Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Chocolate Biscotti

I have always assumed making biscottis to be time consuming. Aside from making the dough batter, it has to be shaped into a loaf, baked, then cut into pieces, then bake again. I know I must save you from my yakking the baking process, but that's exactly what made me feel wary at first. My idea of a cookie is quite simple: mix the batter, drop, and bake. But in order to achieve the biscotti's characteristic teeth-shattering crunch, it has to be baked until all its moisture content has evaporated, leaving a hard cookie ideal for dipping.
So this morning, I decided to make biscottis to accompany my afternoon hot chocolate drink. I settled for a simple biscotti recipe, no butter and no accesories (read: no chocolate chips, nuts, fruits etc). It's a pretty low fat cookie, and I like that fact about biscottis. They're enjoyable to eat, yet it's not to make anybody feel guilty at all.Halving the recipe is perfect if you plan to eat it by yourself, enough to accompany your tea time for about week. After baking them (in their already cut version), I left them in the oven to cool, leaving the oven door ajar. It made them extra crispy and letting all the moisture dry out(adapted from the principle of leaving lean baked breads in the oven to produce a crisp crust). The spices I included weren't very pronounced, but it gave a mysterious warm taste. Orange oil enhanced the chocolate flavor, not too citrus-y, but gave the biscotti their distinct taste. They're very hard and crunchy on the first day, I wouldn't recommend eating them on their own, especially for people who have sensitive teeth, but they're perfect for dunking. On succeeding days, the flavors would develop more and they'll be a tad more brittle in bite. These biscottis last long, keep them tightly sealed in containers and leave at room temp.

Simple Chocolate Biscotti

200g sifted all purpose flour
40g sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
200g brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4t vanilla extract
1/2 t orange oil ( or 1T orange zest)

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease with shortening. Preheat oven to 350deg F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices together. Set aside.
3. Beat sugar and eggs to a thick and fluffy consistency. Stir in vanilla extract and orange oil.
4. Sprinkle dry ingredients and gently fold until just combined.
5. Halve the dough and place onto the baking sheet. With floured hands, shape into a fat rectangular loaf. Pat smooth.
6. Bake for about 35 minutes, until hard and just beginning to crack on the sides.
7. Lower oven temp to 325deg F. Cut loaves into fingers, place on baking sheet, cut side up. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until crisp and dry, turning the other side up halfway during baking.
8. Let cool on wire racks. Or let cool inside the oven, fire turned off, leaving the oven door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon.

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