white chocolate cranberry almond biscotti: another year, another round of joyous giving.

If you haven't been able to tell already, I love Christmas. I love the smells associated with it (mellow nutmeg, sweet cinnamon, spicy cloves), the music (Carol of the Bells - reminds me of singing in the Christmas choral show of my youth), the joy (when someone's eyes light up and crinkle into unending smiles when they recieve a thoughtful gift, or see a long lost friend or family member - another reason to also adore airports, especially the arrivals gate), and the food (cooking, to me, is a medium for bringing those around me closer, and sharing cheer).
Every year, I make Christmas gifts. My standard for the past few holidays has been truffles in little hand made boxes, either with snowflakes drawn on the outside, or a texture of paper mache. However, this year, I thought I would try something different. A throwback to the 70s - Ephram's Bottle Cutter.
Since I have been entertaining so much this past little while, I gained a growing (still!) collection of wine bottles on top of my shelves. I have always been a proponent of Buy-Nothing Christmas (well, as little as you can), and so attempt to do so every year while making spectacular gifts for friends and family. This year - individualized cups, frosted of course, with cute sayings such as 'brush your teeth' or 'drink me', filled with as many biscotti as I can fit (I attempted three, but had to narrow it down to two each - they were huge pieces!!).
This is the first set of biscotti that I made for presents. Almonds and cranberries remind me of this lovely season, as well as compliment each other oh-so-well.
White Chocolate Cranberry Almond Biscotti(adapted from Joy of Baking)

2/3 c. white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. almonds, chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries

1 c. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whip white sugar and eggs with a hand held blender for five minutes, until when you pull out the beaters the eggs fall in slow ribbons. Blend in vanilla extract until incorporated.

2. Combine flour, and salt. Combine egg mix and flour mix until fully incorporated. Add in almonds and cranberries and mix them in fully.

3. Place the biscotti dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, and make it into a long shape, about 12 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide.

4. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove it and let it cool until you are able to touch it. Cut it into 3/4 inch slices, on a diagonal to make the slices longer. Reduce the heat in the oven to 325 F.
5. Place the biscotti, with the sliced side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flip all the pieces over and bake for another 10. Remove and let cool.

6. Melt the chocolate with a double boiler. Drizzle over the pieces, or dip one side in.

7. Pray. Eat. Enjoy making presents for those you love.