A holiday tradition in the Vasios household is to decorate clementines by pressing whole cloves into the skin of the fruit. I've always loved the old-timey feel of this activity, as if Charles Dickens himself is going to pop into my dining room and say, "Carrie, my dear, stop being so stingy with those cloves. Who do you think you are, Ebeneezer Scrooge?"
Thus, for me, the smell of orange and clove is intricately tied to Christmas, and baking with them gives me a particular kind of joy. These biscotti are a great way to use those flavors, as well as other traditional holiday spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
Best of all, a generous portion of chopped, toasted walnuts and dried figs is folded into the batter. (Mr. Dickens, when he visits, can eat these biscotti as a replacement for figgy pudding.) Once the cookies have had their second turn in the oven, the biscotti become beautifully golden and crisp.
I'll be making big batches of these cookies in the coming weeks. Biscotti make an excellent present because they stay fresh for a fortnight or two.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.