Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Biscotti

Before we moved, I worked at a bakery back in Milwaukee.  Over the summer, there was a period of time that I was in charge of opening in the mornings.  I would stumble into the darkness and make my way to the lights.  The entire bakery illuminated in the glow of overhead lighting and my morning had begun.  The opening was down to a fine science, if I did everything in a certain order, the bakery was ready to open right on time for that first customer (and there was always one waiting on the stoop for me to unlock the doors).  Usually the coffee finished brewing and the ovens went off just in time for me to bring out a steaming basket of bread and a plate of fresh cinnamon rolls for the first rush of customers.

However, every once in awhile, I finished early.  These were the best days as I would be able to enjoy the early morning silence, the sort of magical time of day when the sun is just starting to peek out and the rest of the world is starting to come alive.  In this time, I would sometimes sit with the newspaper - I loved Wednesdays for the food feature - for about five minutes. 

And if I was really lucky, I would be opening on the day after biscotti baking.  The end pieces were always set aside and were fair game to us.  I would dunk the end of the biscotti into a steamy hot mug of foamy vanilla latte until it was dangerously close to crumbling into the bottom, before letting it melt in my mouth.  Pure bliss!

My love for biscotti grew on those early summer mornings, but I never actually made my own, until now.  I decided I wanted a decadent breakfast treat for Easter weekend and biscotti fit the bill.  Not only are these a tasty treat, they also stay fresh for a week or more, perfect for a holiday weekend when I don't want to spend the entire time in the kitchen. 
Cherry Walnut Chocolate Biscotti       
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan (get this book today!)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant espresso powder (You can leave this out but I think it adds a depth of flavor.)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts (I used 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup dried cherries.)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Jasmine wanted to be on the blog so she did her cute flop and roll in the background.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed about 2 minutes, mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don't worry if the mixture looks curdled.  Reduce 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.

 
This is the part where I try not to eat the entire bowl of dough - I have no fear of raw eggs.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.  Divide in half and shape each portion into a 12 inch log. Flatten each log with your hand so they are about 1 inch tall and 2 inches wide.  Place each log on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until slightly firm.
 
These look like giant Tootsie Rolls,  mmmm Tootsie Rolls.
Be sure to leave plenty of space between the logs since they will expand quite a bit.

 This is what they look like after the first round of baking.

Remove the sheet from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)  Using a serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Leave the slices standing up and arrange on the baking sheet. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.

 
 
 
These make a great gift and travel well if you are heading to Grandma's house for Easter - Enjoy!

12 comments:

  1. Love biscotti, love dorie, love Milwaukee (I was actually born there and lived there til 7th grade...still have family there :))

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  2. These look great! I love biscotti especially with walnuts :)

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  3. On my list of things to bake for the week-end!! Made a ginger/almond biscotti for Christmas. Sooo easy and sooo good. But, makes a fat free cup of coffee not so fat free, as I can't eat just one:( Happy Easter!

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  4. @Natalie, small world! Yep we lived there for about 4 years. I have to say I'm enjoying the foodie scene and weather here in St. Louis so far (minus the tornado warning last night!)
    @Anne, thank you!
    @Jane, thanks for stopping by - let me know if you try them, happy Easter!
    @Tracy, thank you! I'm hoping to try some new variations in the future!:)

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  5. Deeeelicious looking! I've read over recipes before about how to make biscotti, but never seen a photo tutorial. I am going to try making some soon, although I think I have to go with a vanilla/ orange/ almond combo I think. Or maybe hazelnut. Yum!

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  6. aw sounds like you had a memorable time working at that bakery. the biscotti looks delicious!!

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  7. These look amazing. I'm a fool for biscotti!

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  8. oohh blissful mornings!
    i love biscotti so much.
    i've never made chocolate biscotti, though!!

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