Step-by-Step: My Favorite Chocolate Biscotti
I’ve raved to many people many times about these chocolate biscotti; I make them fairly often so we can keep a constant supply around. They are for those of you deeply devoted to dark chocolate: the espresso powder in them combined with the cocoa and dark chocolate chunks makes them an intensely dark, not-overly-sweet treat to have with your coffee/tea/hot chocolate/milk.
The recipe itself is easy to make, but I’ve found a few tricks help get tasty, consistent results. To start, I always scoop my flour into the measuring cup with a spoon — this gives you a more accurate measurement than scooping the cup directly into the flour.
I then whisk together all the dry ingredients, rather than sifting — this breaks up any lumps and evenly distributes everything.
Then, in my Kitchen Aid mixer, I cream together the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes. The butter should be at room temperature — if it’s still cold, sometimes I microwave it on 50% power in 10 second bursts, just until it softens a bit (but not until it melts.) After the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, I add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for another 2 minutes. Next, I gradually add the dry ingredients into the bowl of the mixer, and mix on low speed until it turns into a dough. At first, the dough will look really dry:
Don’t worry — keep on mixing. In about a minute or so, the dough will come together and look more like this:
Nice, right? It’s soft and easy to work with, not really sticky. Now it’s time to add the chunks; chopped nuts, chopped dried cranberries or cherries, and — the best part — a bar of good quality chocolate, chopped into chunks. You can use chips if you like, but look at all the good hefty bits you’ll get when you chop it yourself:
Dump the chocolate chunks, chopped nuts, and chopped cranberries/cherries into the mixer with the dough. In this dough, I used chopped walnuts and chopped cranberries. Turn the mixer back on low and mix just until the chocolate, fruit and nuts are evenly distributed.
Now, you’ll shape the dough into logs to bake. To do this, I usually split the dough in half, then take one half at a time and turn it out onto a board. I like to gather the dough into a ball and use it to pick up any stray pieces that might fall off:
Use your hands to gently squeeze and shape each dough half into a log about 12 x 2 inches, and place the logs on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Now here’s a good trick: you’re going to bake the logs whole, then cut them into individual biscotti. I’ve found that if you score the logs about halfway down before putting them in to bake, it makes cutting them into biscotti a lot easier…much less cracking!
Pop those into the oven for the first bake. When they come out, you’ll let the logs cool on the sheet for about 20 minutes —
— then cut them into individual biscotti and spread them out. Then, it’s back into the oven for a short (10 minute) bake — but don’t forget to swipe the ends to munch on first; those are the cook’s treats! Every good baker needs a reward for all that hard work, right?
After the second short bake, out come the little pretties and all you need to do is let them cool. They’ll crisp up fully as they cool, but if you can’t wait to eat them, I think they taste just as good warm, with all that melted chocolate.
A few things to note before you make the recipe: I’ve reduced the amount of sugar from 1 cup in the original recipe to 2/3 cup. I like them not so sweet, but if that’s not your taste, by all means use the full cup. Use any kind of chocolate you like. And, if you’re like me and try to sneak whole wheat flour into things that can take it a bit, you can use half white whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand is good) to no ill effect.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s excellent book Baking: From My Home to Yours.
2 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute 1/2 white whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee or instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried fruit (cherries or cranberries are good) – optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
With a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla; beat for another 2 minutes. Decrease the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the chopped nuts, chocolate and dried fruit.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Knead each portion a few times to pull the dough together into a ball, then shape each portion into a 12 x 2 inch log. Place each log on the baking sheet. At this point, I score the log with a knife where I plan to cut it into biscotti — I find this helps to cut it later without it cracking. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the sheet from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Then, slice the logs diagonally into 3/4-inch thick slices and leave the slices standing up on the baking sheet. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes of baking.
Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.
Makes about 20 biscotti.