Baking Biscotti

One of my most beloved family traditions is baking for Christmas with my Mom.  We spend a full day whipping up fudge, debating if the weather is right to attempt divinity, rolling cookies, and slicing breads to round out plates destined for our friend’s homes.  We plan for weeks in advance and coordinate the timing of what should be done first, second, third.  It wouldn’t be unusual for us to make up to ten varieties of baked goods.  Phew.

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What is unusual is this is the first year we aren’t hosting our baking day. With holiday travel, busy schedules, and the goal of maintaining our sanity taking precedent, we decided that it was time for us to take a year off. Yes friends, it’s true, no holiday cookie plates from me this year. Blasphemy!

I’m jonesing for some baking, though.  It’s my happy place. Nothing makes me happier than creating someone’s favorite treat and seeing their eyes light up when they take a bite.

I was feeling like a bit of a sell-out today as I purchased Starbucks gift cards for K’s teachers. I know they will like receiving them, but it just feels so generic and I wanted something else to help me say “thank you for caring for the most important person in my world”. So I decided to take a few hours this evening to make them something to go with the coffee…biscotti! This satisfied 1) my desire to bake, and 2) to personalize my otherwise impersonal holiday gift. Some decorative bags, ribbon, and a heartfelt card will complete the gift. If I had the means, I swear I’d buy them each a car, but for now, biscotti it is!

Prior to 6pm tonight, I’d never made biscotti.  But I figured, no time like the present!  I searched for a chocolate biscotti recipe and “Double Chocolate Biscotti” from Once Upon a Chef quickly rose to the top of list.  It came with a five-star recommendation, I had all of the ingredients on hand, and did I mention it included chocolate?!

This recipe did not disappoint. It was simple and produced a delicious, crunchy, chocolatey cookie just begging to be dipped in a rich cup of coffee. Of course, I will need to re-confirm this again tomorrow morning – quality control, people!

Here is the recipe from Jennifer Segal on Once Upon a Chef:

Servings: About 30 biscotti
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off 
  • 1/4 cup + plus 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 tablespoons Confectioners sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir on low speed until just combined.
  4. Dust a work surface with flour. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sticky dough out onto the work surface and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough ball (if it’s still too sticky, dust with a bit more flour) and cut in half. Form the dough pieces into two short logs by rolling back and forth. Place the logs onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into longer logs about 3/4-inch high and 2 inches wide. Allow enough space for the logs to spread a few inches while they bake. Bake for about 35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Let the biscotti logs cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to touch (if you wait any longer, the biscotti will be difficult to cut); then, using a sharp knife, slice the logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices (I do this right on the baking sheet). They will crumble just a bit; don’t worry about it. Turn the biscotti on their sides (so that the cut sides are down) and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to dry and crisp up. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When cool, push all the biscotti together (this prevents the Confectioners sugar from getting on the sides of the cookies) and use a fine sieve to dust with Confectioners sugar. Serve with coffee, tea or warm milk.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season!  Bon appetit!

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