Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chocolate Orange Biscotti


I’m a huge fan of any cooking or baking that doesn’t send me on a trip to the grocery store to buy special ingredients. Along the same lines, I hate to use butter as an everyday ingredient. I love butter, but it’s expensive to buy and usually requires forethought, either remembering to set it out an hour before use -- who else read that New York Times article that warned butter needs to be at 65 degrees Farenheit, not 68 to be considered appropriately “at room temperature?” -- or remembering to chill it, or remembering to buy it, as I always seem to have no more than three-quarters of a stick on hand at any given time.

Butter is expensive. I like Lurpak, and it’s almost $4 now for about half pound. And I hate to buy it if I’m not going to use it, as I’d rather my butter be fresh than freezer-burned. And I hate to experiment with a new recipe with it because it’s so expensive.

Who knew biscotti recipes don’t require butter? This has been a revelation for me.

I found a few biscotti recipes, kicked the ones that called for almond extract, since I didn’t have that in the house, and found one that I tinkered with a little bit.

Process-wise, I got a little nervous after mixing the so-called dough, which was more like thick brownie batter. Biscotti recipes tell you to shape the dough into a log, but this stuff was too we to really pick up with my hands. I used a small rubber spatula to mound and spread the dough-batter into a long form. It was sticking so much that I eventually ran the spatula under a trickle of water in the sink, and then continued spreading as best as I could.

After the biscotti had done their first round of baking, they had risen and now looked much more like a “log,” which was a huge relieve. My takeaway advice about this for anyone else who never made biscotti before is, “Trust the recipe.”

The rest was easy.

Here’s the recipe I came up with, followed by the tweaks I would make in the future.

Chocolate Orange Biscotti
2 large eggs
1 egg white
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest from one orange or tangerine
a handful (i.e., the dregs of what I didn’t eat of that bag) semisweet chocolate chunks, smashed


Whisk the eggs. Add the vanilla. Add half the sugar. Whisk some more. Add the rest of the sugar.

Separately, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add half the dry ingredients to the wet and fold. I tried whisking here, but the powder started flying all over the place. Once it’s incorporated, go back to the whisk or switch to a wood spoon. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients.

Preheat to 350.

Use either parchment paper or a Silpat mat on a cookie sheet. Make one giant “log” by scooping the dough-batter onto the pan and, using a spoon or rubber spatula dipped in water, smearing and smudging it into place. It may resemble more of a rectangle than a log, about 12 inches by 6 inches and 1 inch thick. (Alternatively, make 2 longs that are 12 by 3 inches.)

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until it looks a little puffier and set.

Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes. Lower heat to 275 or 300.

Transfer the baked “log” to a cutting board and using a bread knife or serrated knife, cut diagonally so each piece is the size you want it. I made about 20 cookies.

Return the cookies to the baking sheet and lay them cut side down. Return to the oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Dip in melted chocolate or serve with hot drinks.

Tweaks
The next time I make this recipe, I will ditch the orange zest, as it was really more of an experimentation and didn’t totally thrill me.

Increase the sugar to one full cup.

Stop being so cheap and buy almond extract. Add 1/2 teaspoon and halve the vanilla extract.

Eliminate the chocolate powder and increase the flour by half a cup and change the chocolate chips to nuts or dried fruit, as I really prefer the non-chocolate biscotti in the first place.

4 comments:

  1. Excuse me, ma'am, but that's a whole lot of complaining about butter! I know that article was a little frightening, but the take-home message was, I think, in the end it's all worth it for that sweet, creamy, rich, heavenly taste of butter. I guess it is hard when you have to get imported butter at $4 a half pound. And to be fair, I do have pretty easy access to Kerrygold (and I eat nothing but Irish butter if I can help it). I just hope you're not avoiding certain recipes because of it, that would be so sad. I get so sad thinking of all the cakes and cookies you're not baking and eating!

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  2. Grace, you are a true defender of butter, and I love you for that! I do love butter for taste and texture, but I am loathe to test out a new recipe if failure means WASTING a whole stick of butter.

    My oatmeal raisin and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies always have a good stick of European butter in them, but that is a surefire recipe.

    The Times article was hip to Kerry Gold as well. I might try that the next in lieu of Lurpak.

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  3. Nothing but the best, and the best is and always has been... Irish.

    YYYYYYYAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY BUTTER!

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