Chocolate cherry biscotti with cocoa nibs

October 29, 2008 4:54:48 PM PDT
A quick and easy recipe revealed.

Chocolate-Cherry Biscotti with Cocoa Nibs Recipe
Yield: about 48 cookies

These crumbly, yet crisp biscotti are loaded with crushed bitter chocolate nibs (the inside of the cocoa bean), dark red Dutch process cocoa, and dried sweetened sour cherries. Almond extract and kirsch intensify the cherry flavor. These biscotti are not at all traditional, but they sure are delicious, easy to make, and long-keeping. Baker's ammonia will make them extra-crisp, but baking powder may be substituted.

14 ounces (31/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ounces (1/2 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon) Dutch process cocoa
2 teaspoons baker's ammonia, substitute baking powder
Pinch salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup Brown Butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup kirsch
11/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (1 cup) crushed cocoa nibs
11/2 cups dried tart cherries
1/2 pound (11/2 cups) hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skins rubbed off, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baker's ammonia, and salt. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Slowly beat in the brown butter, then add the kirsch, almond extract, and vanilla, and beat lightly to combine. Fold in the flour mix, then fold in the cocoa nibs and cherries.

Lightly oil your hands and form the dough into two logs, each about 11/2 inches wide and 3/4-inch thick. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheets equidistant from each other with at least 2 inches of space in between. Sprinkle the dough with raw sugar, patting so the sugar adheres. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned but still soft in the center. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Using a sharp knife, slice the logs diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices upright onto the baking sheets. (The cookie slices will be somewhat fragile.) Bake again for about 20 minutes, or until crispy. Store in an airtight container.

The cookies will keep for at least a month in dry weather.

Spanish Orange and Olive Oil Cake
Yield: One 8-inch cake, 10 to 12 servings

Spain is a major world grower of the two main ingredients in this cake: oranges and olives. In Spain, oranges flavor all sorts of desserts, including flan (baked caramel-topped custard), cakes with almonds, and tarts. In Moorish-influenced Andalusia, mermelada de naranja ácida-marmalade, made from the region's bitter or Seville oranges, is used for its body and intense bittersweet flavor in desserts and savory dishes. This moist, syrupy cake of Sephardic Jewish origin became a big hit when baked in the shape of a Star of David at Max and David's (www.maxanddavids.com), the kosher restaurant where Aliza designed the menu.

Cake
7 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs, separated
11/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk, substitute almond milk
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1 orange (4 teaspoons)

Syrup
2 oranges
11/2 cups orange juice
11/2 cups sugar

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with nonstick baker's coating, or rub with softened butter and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.

Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.

In a bowl or quart-size measuring cup, whisk together the milk, olive oil, and orange zest. Add to the egg yolk mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, beating just long enough to combine.

In the clean and greaseless bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until fluffy. Add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are firm and glossy, 4 to 5 minutes. Fold the meringue into the batter one-third at a time, so as not to deflate the meringue. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick or skewer stuck in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack until it is warm to the touch, then invert and cool completely.

Make the syrup: Peel the orange rind using a swivel-blade peeler into long, thin strips without much white pith. Cut the strips crosswise into thin slices Section both oranges and reserve. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the orange zest strips and bring the liquid back to a boil over high heat. Boil 1 minute, then drain.

In a large saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar, and the blanched orange zest strips. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the syrup is slightly thickened, skimming as necessary. Strain the syrup and reserve the orange strips along with 1/2 cup of the syrup. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the cake, and then pour the remaining syrup all over the cake.

Place the 1/2 cup syrup and the strips of zest in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and cook down until the syrup thickens and just begins to darken, about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to spread the thick glaze over the top of the cake. Place the cake on a serving platter, and arrange the reserved orange sections on top of the cake, cut into serving portions, and serve.

About Aliza Green
This November, nine-time author and chef Aliza Green follows her masterful, 1,000+page Starting with Ingredients (Running Press, 2006) with an equally comprehensive sequel, Starting with Ingredients: Baking. Green's books have garnered national attention and a devoted following, and her innovative structure - literally "starting with ingredients" - organizes the recipes so that readers understand the most important baking ingredients, their origins, how they're used, and how they work. The carefully categorized, functional format has proven popular with the success of Starting with Ingredients.

The recipes in Starting with Ingredients: Baking span both sweet and savory categories. In the chapter that covers Alcohol, Babas al Limoncello Pansa, are small, light puffy cakes soaked in lemon liqueur syrup that Green enjoyed at Pasticceria Pansa, an historic bakery in Amalfi, Italy. Green convinced its fifth-generation owner to share his recipe, then translated it from Italian and adapted it for American kitchens. In the Cherry chapter, Chocolate Cherry Biscotti with Cocoa Nibs are easy to make, sweet treats that Green created to combine a few of her favorite ingredients: Michigan dried tart cherries, toasted hazelnuts, and bits of crunchy dark cocoa nibs. In the Corn chapter, Turkish Savory Cornbread is a savory take on familiar American cornbread, here studded with black olives and feta cheese and flavored with fresh dill, which comes from Turkey's Black Sea coast. In the Oils chapter, Spanish Orange and Olive Oil Cake is a moist, dairy-free cake enriched with fruity olive oil and sweetened with juicy oranges and candied zest. "The recipes here will appeal to people who cook (and bake) with the seasons, who love to travel, and try new restaurants and unfamiliar foods."

For more information on "Starting with Ingredients: Baking" or Aliza Green, please visit www.alizagreen.com.

Buy the book on Amazon: Starting with Ingredients: Baking


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