Monday, December 21, 2015

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Happy holidays!  I've been a bit MIA, as life has kept me pretty busy over the last few months, but now that it's the holiday season I am getting back in the kitchen.  This month's challenge for What's Baking was to make biscotti.  Biscotti is one of those things that I usually enjoy when I have it, but I don't usually seek it out.  However, I was intrigued and excited to take on this challenge.

I turned to my trusted copy of The Craft of Baking and found the perfect recipe - chocolate walnut biscotti.  Sounds good to me!  In general, making biscotti is pretty easy - make the dough, roll it into two logs, cook it, cut it, cook it again and done.  Then I noticed a "tip" at the bottom of the page saying that the dough is very sticky, so you should use ample flour while rolling it out.  Yeah, that turned out to be an understatement.  I thought I used plenty of flour while rolling out the first half of the dough....see the picture below to see how well that turned out!  My second half went over much better.  In the end, you cut the logs into the individual biscotti so no one would guess how awkward the shape was to begin with, but I am still laughing at myself for how it looked!

This was a fun challenge.  And biscotti keeps for weeks in an airtight container so this is something that I could bring as a hostess gift or can serve to guests even if I don't want to prep one more thing in the day or two leading up to the event.  I always a love a good make-ahead recipe!

Be sure to check out Coleen's blog The Redhead Baker to see this month's round-up.

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti (slightly adapted from The Craft of Baking)

1 cup walnut pieces, roughly chopped
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp coffee extract (recipe below)
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a second baking sheet.  Toast them in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool the sheet on a wire rack.  Keep the oven on.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, baking soda, and salt.  Beat on low speed until well combined and no butter pieces are visible, about 4 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, coffee extract, and vanilla.  Add the mixture to the flour mixture and beat on low speed to combine.  Add the cooled nuts and the chocolate chips and beat just to combine.
- Turn out the dough onto a generously floured work surface (***if you think you've put down enough flour, add another generous sprinkle!) and divide in half.  Shape each portion into a 16 x 2inch log, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart.
- Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the logs are firm to the touch (about 20-30 minutes).  Transfer the logs, still on the parchment paper, to a wire rack and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temp to 250 degrees F.
- Transfer the warm logs to a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut the logs on the diagonal into 1/3-inch-thick slices.  Arrange the slices, cut side up, on the baking sheet.  Bake until the biscotti are dry and firm to the touch, about 1 hour.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the sheet of biscotti cool completely on the rack.
- Biscotti can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Coffee Extract

1/4 cup hot water
2oz jar of instant espresso powder

- Slowly stir the hot water directly into the jar of espresso powder.
- Cover the jar with the lid (closing the lid tightly) and shake well to combine.
- Use immediately or keep in a dark cupboard at room temperature for up to 6 months.