These biscotti certainly are not your Italian grandmother’s cookies, but they are delectable and, once you collect the ingredients, simple to make, albeit with a number of steps. They are a favorite of anyone who has tasted them and may be the best cookie you will ever taste. The candied zest, toasted coconut, and toasted almonds can be prepared days, weeks, or months in advance and frozen or refrigerated.
- 4 cups (18 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾–1 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs (jumbo), plus egg white from 1 additional egg for egg wash
- ¼ cup orange simple syrup, plus a little for the egg wash (The orange simple syrup is a byproduct of making the candied orange zest. Refrigerated in a Ball jar, it keeps indefinitely.)
- 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- 1 teaspoon pure coconut extract (omit if what is available is synthetic, which adds an odd flavor)
- 1 teaspoon lemon oil
- 1 teaspoon orange oil (available from King Arthur Flour)
- 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup candied orange zest (not packed), chopped finely with some of the sugar it is packed in (see recipe instructions—the zest is different from a candied peel since the white pith is not used)
- 2 cups almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1½–2 cups shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
King Arthur Flour is an excellent online source for high-quality chocolate, including chips and cocoa. Different cocoas have different fat contents, and cocoa with higher fat content has better flavor. I always order chocolate while the weather is cold, so it does not melt in shipping.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
In a separate bowl, cream butter with both sugars until fluffy. Then add and beat in eggs 1 at a time. Finally, add and beat in all of the extracts, flavored oils, and orange simple syrup. Always scrape down the sides between additions to ensure everything is mixed. Then mix in the chopped candied orange zest and the flour mixture. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little extra flour. Mix in nuts and chocolate at the end. The final mixture should be stiff and very slightly sticky. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least ½ hour up to 2 hours. If you let it rest overnight, the dough will be very stiff and hard to work.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. With parchment paper or Silpat, cover a half sheet pan with sides. (Because of the egg-white glaze, Silpat or a similar surface is preferable to make the baked logs easier to slide off onto a board for cutting.)
Roll the rested dough into logs on a sugared (not floured) surface. The logs should be about 1½ to 2 inches wide and 1 inch tall by 13 to 15 inches long. Place the logs carefully on the pan. Leave at least 3 inches between the logs. They will expand in baking. The dough will make 3 to 3½ logs and will need 2 batches to cook. After you form the logs and place them on the baking sheet, brush the tops and sides liberally with a mixture of egg white and orange simple syrup. This gives the biscotti a slight sheen when baked and helps stabilize the biscotti for cutting after the first baking. Sprinkle more sugar on top after brushing on the glaze. You can purchase crystalline sugar that is attractive on the finished cookies for this use.
Cook at 350°F for 35 minutes (or 45 minutes if you refrigerate overnight), rotating the pan halfway through. (I think you get a better result if you only use 1 pan in the oven at a time.) Remove from the oven, and cool until logs can be handled—about 15 to 30 minutes. As they cool, the logs become easier to cut without crumbling, so cooling is very important.
Carefully move the cooled logs onto a cutting board, using a spatula to assist. Carefully cut at an angle with a serrated knife. Pieces should be thick enough (½ inch at least) so that individual pieces will stand up for the second baking. Place the sliced cookies standing up and slightly separated on the baking pan. Lower the oven temperature to 275°F (or 250°F convection) and bake again for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool. The cookies will crisp as they cool. Store in freezer for longer life (if they last that long).
Making the Candied Orange Zest
Make the candied orange zest by zesting 3 or more oranges (carefully using no bitter white pith) with a vegetable peeler. Cook the zest at a simmer in a couple cups of simple syrup (a mixture of equal parts of filtered water and cane sugar) until the liquid thickens slightly and the zest is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Notwithstanding every recipe I have read that suggests blanching the zest in plain water, discarding the liquid (sometimes repeatedly) before cooking in the simple syrup, I do not do this and regard it as a senseless waste of time, effort, and flavor. Lift out the cooked, softened zest with tongs, letting them drip. Remove the softened, still wet but not dripping zest to a generous bed of dry cane sugar, tossing until separated and well coated. Let the zest dry in this sugar for a couple of hours.
Refrigerate (1) the zest and remaining coating sugar in a Mason jar and (2) the reduced orange simple syrup in a second Mason jar to be used for flavoring. (Mixed in equal parts with egg white, this flavored simple syrup makes an excellent glaze.) Reuse the stored orange simple syrup, adding equal parts as needed of water and sugar to make future batches of candied orange zest; as it is reused, the orange flavor becomes more intense. As with honey, if the stored syrup starts to crystallize, simply heat to refresh, adding water if needed.
Editor’s Note: Recipe courtesy of Kenneth M. Horwitz, author of Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style. The book is available for purchase at www.deepflavorscookbook.com or on Amazon or Kindle.