Guest Blogger: Introducing Krystan Asselin
I’d like to introduce my guest blogger to you today, Krystan Asselin, a high school senior, and dessert-maker extraordinaire! Krystan sent me this luscious looking picture of Chocolate Biscotti while we were in Florida on Christmas vacation and I immediately asked her if she would consider doing a guest blogging post for my blog. Delightfully, she said yes! There aren’t as many pictures as I usually put in my step-by-step instructions, but I do have a recipe and a couple of pictures so you can see the end product.
Krystan is an active homeschooler who will graduate in May. Along the way she has taken online college classes at Dallas Baptist University along with being active in their homeschooling co-ops through the years. Krystan is an amazing teenager who has sang in choir for years, is an aficionado at scrap-booking, a domestic goddess when it comes to cooking and baking, and fabulous with kids.
She has been on many mission trips with members at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, Texas, including several to work Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. About three summers ago I asked Krystan and her older sister, Stephanie, if they wanted to accompany me to Wyoming for Frontier Days. Our church was hosting a mission trip there to pass out water to tourists with local Baptist churches in the area. John could not make it to Wyoming that year and I really wanted to go. I took the summer off from seminary and had free time available, but I didn’t want to make the trip alone. I offered to pay Stephanie and Krystan’s way if they would tag along with me. I asked these two girls because of their track record of being mature and responsible along with having gifts of serving even though they were only about 14 and 16 at the time.
The gig was this: I would pay their way if they would pump gas for me! I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve pumped gas only three times since John and I have been married almost 35 years. Stephanie or Krystan pumped gas for us the whole trip. Their daddy has brought them up right! We had a wonderful experience even though I dragged Krystan along from store to store every afternoon shopping for something (not always stuff for me!), and we lived on three or four hours of sleep per night–not conducive to teenagers as a general rule! But we all survived those busy and crazy days.
Anyway it was a great trip and both girls helped me provide a celebration meal for 30-40 workers the night before we departed. I can still remember that day of preparations. There were several volunteers who wanted to help me including one very overbearing individual. This person kept cross-questioning me on what I was doing, the amounts of the ingredients I was putting in everything, why I was doing things certain ways, and offering suggestions on ways everything should be done better, etc., etc. I didn’t say anything or reply to the criticisms. I just kept working. Finally, when the person kept badgering us with critical remarks, Stephanie spoke up with a hint of teenage exasperation and mild sarcasm when she said to the person, “You know, she’s done this before a few times. I’m sure she can handle it,” or something to that effect. Young Stephanie silenced the critic, and, yes, everything turned out fabulous. And, Stephanie, Krystan and I bonded as cooks as we prepared that lavish meal! We all love cooking. I wish my mother had instructed me in the kitchen like Brenda has her two daughters. Taking care of and managing a home will be so easy for them when they finally marry and have children.
It is so wonderful to see parents do it right. These days when the norm is watching parents allow their young children to run wild in stores, scream in restaurants, and be sassy to any adult in their path it has always been refreshing to see how well-behaved and respectful Stephanie and Krystan turned out. Kudos to Cliff and Brenda for a job well done.
When the Asselin girls and I were on that trip driving from Texas to Wyoming, passing out water together, driving in the van to and from the camp we were staying at each day, cooking together, shopping together, and eating together our relationship was cemented like nothing else. That’s why I’m really excited to present Krystan’s first guest blogging post on “Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen,” and hope there are many more in the future. Krystan has a lot of talent not only in cooking but crafts and scrapbooking. I am encouraging her to show her stuff on this blog with the expectation that she may begin her own blog in the near future. She’s so talented. I wish I had an ounce of her creativity! I think you will enjoy her guest blogging posts.
Here’s the picture Krystan messaged me last week when we were on our Christmas vacation. I thought these looked so spectacular I begged her to send me a guest blogger post.
This is a picture of Krystan. She is enrolled in Liberty University’s online university program after she graduates in May. She and her sister Stephanie have been homeschooled their whole lives.
This delicious biscotti is wonderful for breakfast with hot cocoa, hot tea, or coffee. Yum, yum!
Hints & Tips From Krystan:
I had always loved eating Biscotti from the store, and so when I got this new cookbook for Christmas I could not wait to try to make my own from scratch!! I was very proud of how they turned out and got many compliments on how good they tasted. I did not get 48 Biscotti out of this recipe though. So if you need 48, you might have to either cut smaller pieces or double your batch.
This is the cookbook where Krystan found this great Chocolate Biscotti recipe.
I loved this recipe because it called for coffee, which I love! So I used Starbucks coffee, since it calls for strong brewed coffee. I used a couple extra teaspoons of vanilla too, for extra goodness! In my Biscotti I used sliced Almonds instead of Hazelnuts and Cranberries instead of Cherries (really just because I didn’t have the other ingredients).
I followed the directions in the book pretty closely… Beating the egg mixture until it was well blended. It took a little while to mix the flour mixture together really well to ensure the cocoa was mixed thoroughly. When I formed the two logs they weren’t as doughy as I expected them to be. And when I first placed them on the pan they looked like they wanted to flatten out… But once they were baked they looked perfect!
I would not suggest letting the biscotti cool completely before you slice the logs. The longer they cool the harder they get and it makes it more difficult to slice. Once they are baked the second time, and cooled completely, they are excellent little treats. Great with a cup of coffee or a cold cup of milk!
Here’s one more look at this delightful recipe. Yum, yum! Imagine sinking your teeth in this delicious biscuit-type cookie.
Here’s the recipe.
(Recipe adapted from Krystan Asselin, source: Good Housekeeping—Christmas Cookies! 65 Recipes for Classic and New Holiday Treats)
3 large egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp. strong brewed coffee (Krystan used Starbucks coffee)
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups flour (I always use UNBLEACHED flour because bleached flour toughens baked goods)
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts, toasted (Krystan used almonds)
1/3 cup dried tart cherries (Krystan used craisins)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheets or spray well with Bakers Joy cooking spray. In small bowl, beat together egg whites, oil, coffee, and vanilla. In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nuts and craisins (or cherries if you are using them) until mixed. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients and stir until well combined. This may take awhile. Shape dough into two 12” x 1” logs; place both on prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool logs on cookie sheet slightly before cutting. Don’t wait too long or they become difficult to cut. Cut diagonally into scant ½” thick slices. Arrange biscotti cut side up on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes until dry. Rotate cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking. After baking a second time, transfer biscotti to rack to cool. Can store in a cookie jar or air-tight container up to 3 weeks. Makes 2-2 ½ dozen biscotti (not the 48 the recipe originally suggested).
NOTE: I think this basic recipe would be fabulous with any kind of dried fruit: craisins, dried cherries, blueberries, apricots, pineapple, dates, mangoes, or figs and any kind of nuts.
Here’s one more look at this delicious biscotti. Enjoy!
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