Cappucino Biscotti with (Hazelnuts and) Chocolate

8:57 pm

The other weekend I was in need of a multi-purpose, storage friendly baked good.  I needed a “thank you for all your perennial plants” gift for my friend’s mother, an “I’ll miss you when I’m gone for a week-long business trip” leave behind for Rick and something that might please my family for my dad’s upcoming birthday celebration.

I really didn’t want to make biscotti.  The last and only time I had tried a few years ago, it ended up as chocolate cinnamon bricks.  Nothing accompanies “Happy Birthday” so well as “when you eat this, be careful you don’t break your teeth.”  However, nothing else seemed to fit the bill quite as well that wouldn’t require being done in a number of different batches.  Given my penchant for late-night starts, multiple batches (that need to be supervised while cooling to prevent cat attacks) are a stamina tester.

So, here I find myself bending the rules again…but only a bit, as I haven’t ever made cappuccino biscotti.  :-)

I thought I’d take one of my birthday presents – The Art and Soul of Baking from Cindy Mushet and Sur la table – for a spin.  The original recipe calls for hazelnuts but I, frankly, have a thing against hazelnuts.  I feel as though they often get the invites to fancy desserts while the poor pecan and walnut are left out in the cold.  I’d like to say it was for a more mature reason, but….(insert appropriate rationalization here).

Though this recipe could also be made with a hand-mixer, I must say that I felt a bit of relief when I broke out the lately neglected KitchenAid Mixer.  I’m not one to usually be paranoid of inanimate objects’ feelings, but I swear that it’s been giving me accusing looks when I walk past it in the kitchen.

Speaking of kitchens, (how’s that for a segue on a baking blog, eh?), I remember one day when I was a wee lass, I entered the kitchen to find my father eating a stick of butter covered in sugar.  Had I taken a moment to draw on my baking experience, I would have realized he was simply trying to create his own version of a base for most sweet recipes – butter mixed with sugar.  Now don’t try to deny it – you know that it’s disturbingly delicious and that there’s something about that yellowish, fluffy mixture.  My father is an AMAZING cook but has never once made a baked good.  Rather than yelping in horror, I should have taken that for what it was – a cry for help from the little baker trapped inside of him.

This was an incredibly easy recipe to put together overall, though not always the most appetizing…as you’ll note from the photo below, there are some stages at which it’s best to keep those who will be eating the finished product out of the kitchen.

The one area in which I failed this time around is that I baked the biscotti just a bit too long for its second bake.  Sigh…it’s true – I have a chronic fear of under baking.  Despite the fact that my vice reared its doughy head (or would its head be crispy?  I’m not sure…), I received positive feedback from all fronts.  My dad appreciated the balance of firmness and brittleness and step-mom said that, “If Dad likes it then you know it’s good.”  My sister enjoyed it with coffee and my brother-in-law even said that he doesn’t usually like biscotti but that he liked this.  My friend’s mom said it was wonderful.  Rick was appreciative of the toasty token…even though I left the more “well done” ones for him.  I will say that there was unanimous agreement that the superfine sugar kind of overwhelmed the flavor of the biscotti.  Perhaps just a slight dusting rather than a full-on all-around coating would have been a nice touch.  My father, always a frosting lover, thought that a drizzle of frosting instead of the sugar would be a treat as well.

And, it turns out, they were fairly affordable to make:

total ingredients

household/store  brand price

high end/organic price

1 1/2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder

$0.09

household brand

2 tsp. warm water

$0.00

$0.00

1 stick unsalted butter

$1.17

$1.55

2/3 c. sugar

$0.24

household brand

3 large eggs

$0.33

$0.87

2 3/4 c. flour

$0.55

$0.83

1/2 tsp. baking powder

$0.01

household brand

1/4 tsp. salt

$0.02

household brand

1 c. hazelnuts

$2.68

store bulk

5 oz. semi/bittersweet chocolate

$0.44

$1.16

1/2 c. superfine sugar

$0.21

household brand

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

 $.13  $.08

TOTAL COST

$5.87

$7.73

 

Cappuccino Biscotti with Hazelnuts and Chocolate
from Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table, The Art & Soul of Baking (Andrews McMeel)

Serves: Makes about 45 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1½tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons warm water
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 68°F)
  • ⅔ cup (4¾ ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2¾ cups (13¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (4½ ounces) chopped skinned toasted hazelnuts
  • 5 ounces good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into ¼-inch chunks, or 1 cup (6½ ounces) mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (3½ ounces) superfine sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Procedures:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center.

Mix the dough: In the small bowl, stir together the espresso powder and warm water until the powder is dissolved. Set aside.

Place the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Add the espresso mixture and blend well. Scrape down the bowl with the spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (15 to 20 seconds) and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

In the medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture all at once. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and blend slowly, just until there are no more patches of flour. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips and mix on low just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir gently a few times with the spatula to make sure the nuts and chips are evenly distributed and there are no patches of unincorporated flour or butter lurking near the bottom of the bowl.

Shape and bake the dough: Divide the dough in half. On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, gently squeeze and roll each piece to shape into logs about 13 inches long. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the logs on the sheet about 4 inches apart. Press down on the logs, flattening them slightly until they are each about 2 inches across the top. Place the second baking sheet under the first (to prevent the bottoms of the logs from browning too quickly). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the logs cool completely. (If you attempt to slice them while warm, the chocolate will smear and the cookies will look messy.)

Cut the logs and bake them a second time: Turn the oven down to 275°F and position two racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Carefully transfer the cookie logs to a cutting surface. Use the serrated knife to slice the logs on a slight diagonal into cookies ⅛ inch thick. Line the second baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookies, cut side down, on the parchment-lined sheets (you’ll need both sheets to hold all the cookies). Toast the cookies in the oven, switching the sheets between the racks and rotating each front to back halfway through, for 30 to 40 minutes, until dry and lightly tinged with color. Transfer to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are toasting, prepare the finishing sugar if you like. Whisk together the superfine sugar and cinnamon in the cleaned medium bowl. As soon as the cookies are out of the oven and on the rack, immediately roll them in the cinnamon sugar and return to the baking sheet to cool completely.

Storing: The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months. If the cookies soften during storage, re-crisp them in a 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, let cool, and return to storage container.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison F. October 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Glad you were able to use the gift! As the giver, I claim one biscotti, they sound delicious.

Reply

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