Chocolate Walnut Cranberry Expresso Biscotti
This recipe is one I originally downloaded from a bed & breakfast place (Agate Cove Inn). As much as I don’t like cooking, I really do enjoy reading recipes. I found this one when doing a search for something travel-related (I way prefer traveling and eating out to cooking – that would explain this discovery more appropriately, I suppose). My printed recipe tells me this discovery was made on October 17, 1999. Alrighty then.
This is one of the easiest recipes I have. No – that’s not true. All the recipes that I have that I will share would have that description. I’m all about Flop-Proof Cooking. There are so many ways a person can flop. It’s not a confidence booster. So this recipe, while it turns out slightly differently (you’ll see why) it’s always a big hit. And people are totally impressed that a) I know what biscotti is and b) I actually make it from scratch.
Here’s the original recipe:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon strong coffee (cooled)
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1-1/3 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and blend well. In a small bowl, whisk together all liquids, add to dry ingredients with mixer. You may want to add a few drops of coffee to get mixture gooey. Add chocolate chips, walnuts and cranberries. Turn dough out onto a well-floured board and form into 1/2 x 3-1/2 inch flat logs. Cook on greased/floured cookie sheet at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Cook until cake-like. Cool. Cut logs into 1/2-inch pieces, lay (cut-side down) flat on cookie sheet and bake another 6 to 8 minutes at 300 degrees one side only. (For a harder Biscotti, cook both sides of cut pieces for 6 to 8 minutes each side.) Cool and serve.
Variations: Pistachios, almonds, or dried cherries.
Yields: approximately 32 Biscotti. Recipe easily doubles if needed.
Okay. That’s how it started. By the way, this recipe has never been done without doubling in my kitchen. It’s ALWAYS double.
I’ll share pictures of my process and tell you about variations. You see, whenever I see things like "1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon" of anything, there’s WAY TOO MUCH DETAIL in that. Give me a break. I call that "a quarter cupish" I think that’s descriptive enough.
The dry ingredients are a no-brainer really. I did pretty well following those directions (maybe because they’re at the beginning of the recipe.
Then come the wet ingredients. Oh – wait. Before I start, I always put the craisins (dried cranberries) into a container, fill it with water, and microwave it for 3 minutes(ish). And then let them sit. Because craisins are already dry. So if you put a dry ingredient in the oven, it becomes rock-like. If you re-hydrate the craisins, when you put them in the biscotti to bake, they end up moist and manageable in the final product.
If this looks like more than what the recipe calls for. . . ummm. . . it might be. This particular measuring cup doesn’t give the sum of 3/4 and 3/4. So I just went over the line(ish) with a few extra for good measure. Then filled it with water. BTW – if this overflows in the microwave, . . . consider yourself warned.
Okay – then the wet ingredients. Eggs. A lot of biscotti recipes call for lots of eggs. I’m not sure why. This recipe is great – and healthy . Only 1 egg (well – two if you double the recipe). And these are nice fresh farm eggs. Brown ones. With very healthy yellow yolks. This picture is here specially for Louise’s Prince Charming. Nevermind – when you come to visit, I know a place that sells insipid weak-looking unhealthy whitish/creamish colored yolks.
Did you know that when you get eggs from chickens, it’s a good practice to give them back their eggshells? Otherwise they peck at their laid eggs to get whatever nutrient they need from these shells. All this is part of my farm-life education. And I’m sharing it with you. This is really apparently true. I had no idea.
Now it calls for "strong coffee." I understand that. But if strong coffee is good, then wouldn’t this be better?
I mean – in reality, I’ve used strong coffee before. I’ve even used Sanka when I made this recipe for a cooking class. As for the 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon? Well – let’s just put it this way:
Today it looks like I used about half a cup. And the reason the picture is blurry is because . . . it’s hard to take a picture of something while holding something else. And the reason the bottle is empty is because I’ve obviously made this recipe a lot of times before this. And I don’t think any other inferences are necessary. Actually, I use anywhere between half a cup and 3/4 cup.ish.
I forgot to take a picture of the bowl with the wet ingredients. It doesn’t look like much to go with all the dry ingredients. But that’s okay. Just go with it. I’m telling you – this is a flop-proof recipe. Sometimes it’s a little wet. Sometimes it’s a little dry. It turns out. Really! So if your mixture looks something like this, it’s okay.
Because then you’re going to add the craisins. Pour off most of the water from the craisins, but save it – just in case. The moisture from the craisins does the magic.
Today’s biscotti turned out drier than last time’s biscotti. There are two reasons this might have happened. 1) My empty bottle of coffee flavoring and 2) I let the time on the craisins in the microwave go longer than normal, and a lot of the moisture that I might have saved ended up splatted and pooled all over my disgusting microwave (btw – this is one reason I don’t love cooking. . . clean-up issues)
After you add these things:
You can mix the whole mess together. Oh yes. You don’t want to put the chocolate chips in immediately following the craisins. Especially if you forgot to rehydrate them from the beginning. This is a little
physics chemistry nature kitchen scientific chocolate phenomenon. When chocolate chips come in contract and are stirred with something warmish in nature, they end up not holding their integrity. They become mushy. And smear all the way through your biscotti. Which is not a bad thing, per se. It’s just different from the final product picture that I’m going to show you. It has happened to me before – and then you have like chocolate ribbons throughout the biscotti, which is actually quite attractive. It all depends on how you want the chocolate. Oh – another variation: The time I used Sanka for coffee flavoring, I also used sweetened carob chips. To make it healthy.er. People really liked it. But I have issues with fake/non-chocolate, so I prefer to go with the full strength, unadulterated chocolate. Semi-sweet.
Okay, so you divide the biscotti mix onto two baking sheets. Then you flatten them out and sprinkle them with flour (to make it look "official") then you put them in the oven (pre-heated – did I mention that?).
I bake them for about 20 minutes. I actually check them when I start smelling them. If they look crispy around the edges already, I turn the oven off and leave them in there to cool with the door closed. Because it’s easier to cut slightly dried biscotti. And I don’t let it go all the way to normal biscotti consistency. We prefer to eat them like cookies. So if they look and smell like this they’re probably ready to turn off:
When they’re cool, and you don’t have anything else going on, you can cut them. I find a bread knife works well. They might be pretty crispy (depending on how cool they are – if you want an easier slicing job, just take them out a bit before they’re totally cooled) And you’ll end up with delicious, hearty, yummy and in high demand