High Country Baking: How to make crunchy, dark chocolate biscotti
High elevation make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Crispy, crunchy and ready for dunking, this dark chocolate biscotti is the perfect companion for a steaming cup of coffee or a cool glass of milk. With a deep chocolate flavor and the dry texture that characterizes these Italian-style cookies, they have wide appeal.
Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder is what makes these cookies a stand-out. You can use other kinds of unsweetened cocoa, but the results won’t taste as rich or be as dark in color.
Measure the flour by gently spooning it into the measuring cup, so it doesn’t compact. Too much flour will result in cookies that are hard and tough. The logs of dough are baked once, cooled, cut, and then the slices are baked again. Be sure you wait until the once-baked logs are cool before cutting them; if you rush the process and try to cut them while they’re still warm, the slices may crumble and break apart. Some believe the cookies are at their best a day or two after they come out of the oven. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Dark Chocolate Biscotti
Yields 22 three-inch cookies
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Hershey’s Special Dark
1 ½ cups plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature if using a mixer
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
½ cup mini dark chocolate chips
1 beaten egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease it lightly and set it aside.
2. To make in a food processor: Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the bowl and pulse until well combined. Cut the butter into pieces, add them, and process until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened and form clumps. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse/process until a stiff dough forms. Dump it out onto a sheet of waxed paper.
To make with a mixer: Cut the room temperature butter into pieces, place them in a mixing bowl, and beat at medium-high speed until creamy, about 30-60 seconds. Add the sugar, salt and baking powder and beat until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and beat until blended. Beat in the cocoa powder. Gradually add the flour, beating at low-medium speed. If the dough gets too stiff for the mixer, stop using it, and stir in any remaining flour by hand. Dump the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper.
3. For both methods: Gently knead in the chocolate chips until they’re evenly distributed. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log, about 9 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 inch high. Place the logs on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing them at least 4 inches apart. Make the glaze by whisking the egg yolk with the water until combined; brush it over each log.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the logs are firm but not hard. Expect them to develop small cracks; it’s the nature of this cookie. Remove the logs from the oven and cool them. Put the prepared cookie sheet aside to use again. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
5. Once the logs are cool to the touch, gently hold the outside edges of each log (to give it stability) and, using a sawing motion with a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1-inch wide cookies right in front of where you’re holding it. If the logs aren’t cool enough the cookies may break, so take care. Stand the cut cookies up on the cookie sheet with space between them. Return the pan to the 325-degree oven and bake until the cut sides of the biscotti are dry, 10-15 minutes. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Store the cookies, covered airtight, at cool room temperature, for up to six days or freeze them for up to five weeks.
Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-elevation cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco, and Breck Books in Breckenridge). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our elevation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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