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Venice Coffee House or Cape Coral?

March 26, 2010 - Jill Anderson

I've never been a huge fan of the Italian cookie, biscotti.  The original is flavored with anise and even though chefs are supposed to be adventurous and eat anything that isn't nailed down...I dislike the flavor of anise!

The texture of biscotti is like those arrowroot cookies I bought for my children when they were teething.  Sort of a cross between sweet melba toast and a hockey puck.  That was before I realized that they are MEANT to be dipped in wine, coffee or some other beverage...not gnawed on until they melt!

But they are so pretty and look so neat and "uptown" on the plate!  Besides, if you dip something in good, dark chocolate it has to be delicious right?  If I were forced to choose the one ingredient I couldn't be without, I'd have to choose coconut.  So why not put the two together in a beautiful biscotti?

That is exactly what I did.  I think of these as my "Mounds" Biscotti because they take the flavors of my favorite candy bar and combine them into a cookie.  Of course "Mounds" is a trademarked name so we'll just stick to calling these Dark Chocolate Coconut Biscotti.

Twice Baked Beats Half-Baked

The word biscotti (pronounced bis-scoat-tee) literally means "twice baked" in Italian.  Thought to have originated in the Tuscany region, these biscuits were travel food because they resisted mold and held up during a journey.  Biscotti can be sweet or savory but traditionally were an after dinner treat that was dipped in dessert wine.

The charactaristic crisp texture is achieved by first baking the dough in long solid slabs until it is firmed up and "half-baked."  The dough should hold together and not fall apart.  It is sliced while warm and the slices or biscuits are layed out on the sheet pan and returned to the oven to crisp and brown.  Without this step, too much moisture would have remained in the biscuit making it unsuitable for carrying on long trips.

It is believed that biscotti were carried to American shores by Christopher Columbus himself because it would have been standard fare on ocean going vessels at that time. 

Making Biscotti

The method is actually simpler than it sounds.  The dough is very dense with a low moisture to flour ratio and can be shaped easily.  I usually divide my dough into two equal portions.  That makes the slabs of dough roughly the same size so they bake evenly.

Cutting the slabs into the individual biscuits while they are still warm is the key to a successful biscotti endeavor.  If you wait until the slabs of half baked dough are cooled...forget it!  You'll have a cookie sheet full of crumbs and bits.

Make slices as even (thickness) as possible so they toast or crisp at the same rate.  Turning the slices over once during baking is best so the biscotti dries all the way through and toasts on both sides.

Here is my recipe for Coconut Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Drizzle for you to try.  I had some for breakfast this morning with blood orange slices and a cup of Cafe Verona.  I have a canal out back...Italian biscuits, coffee and fruit.  Are you sure this isn't Venice?

Coconut Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

1/2 cup room temperature organic unsalted butter

1 cup Florida Crystals organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons coconut extract

2 extra large organic cage free eggs

3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon find kosher salt

1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut flakes (can sub regular sweetened if they don't contain high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup solids)

12 ounces 70% cacao chocolate chips, melted

extra coconut flakes for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream butter for one minute.  Beat in sugar 1/4/ cup at a time until mixture is light and fluffy.  This should take at least 3-4 minutes.
  2. Beat in coconut extract.  Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add to butter mixture in three installments, beating until no dry spots remain.  Beat in flaked coconut.
  4. Turn mixture out onto counter and divide into two equal portions.  Shape each into a log about 10" long.  Transfer logs to parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten with hands or rolling pin until logs are about 3" wide.  They will get a little longer as you flatten but try to keep the basic shape at 10-11 inches long by 3-4 inches wide.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove tray from oven to a heat proof surface.  Immediately slice logs into 1 inch wide strips using a sharp knife, pizza cutter or pastry cutter.  Turn slices on their sides and spread out evenly.  Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more or until slices have browned slightly.  Turn and bake 10 minutes on second side.
  6. Cool biscotti completely before coating with chocolate
  7. Melt chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave safe container.  If microwaving, stir after 20 seconds and only heat until just melted.
  8. Dip the bottoms of cooled biscotti in chocolate and scrape off excess with the side of a butter knife.  Stand (upside down) on plate and place in fridge to set chocolate.  When bottoms have set, remove biscotti to a parchment lined surface (counter or cool pan).  Spoon remaining chocolate into a zipper bag, squeeze into one end and snip of the tip.  Use bag to drizzle chocolate across tops of biscotti.  Top with flaked coconut while chocolate is still wet.  Chill to set before packing in airtight containers.

Recipe makes about 34 pieces (depending on how you roll and cut).  They will literally keep for months in a tin in the fridge.  Use for dipping in coffee, tea, wine or even with a chilled fruit soup.

Food Quote For Today

"Diet Coke with lemon - Didn't that used to be called Pledge?"  Jay Leno, comedian and late night television host


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Coconut Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Drizzle