Triple Chocolate-Pecan Biscotti
I ask you, can one be OWNED by biscotti? Because this past weekend, I became captivated by a recipe for them, with motivation to do little else than bake them and get them in my belly. I was twinkly-eyed, distracted, lovelorn for this biscotti.
So as of today, my refrigerator is still badly in need of a clean-out. Laundry is sitting in heaps, mocking me. And I'm not entirely certain I still have a living room rug under all those flippin' wooden puzzle pieces that are constantly stabbing me in the metatarsals. But you know what I am sure of? Domestic failures don't seem nearly as depressing when you survey them while munching these completely addictive Triple Chocolate-Pecan biscotti. So make a batch, and you, too, might be able to put off mopping those floors for one more week! You're welcome.
Full disclosure: I've not had great luck with biscotti recipes in the past. I know, I know, I can hear your cries of "ohhh, but they're so fun to make and so eeeeeaaasy!". Well, I know they're supposed to be fun and easy, and maybe it was my lack of a biscotti thumb or whatever, but until now, I'd never turned out a batch that I would consider to be transcendent, and besides that, they'd get all crumbly during slicing before the final bake, or they'd be weirdly coarse or so hard you could crack a veneer or just generally uninteresting. But lo, we have a winner now, people. And it comes from the cookbook I'm currently keeping under my pillow at night, Karen DeMasco's totally lovely The Craft of Baking.
These glorious chocolate biscotti (actually triple-chocolate, if you're counting--in powdered, chipped and dipped forms) actually had me thinking I was headed for another failure at first, because the dough is so crazy soft and sticky, it's really more like a thick brownie batter, and I was all, "WTF, Karen?". But with my beloved bench scraper (which I hope you have and if not, please save yourself and get one) and a generous dusting of flour on my work surface (and I do mean generous--like a 1/3 cup or more), I was able to cajole the soft dough into planks for the first bake.
Turns out, I think the super wet dough is what makes these biscotti so amazing--light, fine-textured, delicate and crisp, not jaw-achingly cronch-y like so many coffee shop specimens that give biscotti a bad name. It also makes for an easy slicing before the final bake, which this biscotti-wary baker was very grateful for.
Also, I need to tell you that the chocolate flavor here is so bold, it's almost surprising. As I am wont to do, I used Valrhona cocoa, which I'm sure didn't hurt, but the real secret here is a sort of homemade coffee extract that DeMasco uses often in her recipes, and like the way a great vanilla extract boosts all those dreamy notes of sweet butter and sugar in other recipes, the bright flavor of coffee adds a roundness to chocolate that is so next-level, I simply don't have the adjectives on me to explain it. It's like a chocolatey punch in the face. But in a good way. See, I told you I didn't have the adjectives to spare.
After the last bake, even just bare and plucked straight off the baking sheet, these biscotti had me at hello. In fact, I immediately scarfed down a second one, you know, just to be sure. Yep, I was definitely in a relationship with this biscotti. But that wasn't enough for me. I needed to make this understanding official, and take things to the next level. And so, I did the only logical thing.
This dough is extremely sticky, so have lots of extra flour standing by before you begin working with it. If pecans aren't your thing, walnuts, almonds and pistachios would all be nice here too. I am suggesting a half-and-half blend of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping, because for me, it's the perfect balance, but if you'd like to use just one kind of chips, go for semi-sweet.
Makes about 3 dozen
For the cookies:
1 cup pecan pieces, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon hot water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (regular size is fine)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli 60% cacao)
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Position an oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Place the pecan pieces in a small baking pan. Toast for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
Stir together the instant espresso powder and hot water in a small bowl to make a coffee extract. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, baking soda and salt. Beat on low speed until the butter is no longer visible and the mixture resembles hot cocoa powder, about 4 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and coffee extract. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture until well-blended. Stir in the cooled pecans and mini chocolate chips.
Generously cover a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the work surface, and flour your hands well, too--the dough will be very soft and sticky. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough in half, and shape each portion into a plank, about 16 inches long by 2 inches wide (don't fear having too much flour on the outside of the planks--you can dust off the excess later). Carefully transfer them to a baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
Bake until the planks are firm to the touch, 20-25 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the planks, still on the parchment or baking mat, to a cooling rack, and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.
Transfer the planks to a cutting board, and use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour. With a large serrated knife, cut the planks on the diagonal into about 1/3-inch slices. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and return them to the oven until they are dry and firm, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on the baking sheet set on a wire rack.
Combine the bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Quick-temper the chocolate by removing half the chips to another bowl, and microwaving the remainder in 30 second bursts on high power until completely melted, stirring after each 30 second interval. Add the rest of the chips to the melted chocolate and stir until all the chips are totally melted. Dip one end of each cookie in the melted chocolate and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set at room temperature.
The biscotti can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.