November 30, 2010

The Biscotti Everyone Wants for Christmas!!

These biscotti are so incredible! I normally don't get too excited about biscotti, I find that it is usually too hard and often doesn't have a lot of flavor. These are not only slightly soft, but they are packed with hazelnuts, bittersweet chocolate and crystallized ginger, so flavor is not an issue! You may be surprised to learn that they also contain chili powder, which is often seen paired with chocolate in both Italian and Mexican cuisine. Often, you will see the gelato flavor of chocolate with chili in Italy (it's wonderful!). These are one of my Mother's favorite cookies- she requests them frequently!

These would make a great gift- you could put them in a mason jar and tie the jar with a ribbon, that would be a great presentation! The holiday season is approaching and I'm sure all the Moms out there need ideas for teachers' and sitters' gifts!

Biscotti with Chocolate, Hazelnuts and Ginger
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped
2 ounces raw hazelnuts, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (I use ground cayenne chili powder)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, all-purpose)
2 Tablespoons light (or heavy) cream

For the Dipping:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, there's no need to grease either the baking sheet or the parchment paper. In an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, mix at a medium speed for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add the chopped hazelnuts, chocolate and ginger and mix together gently. Next, add the cardamom, baking powder, salt, chili powder and cocoa powder, combine thoroughly. Add the flour, this will change the mixture from very liquid to somewhat clumpy. Once well combined, although forming clumps of dough, pour in the cream while the mixer is moving at a low speed. This brings it all together to the right dough consistency!

Now, separate the dough into three pieces and with each piece, form a log that is rather blunt on each end. This is important because you want the biscotti once cut to be close to all the same length. For smaller biscotti, form four logs. Place the logs on the baking sheet with parchment paper several inches from each other and bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes. They won't be completely baked at this point, they will still be slightly soft and somewhat raw on the inside. That is alright and that is what you want to keep them soft! Let the logs cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes, or longer, before you cut the logs into the biscotti. I use a serrated bread knife for this, it seems to work fairly well. These will be a little difficult to cut, they may crumble a little. Just be patient and proceed carefully and it will be fine!

Place the biscotti you have cut back onto the baking sheet and bake at 350 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a spatula, transfer to a wire rack to cool. You may need to do this in batches, or, if you'd like to move the process along faster, prepare one or two additional baking sheets.

While your biscotti are baking for their second time, or cooling, prepare the dipping chocolate! This really makes this cookie! They are delicious without this step, but this step really takes them over the top! Use 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, (I use 60% cacao), and microwave for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted. Mix well, and if necessary, transfer to a bowl or plate where you'll be able to get chocolate completely on one side of the biscotti. (If you're using a Pyrex measuring cup, you can turn it on its side.) I do this because hey! it saves me from having to wash more dishes!

You may use the same baking sheet you've been using that has the parchment paper on it for this next step! Make sure, though, that it will fit in your refrigerator, because you'll need to place these in the refrigerator to solidify the chocolate. Dip each biscotti in chocolate so that one whole side is covered (see the picture, the side that is facing down was dipped in chocolate). Place on the baking sheet, chocolate side down. Once finished with this step, place in the refrigerator.

These are just wonderful and I'm sure you are going to love them! If you do not care for hazelnuts, why not try walnuts or almonds? If you don't care for ginger, you could try candied citrus peel, which I'm sure would also be delicious!

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