Wednesday, January 16, 2008
For this biscotti I used spelt flour in place of all purpose. I try to put in whole grain flours whenever possible, and I have found I really enjoy them in cookies especially chocolate cookies. The cocoa powder complements the earthiness of the flour and you usually pick up on the little bits of grain from the flour and it gives it a nice texture. If you haven't done much baking with whole grain flours I would recommend going slowly by substituting 1/3 to 1/2 of the white flour with whole grain flour (and there are a lot of different ones out there). For cookies it doesn't affect them much, some other baked goods might become heavier, more dense or may need a little more moisture. I have found spelt, since it is relatively low in gluten, works really well in baked products, as well as whole wheat pastry flour. They both have a lower protein content which means less gluten is going to be formed which means the product will be more tender. So feel free to use all purpose flour or a combination or if you have been baking with whole grain flours already, try with 100% whole wheat and see what you think. Even though these are a treat that doesn't mean they can't provide some nutritional benefit.
(adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dori Greenspan)
2 cups spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 TBS instant espresso
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 TBS butter (soft)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (I used almonds but you could use anything)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Sift all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together as best you can, the mixture will be pretty crumbly. You can add one of the eggs to help and then continue mixing until it is well creamed. Add the other egg and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry adding the nuts and chocolate about 1/2 way through. At this point it will be very stiff and you can switch to using your hands if you prefer. After everything is mixed in, you want to divide the dough in half and form two logs about 2 inches wide and 1 inch high. You may need a little flour on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them. Place the logs on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment or greased. If you want, you can sprinkle some coarse sugar on top before putting it into the oven. Make sure the logs have enough room between them to expand (about 2 inches). Bake them for about 20-30 minutes until they feel firm to the touch (gently press in the middle). Take them out of the oven and keep it on, but let the logs cool for 20 minutes or so then carefully (with a serrated knife) cut into slices. You can do it on a strong bias if you like long, bigger biscotti (about 3/4" wide) or you can cut straight across if you want smaller ones- up to you . Lay them back onto the sheet pan and return them to the oven for the second bake about 10-15 more minutes until they feel semi dry and firm to the touch. Once the cookies are cool you want them crunchy, so if you discover they aren't cooked enough you can always return them to the oven and dry them out a little further.
*I'm sure you've seen other biscotti recipes and you'll almost always see variations attached, because it is such a flexible cookie you can have any sort of chocolate or nut or dried fruit or spice you want to it. Make sure you keep the "add ins" to about the same amount listed here or less, so the cookies have enough batter to hold them together. The smaller the nuts are chopped the easier it is to cut the cookies.