Sunday, 18 February 2007

Biscotti Obsession, Chapter 2

Posted by Bonita

If the culinary world ever held a pageant of some sort for cookies, I know which one I would give my vote for. Ladies and gents, I may have found the sexiest cookie ever. I would like to introduce you to my chocolate espresso biscotti.

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As you can well imagine, as with almost every single weekend of mine, it was another bake-fest last night. With an Italian midterm looming over our heads, a couple of us decided to get together for a study group, and that only meant one thing for me: a group of willing guinea pigs at my disposable to try out some of my new experiments in the kitchen!

My obsession with biscotti continued this weekend. I like making biscotti when I bring them to my Italian classmates because: a) it’s in keeping with the Italian frame of mind and b) I can get feedback from my friends who are actually of Italian heritage. With the success of my cranberry and pistachio biscotti last week, I decided to branch out and try something new yet again. As I’ve mentioned before, I had previously attempted making a chocolate biscotti, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with that particular recipe. Inspired by my friend Vincent (who’s hosting the study group), who mentioned something about chocolate biscotti a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was time to have another go at it and try to find a recipe that would finally be a “keeper”.

After some searching, I turned to a recipe at epicurious as the basis of my chocolate biscotti. The original recipe wasn’t very appealing to me to begin with, so it’s funny how I picked this recipe anyway. While I like walnuts, I just didn’t think it would be a great pairing with chocolate; personally, I would substitute hazelnuts or almonds for the walnuts. But nuts aside, I thought that the basic chocolate biscotti would be good for me to play around with.

Thus inspired by Vincent with the idea of a chocolate biscotti and his cappuccino maker, I decided to create my own version of the chocolate espresso biscotti. I threw in 2 tablespoons of finely ground espresso beans (oh Illy, how I love thee!), and replaced the chocolate chips with Poulain’s Noir café, a 64% pure cocoa chocolate bar with coffee in it. The dough did come out dryer than I was used to for a biscotti dough, which did concern me a tad bit, but atleast it meant less of a mess on my hands as I shaped them. The smell of these biscotti while they were baking was absolutely divine, the coffee laced with the chocolate. However, there were two downsides to this recipe: 1) The bottom of my biscotti somehow burned a little after the 1st baking, especially on the ends. I eventually had to scrape off the bottom a bit when I got to the ends because it was just too black, and I wasn’t about to serve burnt biscotti. Still have to figure out why they burned, but I think I have a suspect. 2) These cookies did crumble a bit while cutting, especially when it got to the middle part. I definitely had to be a lot more gentler while cutting these biscotti, but in the end, they still turned out rather nicely with my steady hands and a decent serrated knife.

Nonetheless, all is forgiven (although not totally forgotten) after you’ve tried a bite of these cookies. The cookie is crisp but not to the point where it wants to break your teeth, and it has a very nice, rich chocolatey taste to them. The hint of espresso is absolutely wonderful, and definitely adds a level of depth and complexity to what would otherwise be a very ordinary chocolate biscotti. Mission accomplished! I have finally found a great chocolate biscotti recipe that’s a keeper!

My second batch of biscotti featured cinnamon and hazelnuts, based on a recipe which I found over at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody (lovely blog with even lovelier pictures!). The recipe looked very appealing in itself, since I thought that cinnamon and hazelnut would be such an interesting pairing (and who could resist the seduction of cinnamon?). Add to the fact that the pictures of her biscotti looked beautiful, I decided that I must give these biscotti a try as well.

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The recipe itself was lovely. The dough was the perfect consistency (not too wet, not too dry), and they cut so beautifully that it almost made me cry. The only change I did make was that I added more cinnamon (1 teaspoon versus the ¼ teaspoon that was recommended) to the batter because I wanted to give the biscotti a more kick. I thought that ¼ tsp would be too little, especially for the amount of flour used, and in my mind.

I was unsure last night whether I liked these biscotti or not. After a night’s rest, however, I have come to the conclusion that these biscotti are lovely. The clincher? Opening the container that I had stored them in last night, I was meant with a sudden whiff of cinnamon. I can only imagine what these little lovely cookies will taste like alongside a cappuccino or a chai latté.

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti
Makes about 30

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground espresso (or 3 tbsp instant espresso
    granules)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
  3. On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes. On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.
The last thing I made were banana white chocolate muffins, which I will post about tomorrow! A domani!

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