Biscotti - Can there be a better way to enjoy crisp, crunchy cookies the low fat way? Even better they keep fresh for days after they are made. A perfect make ahead snack to bake when you have the time, a treat for your self and your kids as well. Eat as is or dunk in milk or coffee or wine. Biscotti, the famous twice baked Italian cookie is also made with absolutely no added fat in the form of butter or oil. You can find recipes for luxurious biscotti as well, read baked with more butter, biscotti recipes with just a smidgen of fat. The ones with more fat make the biscotti tender textured, the ones without any fat are crunchier and noisier too! Having loved snacking on biscotti earlier, I have been looking for a recipe for chocolate biscotti. I am picky when it comes to chocolate. No cocoa biscotti as I LOVE chocolate (big secret revealed, huh?) I wanted biscotti with melted chocolate in it and not a whole lot of butter. I finally found one right under my nose. In Joanna Farrow's Simply Chocolate which I leaf through a hundred times when I want to read chocolate for dessert.
The recipe uses self raising flour plus baking powder and semolina (sooji). When I have previously tried substituting the SRF with flour and baking powder and also added baking powder (as given in the recipe) I have not had great results. So I have used only APF plus baking powder and no semolina, it worked fine for me. I have halved the original recipe to get about 10 biscotti. Since the recipe does not specify the consistency of the dough etc, I have gone by what I normally follow while baking biscotti.
Dark chocolate, chopped - 100 grams / 3.5 oz
Unsalted butter, softened - 12 grams (less than a tablespoon)
All purpose flour - 125 grams
Baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Sugar ( I used fine grained) - 50 grams/ 1/4 cup / 1.75 0z ( the recipe uses light muscovado)
Grated orange zest - 1/2 teaspoon
Egg, half ( A whole egg whisked and then weighed) - 24 grams
Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Walnuts/ Almonds/ hazelnuts, roughly chopped - 50 grams / 1.75 oz
Procedure : Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C / 325 F/ gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet or tin with parchment. I used a 10 x 6 tin. Sift together the flour and baking powder into a medium sized bowl. Mix in the sugar. Whisk the egg with the orange zest (just to make sure you don't end up with clumped up zest) Add the egg, vanilla extract and the nuts. Melt the chocolate and butter either in a microwave or over a bowl of simmering water. It will be barely warm ideally, so you can add the melted chocolate to the flour mixture and mix to form a dough. The recipe says mix half a tablespoon of water if the mixture feels dry. I had to add 1 1/2 tablespoon water to make the dough sticky (as in most biscotti recipes) When the chocolate melts properly, less water will be needed. So watch this. I made a sticky dough.
Dump the dough on the lined tray. Using an oiled spatula or wet hands, shape the dough into a log, roughly 1.5 cm thick and 11 inches long. ( I made mine about 8x3) Bear in mind that the log will spread when you bake. Bake until the log is risen, firm to the touch, but springy, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool on a rack. If baking in an OTG, do not turn it off, reduce the temperature to 150 degrees C. (If baking in a microwave, it will take you hardly anytime to pre-heat again). Let the log cool at least 15-20 minutes. This log was quite fragile, so careful.
Lift the log along with the parchment. Using a serrated knife, slice the log diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. Lay them on the parchment lined tin on their sides and bake for about 10 -15minutes on each side. The biscotti may not feel crisp or hard when warm but will crisp up as they cool. Watch them carefully and do not bake too long unless you are really sure. Since the biscotti is dark in color, its difficult to make out any change in color (which why I have played safe and used the lined tin for baking them again). If you bake too long, they may taste slightly bitter and burnt.
Cool completely on the wire rack and store in an airtight container.
Variations : Omit the orange zest, use instant coffee say about a teaspoon, sift along with the flour. Use almonds in place of the walnuts add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
The original recipe (for half the recipe) uses 100 grams /3.5 oz SRF, plus 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 25 grams of ground semolina. The recipe says bake at 160 degrees C (the second time) for 10 minutes. I have reduced the temperature and baked about 15 minutes on each side as I normally bake biscotti. Bake for lesser time or long enough to get the texture of your preference.