Sunday, March 27, 2011

Triple Chocolate Almond Biscotti Recipe

I love biscotti. I've been trying to cut calories lately and often, if I skip lunch, I'll head down for late afternoon tea and a snack. Lately, my favorite snack is Nonni's biscotti and a chai tea (water with a splash of milk). It clocks in at about 130 calories. It also gives me a moment to pause in the middle of a busy afternoon since I rarely take a lunch break.
One bite of the biscotti and I feel like I'm sitting in a piazza in Italy. (For a second anyway, and then I open my eyes and the Powerpoint presentation that I'm working on is staring back at me.)

This weekend I got to thinking, how hard could it be to make biscotti? I probably had everything I needed right in the house. So off I went on a Google escapade. I looked at a bunch of recipes. From Giada to Epicurious.  What to do? There's no anise in the house. It's not my favorite flavor but I must say it works well in Nonni's recipe. Hmmm, no almond extract either. Bingo! We have all sorts of baking chocolate at Casa de Elle Beau! So I stumbled on a couple of chocolate biscotti recipes and settles on one for inspiration. In addition to the inspiration for my recipe, I found a great blog, David Lebowitz. Check it out. Great pictures too. (I'll get better at that too as soon as I can find my other camera. It seems to have walked off somewhere.)

So it turns out biscotti is very easy to make and depending how you slice them, they clock in at under 100 calories. These are the classic Italian kind not the soft-ish ones you find in American bakeries that are more like a cookie. Personally, I like the crispy Italian version. And since there's no butter, there's less calories. Perfect for dunking in coffee or with a cup of hot tea.

Triple Chocolate Almond Biscotti
(Inspired by David Lebowtiz's recipe)

2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened quality cocoa powder (I used Trader Joe's since I had it on hand but the better the powder, the better the flavor)
1 tsp baking soda
2 heaping pinches of salt
3 large eggs (room temperature)
1 cup super fine sugar (note: or regular sugar put through a food processor)
1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract (note: you could also add some almond extract if you have it on hand)
1 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely ground almonds, toasted (note: I process them finely to reduce the calories and ensure the nuts made it throughout all of the dough)
Olive oil or cooking spray
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (save the rest of the bag for the dipping sauce)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse almonds in food processor. Over medium heat in a small sauté pan, add olive oil or cooking spray and toast almonds. Stir and watch constantly so they don't burn. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl beat egg, sugar, vanilla extract and olive oil.  In portions of 3-4, Slowly mix in flour into the wet ingredients.  Add in chocolate chips and almonds. The dough will be quite hard. You can add a little more olive oil if you need to make it a bit more pliable.

Take the dough and roll it an flatten it into two long logs. Place on a Silpat or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Let the logs cool down for about 15 minutes. Then slice them about 1/2 inch on the bias with a serrated knife. If they start to break up a bit, don't despair. Squish the slice back together a bit since they are going to be baked again. They'll hold together when they're done.

Lay slices back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the pan around in the oven halfway thought. Set your timer for ten minutes twice so you don't forget!

When they are done, cool them on a backing rack. When cooled, melt some semi-sweet chips in a double boiler over very low heat. Add a big splash of milk and a tiny splash of vanilla extract and stir until completely smooth. If the chocolate gets a bit grainy from the vanilla add a bit more milk and keep stirring until the chocolate is smooth again. Turn off heat and remove from double boiler. Dip one side of the biscotti in the chocolate while it's still warm. I use a knife to remove extra drips of chocolate and to ensure the chocolate layer is on the thin side. Set on wax paper to cool.

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