Sometimes I am inspired to bake: I walk into the kitchen and without any real thought, I have something coming out of the oven, be it cupcakes, brownies or bread. Other times though, I need to bake but have no direction. I don’t mean that I need a sweet treat to eat. I mean, I need to bake something… work with flour, butter, sugar to create something. Do you have days like that?
On days when I feel that need but have no inspiration, I turn to experts like Dorie Greenspan. Baking: From My Home to Yours is such a thick and wonderful book filled, but there are so many recipes, it’s often difficult to find where to begin. I decided chocolate is always a good place to start. But I looked at brownies and thought “meh” (meh to brownies?! — I know, right?). I just wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to try something different. So I looked through the cookies and saw biscotti. But I don’t like biscotti. Of course, I have only had the rock hard biscotti you get at coffee shops which always leave me disappointed… unfulfilled even.
But instead of passing on the biscotti, I trusted Dorie and set aside my biscotti bias. I am so glad that I did. The results were like a brownie-cookie lovechild. I did have some difficulty with one of my biscotti logs falling apart. Well, it didn’t fall apart exactly so much as crumble profusely anytime I touched it. I think I took them out a little too early. I will bake them for the full 25 minutes next time (I can’t believe I’m actually a biscotti fan now).
A little bit chewy, not too sweet. D. loved them (he even liked them without coffee which is saying a lot).
(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
sugar, for dusting
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift together all dry ingredients.
3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla and beat another 2 minutes.
4. Reduce the mixer to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Mix in the chocolate and nuts.
5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that tried to escape.
6. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch long log. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular.
7. Carefully put both logs onto a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment but seemed to be okay without). Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.
8. Bake the logs for about 25 minutes (Don’t take them out too early or you’ll get a crumbly mess like me). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.
9. Using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Put the slices back on the baking sheet and bake again… about 10 minutes this time.
10. Cool biscotti on a rack. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy…