Crystallized ginger (Recipe: ginger-apricot biscotti)
When I was young, I learned a thing or two about folk remedies.
My grandmother taught me that chicken soup would cure all ills.
My mother taught me that Hershey chocolate bars could cure what chicken soup could not.
Nobody taught me that chewing crystallized ginger could help restore equilibrium, combat sea sickness, mitigate hot flashes, and alleviate symptoms of the common cold -- or that it would taste so amazingly good in gingersnaps, cheesecake, ginger pear bran muffins, ginger pecan biscotti, scones, espresso brownies, and cranberry-apricot-ginger chutney.
Crystallized ginger is fresh ginger that has been peeled, cut into small pieces, boiled in a simple syrup of sugar and water, and then rolled in granulated sugar. It's pungent and sweet, easy to make, easy to find in grocery stores (look in the baking aisle) and Asian markets, and easy to buy online (I like Penzeys' Australian ginger).
When you shop for crystallized ginger (also called candied ginger), be sure to read the ingredients. Sometimes sulfur dioxide is added to help fix the color; if possible, buy a product that contains only ginger and sugar.
Stored in an airtight container, crystallized ginger will keep for up to two years. If it clumps or the sugar on the outside of the individual pieces begins to deteriorate, the ginger has passed its prime and should be replaced.
I always have crystallized ginger in my pantry.
I have Hershey bars in the pantry, too. For medicinal purposes, of course.
Last summer, many bloggers cooked from Faith Heller Willinger's Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. I made two recipes: chicken with herbs, cooked under a brick, and these biscotti. Easy, quick, and needing only one baking, they were so delicious that I decided to make them again, adapting the recipe slightly. Makes 20.
3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp demarara sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Combine the flour, baking powder, powdered ginger, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut the chilled butter into the flour and sugar mixture (or pulse in a food processor). Add the chopped crystallized ginger, dried fruits and apple to the flour-sugar mixture.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and cream together, and add to the dried ingredients. Mix quickly, until the dough comes together. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper, pat out to an 8-by-10 inch rectangle that's 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 2-1/2 inch squares.
Bake on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat (silicone liner) or parchment paper for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.