Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Temper, temper: Chocolate-Cherry Biscotti

I adore eating biscotti. So much flavor, so much crunch. And so versatile: good for breakfast (dipped in coffee), good for an afternoon pick-me-up (dipped in coffee), good for dessert (dipped in chocolate, then dipped in coffee).

And I adore making biscotti. Biscotti are more time consuming than cookies, but I find the whole process downright theapeutic. So many details to take care of: making the dough, forming the logs, baking the logs, cutting the logs, putting the cookies back in the oven, dipping them in chocolate. When I want to feel accomplished, biscotti are the way to go.

But, I have to admit, I haven't quite mastered the dipping or drizzling with chocolate step. I have tried a couple of methods for tempering chocolate. For the chocolate dipped strawberries, I did a stovetop method. This time, I thought I would try a microwave method. I used about 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips and placed them in a microwave safe bowl. I microwaved the chocolate at 30 second intervals. I ended up doing 3. Dipping the biscotti didn't quite work because there was only enough chocolate in the bowl to cover 1/8 of the biscotti. So I ended up 'painting' the chocolate on with a spatula. This appears to have worked alright. The lesson: if dipping biscotti, make sure the chocolate is deep enough or your bowl wide enough to cover at least half the cookie.

And then for the drizzling. Or should I say the disaster? It seems so easy, right? Dip your fork in the chocolate, then move your fork back and forth over the biscotti as the chocolate drips down. I certainly moved the fork back and forth, but the chocolate would not cooperate. Either it wouldn't flow at all or it would flood onto the biscotti all at once. Emmanuelle, advice? Was the chocolate too warm? Not warm enough?

In the end, there were biscotti covered with chocolate, so I came out ahead. But I realize I haven't quite got the tempering process down.

Cherry Almond Biscotti with Chocolate (adapted from King Arthur Flour The All Purpose Baking Book)
Makes about 60

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 cup lightly toasted, coarsely chopped almonds
3/4 c+ coarsely diced dried cherries (I used 3/4 cup, but thought they could do with a bit more)
6 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, almond extract, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the flour 1 cup at a time, until you have a cohesive, well-mixed dough. Add the almonds and cherries, mixing until they're distributed throughout the dough.

Transfer the dough to a work surface. Divide it into three fairly equal pieces and shape each piece into a rough 12 inch log [or into two 9-inch logs]. Transfer log to parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches between them; you man need two baking sheets.

Bake the logs for 20-25 minutes, until they're beginning to brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven and let them rest for 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Gently transfer logs to a cutting surface and use a serrated knife to cut them on the diagonal into 1/2 inch wide slices. Because of the nuts and the nature of the dough, the biscotti at this point are prone to crumbling; just be sure to use a slow, gentle sawing motion and accept the fact that some bits and pieces will break off (I love this part of the recipe). Carefully transfer the slices, cut sides up, to a parchment lined baking sheet. You can crowd them together, as they won't expand further; about 1/4 inch breathing room is all that is required.

Return biscotti to oven and baken them for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, quickly turn them over, and bake for an addition 15 minutes, or until they're very dry and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven, cool completely.

Pour chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is just melted. (It took me 3 intervals). Then, dip or drizzle tempered chocolate over biscotti. Put biscotti in fridge for 30 minutes to let chocolate set.

No comments:

Post a Comment