June 4, 2010

The cookie jars are calling

Chocolaty and crunchy, mini biscotti are in order for the week. Full of chocolate chips and toasted walnuts, they are deeply flavored with cocoa, intensified by a dose of dark espresso. Using strong coffee, in one of its various forms, is the best way to enhance the deep flavor of dark chocolate because the brew doesn't distract from the taste. Rather, it adds another dimension to chocolate's robust characteristics, especially when using cocoa powder. Both chocolate and coffee can have nutty, fruity, or earthy undertones, which make them ideal companions when it comes to baking. I'm not much of a fan of mochas, but in the case of these biscotti, just a touch of espresso works wonders.

Although on the small side, they do make for a nice snack in the afternoons. Before discovering this recipe and a couple of others in one of my baking books, I've always considered biscotti to be a larger, somewhat softer cookie, but have since realized that it comes in different sizes and can range from softly crunchy to hard, depending on your preference. The anise biscotti posted sometime last year remains my favorite type -- it's a mid-range size with a softer texture -- but it's good to have variety in my biscotti making repertoire. These little ones are pretty sturdy and thus very portable, which would make them a great addition to a picnic. They don't crumble at all like the soft ones do and can be eaten in a few, quick bites.

Plus, since they are on the smallish side, they fit in cookie jars better. Sometimes the long biscotti are too, well, long. Full cookies jars just look more pleasant sitting on the kitchen counter than empty ones. I'm always tempted to bake something to fill those empty jars up. They look so lonely.

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
Adapted from The Craft of Baking

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp freshly brewed espresso
¾ tsp vanilla
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, baking soda, and salt. Beat in butter with a spoon until the ingredients are well combined and no butter pieces are visible. Using a fork helps with this process, too.

In a medium bowl, whish together the eggs, egg yolk, espresso, and vanilla. Add the mixture to the flour mixture and beat to combine. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

Turn out the dough onto a generously floured cutting board and divided it in half. Shape each portion into a 16x2-inch log, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart (as the dough is incredibly sticky, I found it easier to dump each portion on the parchment paper and form them into logs there, eliminating the need to move them once the logs are formed).

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the logs are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer the logs on the parchment paper to a wire rack and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 250°.

Transfer the warm logs to a cutting board, and, using a serrated knife, cut them on the diagonal into -inch thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Bake until they are dry and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the sheet of biscotti cool completely on the rack.

Makes about 3 dozen.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the combination of cocoa and nuts in the flavor and texture of this biscotti - this was one that a person definitely sinks their teeth into! --Michael