Ginger is one of those ingredients that occasionally inspire actual cravings. It is floral and fragrant with a subtle heat that warms a body from the inside out. It is a rhizome, which is an underground stem that is capable of producing both the shoot and the root system of new plants. Fresh ginger can be beautiful with its silky texture and gnarly appearance. Good ginger is heavy for it’s size, indicating a high level of moisture and knobby-looking with a satiny mauve skin. It can be purchased in many different forms but the two most common are pieces of the fresh root and small jars of dried, ground ginger.
It is well known as an herbal remedy for nausea and upset stomach. Ginger ale and saltines are a standard remedy the world over for sick and queasy patients. Ginger candies can be very helpful during bouts of morning and motion sickness. For aches and pains my mother always recommends tying slices of fresh ginger in cheesecloth and submerging the package in your bathwater at home. A hot soak yields clear sinuses and loosened muscles. Pickled ginger is served with sushi for its antimicrobial and digestive powers in order to help counteract any ill effects that may occur from the raw seafood. For all its homespun magic, studies show that ginger can inhibit blood clotting in cancer patients. It’s potency and efficacy should not be underestimated by anyone with a compromised immune system.
In the wintertime when the weather is raw and damp, ginger root calls to me, begging for a place on the table. Alex made his gingerbread sauce and I went with something sweet. Fresh ginger biscotti with chunks of milk chocolate. These cookies are delicious and surprisingly addictive. Even if you manage to control the impulse to eat more than one at a time, the beauty of biscotti is their keeping qualities. A large batch will live happily in a cookie jar on the countertop for as long as you are able to keep them around. These cookies crumble nicely, making them baby friendly unless you can't stand the sight of crumbs. Of course if that’s truly the case these cookies won't be to your liking anyway. You’ll just have to find some other ginger recipe to play with…
Fresh Ginger and Milk Chocolate Biscotti
230 grams/8 ounces cold sweet butter
35grams/ 1 ounce peeled and sliced fresh ginger root
100 grams/1/2 cup sugar
100 grams/ ½ cup light brown sugar
100 grams/1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 large cold eggs
510 grams/18 ounces AP flour
11/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
120 grams/4 ¼ ounces AP flour
230 grams/8 ounces milk chocolate chunks (Valrhona Tanariva Lactee Callets)
Combine butter, ginger and sugars in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is fully blended and looks like wet sand. There should be no visible chunks of ginger let. Add the eggs one at a time, pulsing to blend in each egg before adding the next. Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder until well blended. Add all of the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together.
Sprinkle the counter with the remaining 120g of flour and turn the dough out onto the flour. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate onto the dough and use a bench scraper to fold the dough around the chocolate. Add the next third and fold it into the dough. Add the final third and fold it until the dough is smooth and the chocolate is incorporated. Divide the dough in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 325°F convection. Line two half sheet trays with parchment or foil.
Divide the first piece of dough in half and gently roll it out into a log approximately 10”x2” and place it on one of the prepared sheet trays. Do the same with the remaining half of the dough and place it on the other side of the sheet tray, leaving equal amounts of space between the two logs and from each side of the sheet tray. Do the same thing with the second piece of dough. Bake the logs for 23-28 minutes until the log are golden brown and cooked through. Slice each log on an angle into 1-inch thick pieces. Set the end pieces aside for snacks. Lay the slices out on the sheet trays and return them to the oven. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the slices are golden brown and dry to the touch. Let the cookies cool on the sheet trays before serving.