High Country Baking: Wake up to cappuccino biscotti – born to dunk
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan and cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Born to dunk … if this cappuccino biscotti had a tattoo, that’s what it would proudly proclaim. It’s a European-style biscotti, made without butter and with only a small amount of wet ingredients, which makes it much firmer than its cake-like namesake found in American bakeries. In truth, this is as crunchy and crisp a cookie as you can get… perfect for dunking in almost any beverage you fancy.
The taste, like the texture, has a European flair. Coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves and almond meld into a complex flavor reminiscent of cappuccino. Dip it in espresso or amaretto, and you can almost imagine you’re lounging in an Italian cafe.
It takes nearly as much time to read the list of ingredients as it does to get this cookie into the oven. After you chop the nuts, simply blend the dry ingredients in a bowl, the wet ones in a second container, and then combine them. Form the resulting dough into logs, and you’re done. Biscotti (which means twice baked) bake until firm and then get sliced into cookies and bake again, until each is light golden and dry.
Though the glaze isn’t necessary, the addition of a drizzle of chocolate enhances the overall taste and texture; I recommend it.
Because of the lack of fat and the firm texture, the cookies have a long shelf life. I’ve stored mine in an airtight container for at least a week.
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 scant teaspoon baking soda (scant means slightly less than)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄4 cup plus tablespoon brewed espresso, cooled
1 tablespoon plus 11⁄2 teaspoons milk
1 large egg yolk
11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons almonds, toasted
1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Optional Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick aluminum foil. Medium-chop the toasted almonds (cut each nut into three to four pieces), and set them aside.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves in a large mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer or whisk, blend them thoroughly. In a small bowl or 2-cup measure, whisk the cooled espresso, the milk, egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and beat until a stiff dough is formed. If you’re doing this by hand, you may have to knead the dough to bring it together. Stir or knead in the chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
Put the dough on the prepared pan, divide it in half, and form it into two flattish logs, each about two inches wide and a foot long. Place the logs on the pan so they have at least three inches between them. Bake for thirty minutes, remove the pan from the oven to a cooling rack, and let the logs cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Place the logs on a cutting board, and use a serrated knife to cut them crosswise, on the diagonal, into slices a little less than an inch wide. Place the slices back on the cookie sheet, one cut side down, and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, until lightly golden. Flip the slices over, so the other cut side is exposed, and bake for another 5 to 6 minutes. Remove, and cool completely.
If using, make the optional chocolate glaze: Finely chop the semisweet chocolate, and melt in the microwave at a low temperature until only tiny lumps remain. Remove from the microwave, add the canola oil, and whisk until smooth and shiny. Cool until the mixture is slightly thickened, and then drizzle over the cooled biscotti. Let the chocolate set, and serve or store in an airtight container for a week.
Makes 24-28 cookies.
This recipe is a variation of one from Gourmet magazine.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.