For reasons beyond my control, I’m kind of in a funk this Christmas season…it just doesn’t seem that magical to me this year. Oh yes…I’ve inundated myself with Christmas songs in an attempt to boost the spirits. I’ve watched all of my favorite Christmas specials. I’ve even braved the mall. Mistake. Maybe it’s because we haven’t gotten a tree yet…and maybe that’s because I’m putting it off for as long as possible because I’m mad at myself for giving in to buy a FAKE tree this year. I chastized my parents the first year they switched over and vowed never to do it. Whatever the reason, I just don’t feel all that Christmasy this year. And maybe it’s because of this funk that I’ve decided to do things a little differently on the baking side this year. I’m not doing all of my traditional cookies. I’m going to suck it up and make the treats that I’ve been too afraid to make during past Christmas seasons. So if you’re looking for peanut butter blossoms, check out all-recipes – you won’t find them here.
The first non-traditional Smells Like Home treat that I bring you this year is chocolate biscotti. Biscotti has frightened me. I’ve shied away from it when it has been served because it tends to tear open the roof of my mouth when I eat it so I’ve never really had an urge to make it. Go figure. However, Chelley over at Brown-Eyed Baker is practically the biscotti queen and after seeing her make 4 or 5 different types, I became intrigued. I figured that I should at least try making my own. And since Chelley recently posted about chocolate biscotti, I decided I would start with that one.
These biscotti were so easy I’m ashamed that I haven’t tried them sooner. They were just as easy as making cookies and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. They were fabulous! I dipped some in and drizzled some with white choclate (which I splurged on this year when I found Callebaut chocolate at a recent trip to Whole Foods). The Callebaut white chocolate is seriously some of the best white chocolate I’ve ever had – it rivals the white chocolate I so fondly remember bringing home from my trips to France – and if you’ve got it in your budget for special Christmas treats this year, I highly recommend you seeking it out – you won’t be sorry. The white chocolate on the outside of the biscotti was the perfect complement to the white Ghiradelli chips in subbed in for the nuts…these biscotti really couldn’t get much better. Dip them in hot coffee, hot chocolate or an ice cold glass of milk. Perfection.
adapted from: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched (I subbed 1 cup chopped white chocolate)
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
- Sugar, for dusting
- 8 oz white chocolate, chopped or chips
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer 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. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
- Sprinkle some flour on a clean work surface. Dust your hands with some flour – the dough will be very sticky. Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12-inch-long logs. Transfer logs onto the baking sheet. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand, so that they are ½ to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.
- Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack – and that’s just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)
- Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between ½ and ¾ inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet – you’ll have an army of biscotti – and baking the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.
- Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.
- Melt white chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Dip the cooled biscotti into the white chocolate and set to cool on a silicone mat or some parchment paper.