The first recipe for July is Hazelnut Biscotti. Knowing I would be spending the first week of July in Southern California, I planned to make these before I left. Thankfully, the biscotti were one of the quicker recipes to come together. Blanching and peeling hazelnuts was the most labor-intensive part of the process. I tackled that task on Thursday, and prepared and baked the cookies the next day.
I make a practice to read through the P&Q prior to tackling a recipe to get an idea of what others are doing. Not being a huge fan of “plain” biscotti, I latched onto one of our fellow baker’s suggestion of making half of the biscotti chocolate.
Out came the canister of Valrhona cocoa powder. But how much to add? And how much flour to remove? My first hunch was not to remove an equivalent amount of flour thinking that since cocoa powder has no gluten, I’d miss the strength in the batter; I even tried bread flour. I went with 3 Tbs. of cocoa powder for half a recipe of biscotti, and reduced the flour to 2/3 cup (as written the recipe would require 1/2 + 1/3 cup).
I prepared a half recipe of regular Hazelnut Biscotti dough first, formed that into the log on the paper lined baking sheet, then prepared the chocolate dough in the same bowl. The cocoa powder sucked up a lot of moisture; the resulting dough was both considerable drier, as well as having a much thicker consistency than the regular dough.
The chocolate biscotti did not spread much at all during the first baking. As a result, the chocolate log was thicker and the slices not as long. Once twice-baked to a crisp, this difference wasn’t particularly noticeable. When trying this again, I would play with the cocoa-flour ratio, probably up the cocoa powder to 1/2 cup for a full recipe, and remove 5/8 cup flour, sticking with the all-purpose flour called for in the normal recipe.
I ended up with some very crunchy cookies. I took that as an opportunity to finish off a small amount of red dessert wine that had taken up residence in my fridge. Were looking to guild the lily, next time I’d probably dip them in some good dark chocolate after baking and cooling.