There has been an explosion of cookies and cakes and soups in the Kohr household. Bottles of red wine have served as the accompaniment and bang loudly on the piano keys as Mish and I clap flour into the air with sugar-painted fingertips. I have licked spatulas and spun on barstools, letting the champagne bubbles slosh with the sugar and then I feel oh-so-deliciously dizzy.
Because...TWO DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS! Company comes today, beginning with my dear friend and previous California roommate, Ariel. A few years ago we bonded over our fake IDs and tried on black dresses before diving into cabs (this was all pre-uber) and then crawled back into our apartment for pizza rolls and Comedy Central. Now we've matured and drink our wine on sofas while wearing pajammies. It's all very cozy and pine-scented.
Christmas is cookie season. Maybe it's because Christmas cookies are easy to snatch up as you jingle-bell-rock your way around the Christmas party. Maybe it's because when you find yourself under the mistletoe with a handsome mystery guest you're glad you taste like sugar and peppermint. Maybe it's because it's the end of the year and you did a good job throughout all of your successes and heartbreak and struggles and drunken nights and you're just so ready to b-r-e-a-t-h-e.
The years take a toll on the body, both mentally and physically. This year I've moved across the country and began to carry the bulk of my loving relationships through word and sound rather than sight and touch. I've said goodbye to over-the-counter medications and hello to yoga and meditation. Suddenly the United States doesn't seem so big and the world looks more like a playground than a map. But I'm not the most agile of beings, and jumping onto the monkey bars can lead to a tumble in the mulch.
Falling down happens. And when we set expectations for ourselves and those around us, the fall can be all the more painful. Letting go and plopping into the dirt isn't necessarily the desired outcome, but it happens. And maybe we should just stop staring up at the monkey bars, wondering why they're so difficult to cross, and enjoy the entire playground.
AKA - I can work on being less self-involved, and focus more on my friends and family and strangers. Because every island is connected by the same earthy strand-o-land, am I right?!! And Christmas seems like the perfect time to remember that, right?!! And maybe we should all just chill for a second and give out cookies, RIGHT?!!!!
Okay, right. This biscotti recipe. Mish made it for the holidays long ago, and my 8-year-old self dismissed it because it contained nuts and fruit. But, oh, oh, OH, with the orange zest and the batter studded with apricot gems and salty pistachios, this biscotti is perfect for those pre-Christmas mornings and those late evenings. It's a people food, and one of the many cookies I plan to share with my friends this holiday season.
I hope you do the same.
pistachio and apricot biscotti
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup roasted pistachios, unsalted
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high untillight and fluffy.
Add the eggs, orange peel, and vanilla to the mixer. Beat until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture. Once just incorporated, beat in the pistachios and apricots.
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each part into 12 inch logs, and place the logs 3 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, and allow to cool for 10. Cut each log in 12-16 diagonal slices. Return the biscotti back to the baking sheet, and flip them onto their back, so that the sliced side faces upwards. Bake for 20 minutes more.
It's cold in Virginia! Now I've really got to bundle up. :)