of cookie with a burst of flavor. For Maple Biscotti, I just stirred the Flav-r-bites right into the dough. I think the Flav-r-bites add great flavor and a just right bit of extra crunch to these biscotti. To enjoy Maple Biscotti without Flav-r-bites, I suggest increasing the amount of maple flavoring to ¾-1 teaspoon. In my experience, King Arthur baking ingredients are top quality. Their maple sugar and maple Flav-r-bits take these Maple Biscotti up a notch.
With gift giving season around the corner, gazillion boxes of delectable home baked goodies will be winging their way across the country and around the world. I neglected to mention in my care package resume, that I have achieved Master Packer status. The goals of sending a care package include the joy you get from sending your love in a box and the joy of the care package recipient when they open their care package and indulge in the contents. Getting the contents to their destination intact and as fresh and tasty as possible requires just a bit of know how. These are my five top tips for care package mailing success.
Care Package Shipping Tips:
1. Choose your recipe wisely. Not all cookies are created equal. The best shipping cookies are sturdy and stay fresh at least five days. NOTHING REQUIRING REFRIGERATION (NO CREAM CHEESE FROSTING) SHOULD BE SHIPPED. That may seem obvious to some people, but I have learned that it is not obvious to everyone.
2. When you pack there should be zero wiggle room. Cookies that wiggle while traveling do not arrive intact. Gently shake your box before taping it up. If you hear something moving around, fix it.
3. Use whatever method is available to you to wrap the baked goods as air tight as possible. A vacuum sealer virtually ensures freshness, but not everyone has one. Double wrapping in plastic wrap or bags may be the next best option.
4. Never store soft and crunchy cookies in the same bag/container. The cookies will share the wealth of moisture and neither will have the right texture when they arrive.
5. Plastic wrap/bags do NOT keep out strong smells. If something mint flavored is in a package, let it fly solo or with other mint items, otherwise, everything will arrive minty whether you intended it or not. The same advice goes for including scented soaps or toiletries in the same box as baked goods. Axe, Brut, and Irish Spring are not meant to be cookie flavors.
Biscotti should be on everyone’s care package and gift giving recipe list. These Maple Biscotti are sure to bring a smile to anyone lucky enough to give them a bite or a dunk. Two dozen biscotti means a dozen to share and dozen to munch.
- BISCOTTI INGREDIENTS:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup maple sugar **see note below for using maple syrup instead
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼- ½ teaspoon maple flavoring
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all- purpose flour
- 1 cup King Arthur maple Flav-r-bites optional but recommended
- **NOTE** for using maple syrup in the dough to replace maple sugar: add ¼ cup maple syrup grade B, use an additional ½ cup flour, and chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before shaping into logs to reduce stickiness.
- ICING AND DECORATING INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons decorating sugar (I used 1 tablespoon each turbanado orange, gold
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter, sugar, (maple syrup if using), salt, vanilla extract, maple extract, and baking powder.
- Beat in eggs.
- Gradually add flour just until combined.
- Stir in Flav-r-bites.
- Place half of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and, using your hands and a spatula, form the dough into a smooth log approximately 10”x 2” and about ¾” thick. If the dough is too sticky to handle easily, refrigerate for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Allow at least 4” between loaves for spreading.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow dough logs to cool on the baking sheet for 10-20 minutes before slicing. Slice straight across the log, cutting about 12- ¾” thick biscotti from each log.
- Stand the biscotti on the baking sheet, close but not touching.
- Bake for an additional 15-20 at 325˚F, just until sliced sides of biscotti turn golden.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
- Icing: Place confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl and add maple syrup 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.
- Using a spoon to drizzle or a piping bag, add icing on the top of each biscotti.
- To add decorating sugar, immediately after icing each biscotti, hold over a bowl of decorating sugar, sprinkle the sugar to cover the wet icing. Gently tap excess sugar back into the bowl. Sprinkle each biscotti with decorating sugar before going on to the next.
- Allow to dry completely (about 1-2 hours depending on humidity) before moving.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 2 weeks.
**This post is sponsored by King Arthur Flour. They are one of our Cookie Month sponsors, partnering with us to create delicious cookie recipes for you to enjoy. **
Be sure to check out my Cookie Month partners and their amazing recipes: Jess at The 104 Homestead – Kathie at Homespun Seasonal Living – Tessa at Homestead Lady – Chris at Joybilee Farm – Sheila at Life Love Good Food – Nikki at Nik Snacks – Shari at Pure Grace Farms – Angi at Schneiderpeeps – Lauren at Wicked Spatula
The following companies generously sponsored this and other cookie month projects. I may not have used all of them in my recipes, but this project is in no small part thanks to them and their incredible contributions: Bob’s Red Mill, The Daily Meal, India Tree, KerryGold, King Arthur Flour, Products of GIR, KaTom, SunButter & Wilton.