December 22, 2020
I grew up with my mother making Mandelbrot, a Jewish crunchy cookie, twice baked. So it’s not so strange that in the late 90’s I found biscotti, an Italian crunchy cookie, twice baked. Coffee shops were popping up around New York City and in this one coffee shop downtown where I got off the subway for graduate school, I would buy a cappuccino and a chocolate biscotti.
I didn’t think to try to make my own chocolate biscotti until I came across a recipe in Gourmet Magazine in 1994. It was a December holiday cookie issue, overflowing (and yes, it was overwhelming) with cookie ideas. Like a radar I zoomed on this biscotti recipe. It had walnuts instead of almonds, but that made it interesting. You might be tempted to leave out the nuts, as I always do, but I implore you the first time you make them, leave the walnuts in. You will thank me later.
These biscotti were so delicious that I started selling them. I baked two to three times a week to keep the cookie jar stocked at a local food market/prepared food store. That’s when I realized that while I loved to bake, I didn’t want to bake because I had to. Meeting those baking deadlines took the fun out of it.
I'm still making these biscotti, 26 years after I made my first batch in my small galley kitchen on the Upper West Side.
Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
Slightly adapted from Gourmet Magazine, December, 1994
For the Biscotti
2 cups (246 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons), softened
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (115 grams) walnuts, chopped and toasted (optional, but highly recommended)
1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. On low, stir in the flour mixture a little bit at a time. The dough will become very crumbly. Keep mixing it until it becomes very stiff. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
On the prepared baking sheet, with floured hands, form the dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12” long and 2” wide. (I always keep a ruler handy in the kitchen for directions like these). You may have to press the dough to form the logs, as some stray pieces will crumble off. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Bake logs for 35 minutes, until slightly firm to the touch.
Lower your oven to 300ºF. Cool biscotti for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, cut biscotti into 3/4 of an inch slices. Arrange biscotti cut side down and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes more. Cool biscotti on a rack.
Biscotti will keep in an airtight container for 5 days. Makes about 30 biscotti.