World Peace through Baking Cookies
“C is for cookie. That’s good enough for me.” Cookie Monster
I have a project for you. How would you like to bake for world peace this holiday season? Well, maybe not total world peace, but we can make a difference baking for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan and at least bring a lot of sweetness that way. A wonderful idea is catching on fire on the web called “Operation Baking Gals,” which the “Gals” stands for “give a little support.”
It all started when a young woman, Susan Whetzel, (who is a confirmed bake-a-holic) had a cousin stationed in Iraq that was pleading for her to send him and his buddies a care package full of cookies to “boost moral.” She was somewhat hesitant to take on this project seeming that it would it would be hundreds of cookies to feed this fan club. Then a brilliant idea hatched, why not put out a plea to all her baking buddies to see who would help? Within an hour, she had over 10 people committed to bake at least 4 dozen cookies each, and Baking Gals was born.
I am enchanted with this simple but stunning idea and have become a team host on Baking Gals. I am recruiting people to bake cookies for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, dear readers, please go to http://www.bakinggals.com/ and sign up to be a baker and pick a team to bake on. Hopefully you’ll pick my team, which is called “Team Go-Lightly Gourmet.” If you do not do the web thing then email me at email@example.com and I’ll fill you in on the details.
The perfect cookie for this project is biscotti. Whatever Italian baker thought up biscotti deserves to be immortally remembered. It is low fat, keeps and ships well, and is utterly delicious. I have experimented, endlessly, to bring you the best holiday biscotti recipe that I have tasted. These biscotti are loaded with all the holiday flavors that will bring the Christmas hearth to our soldier’s or loved one’s mouths.
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 ¼ cups of packed brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
A dash of ground cloves
½ cup of coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup of dried cranberries
¼ cup of blackstrap molasses
2 large eggs
1 orange’s zest
½ bag of white chocolate chips, melted in a double boiler
Preheat the hearth fire (the oven) to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together and whisk till all mixed up, like Scrooge. Mix in the nuts and cranberries and mix a bit more. In a small bowl, whisk together the molasses, eggs and orange zest, then add to the dry mix till well blended and the dough starts to stick together. (If this is not happening then you have done something totally wrong. Just kidding, all you need to do is add a tablespoon or two of milk.)
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Work the dough, with lightly floured hands, into a nice fat Yule time log. Place the log on a cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil, and bake about 30 – 35 minutes. The top should be a tad cracked and spring back when gently pressed. Let it cool about 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the biscotti log to a cutting board and cut your biscotti diagonally, about ¾ inch thick. Return the slices to the cookie sheet and bake another 10 minutes (for slightly chewy) to 20 minutes (for teeth cracking hard).
Let them cool completely while you melt the white chocolate. Pour the melted white chocolate into a small, thick zip lock bag. Cut one of the bottom corners barely off the bag and gently squeeze the chocolate into a pattern on the biscotti. (You can also use a pastry bag.) It’s a good idea to allow the white chocolate to harden for about an hour or two before packing them up to ship or give away, if there is any left. We can bake for a better tomorrow!