Biscotti is an Italian cookie that has superhero powers in the category of shelf life. That's because the cookie is twice-baked, and that process dries it out so it lasts longer. What exactly does it mean to bake a cookie twice? Well, first you shape the dough into a log on your baking sheet and bake it for Round 1. After this first baking period, you take the baking sheet out and slice the log into those familiar long cookies that we love so much. You then place them back on the baking sheet facing upright (imagine they're tanning at the beach and want to get maximum sun exposure), and off they go to bake for Round 2!
Those Italians sure came up with something good. And fortunately for us, it's a cookie that's available all over the place. You don't have to go to Italy to eat one (though a trip to Italy to get a biscotti makes a pretty good story, or an excuse for a vacation). Ever notice while waiting in the line at Starbucks that they sell individually wrapped biscotti? Makes sense. They are great coffee dunkers. And while biscotti just implies a simple twice-baked cookie with basic ingredients, gourmet, exotic, adventurous variations on the traditional can be found in cookbooks and bakeries everywhere. You'll find that nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chunks all get tossed into the batter, or the finished, baked cookie even gets dipped in chocolate. In fact, a plain biscotti today seems so boring!
One of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and orange, so putting them together in a biscotti sounds like my kind of heaven. This recipe is easy to prepare and has a hearty helping of chocolate chunks and orange zest. Do take the time to chop up a chocolate bar. It will work (and taste) soooo much better than using mini chocolate chips. So far, I'm going on one week that these biscotti have kept like new in an airtight container. I love that I feel no sense of urgency to finish eating the whole batch quickly before they go bad. These guys are going to last. And that means I'm going to take my time, savor each bite, and probably still be eating them in two weeks. Truly a cookie with superhero powers.
Adapted from a recipe by Marcel Desaulniers in Death By Chocolate Cookie
Makes 4 dozen biscotti
4 cups all-purpose flour plus up to 1/2 cup for shaping the dough
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-ounce pieces
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons minced orange zest (or more!)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (don't use chocolate chips because they're not easy to slice)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a large piece of wax paper and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed until soft, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and continue beating for 4 more minutes until very smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the orange zest and beat on high for 30 seconds. On low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients by lifting the wax paper carefully to the mixer and pouring the ingredients in. Add the chopped chocolate and mix on low for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and and continue mixing the chocolate in until well incorporated. A wooden spoon or strong rubber spatula work well.
Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the biscotti dough to this surface and divide the dough into four equal portions. Use additional flour as necessary if the dough gets sticky. Shape each portion into a log that measures 8 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 1/4 inches high. You can also shape these logs directly onto the prepared baking sheets so you don't have to lift them once shaped. Two logs should fit on each baking sheet, placed about 2 inches apart.
For Round 1 of the two baking times, bake the biscotti logs on the top and center racks of the preheated oven for 35 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch, rotating the sheets from top to center halfway through the baking time (at that time also turn each sheet 180 degrees). Remove the biscotti logs from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F.
Let the logs cool for about 15 minutes so you'll be able to handle them. Then, place a log onto a cutting board and use a very sharp serrated knife to slice the log into 12 cookies. The slices should be at a diagonal angle and about 1/2-inch thick. The rounded ends of the log can be discarded or eaten (Mmmm, eaten is a much better option). Do the same for the other logs. Return the slices to the baking sheet, this time facing up. You might be able to fit all of them snugly onto the same sheet they were first baked on, but you might need a third sheet.
For Round 2 of the two baking times, bake the biscotti slices on the top and center racks of the preheated oven for 30 minutes until crisp and evenly browned, rotating the sheets from top to center halfway through the baking time (at that time also turn each sheet 180 degrees). Remove the biscotti from the oven and allow them to cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight plastic container.
Storage: The biscotti will last for 2 to 3 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They also freeze well. Just be sure to wrap them well and place in an airtight container in the freezer.