It rains every day. Tropical storms and whatnot. When the greys shroud our little patch of Florida, I go in search of a pick-me-up. The mid-morning or early afternoon boost is one of two things lately.
The first is a chocolate confection covered with fur — our transient neighbor cat, nicknamed Turtle at the suggestion of my sister. She hops atop our fence to perch or trots over to charm us on the patio.
Though a lovebug, she’s more content writhing in the dirt, chasing birds and squirrels, or climbing the tree than keeping me company.
Unless bacon is involved. [And it usually isn't.]
More reliable is the second pick-me-up, conveniently sitting on the kitchen counter.
Biscotti are automatically awesome in my book as a result of the form follows function principle Elongated shapes allow dunking in narrow glasses of milk. [Or wide mugs of coffee.]
But there’s not a chocolate chunk in sight, no fancy chocolate drizzle, and come on, not even a silky robe of ganache on one end, you say?!
These have a hidden thrill. There’s espresso. in. the. dough. And if you’re so inclined, espresso would amplify the flavor of dark chocolate chunks.
Have I convinced you to bake these oft-forgotten-about cookies? Or a variation? I hope so, because it’s grey and Turtle is nowhere in sight . . .
Cappuccino Biscotti [makes about 2 dozen, depending on thickness]
Next time maybe I’ll swap in freshly grated nutmeg for the cloves.
2 c all purpose flour
2/3 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/4 c espresso or strong coffee, cooled [can be decaf, though really the effects of caffeinated espresso are negligible]
1 T milk
1 large egg
1 t pure vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 c whole almonds, optional [1/4 c for one log, 1/2 c for both]
Preheat oven to 350° F and place rack in center of oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat mat.
In a small bowl whisk together the espresso or coffee, milk, egg and vanilla. Set aside momentarily.
In the bowl of an electric mixer [or with a hand mixer] mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices until combined. Gradually add the espresso mixture and beat until a dough forms. Cover the bowl and refrigerate to firm up the dough, about 30 minutes.
With floured hands divide the chilled dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll each half of dough into a log about 10″ long by 2″ wide. Dot the top of one or both logs with the almonds, smushing down gently, if desired. Transfer logs to the lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart [logs will spread while baking]; bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown and almost firm. Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F. Remove the logs to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 3/4″ slices. Arrange the biscotti on their sides on the baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until very firm and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 weeks.
*Note: If you don’t like super crunchy cookies, reduce the second cooking time by 4 or 5 minutes. You could even try Michael Chiarello’s unscotti
Adapted from Joy of Baking