These deep winter months are for getting cozy and embracing the things that comfort us. And this year, more than ever, I'm gravitating toward foods and activities that make home a fun and appealing place to be. One of the best ways to turn a mere dwelling into a palace of coziness is by baking a batch of cookies and brewing a fresh pot of coffee.
The following recipe for chocolate biscotti embraces both, since a cup of hot coffee is requisite for enjoying these cookies as they are meant to be enjoyed. Dip the finished biscotti in melted chocolate or not; either way, they are decadent, satisfying and perfect for a day of watching the snow fall from the warm embrace of your favorite armchair.
Yield: 34 biscotti
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ cup dried black figs
2 cups flour
½ cup natural or Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
2 large eggs
½ cup chopped walnuts
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, for dipping (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350°. Line half sheet pan with parchment paper. Chop bittersweet chocolate into ⅛-inch pieces (very fine). De-stem and slice figs into thin discs.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, chopped bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.
3. Beat butter, dark brown sugar and orange zest in bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment at medium speed. When mixture is creamy, add eggs one at a time, and beat thoroughly between each addition.
4. Add flour mixture all at once. Beat until mixture just comes together; add walnuts and figs, and beat until just combined.
5. Spill dough onto a clean countertop and roll it into two 12-inch logs. Place logs 4 inches apart on the sheet pan and bake 30 minutes, or until tops of logs begin to crack and they are firm to the touch.
6. Remove logs from oven and let sit until they are cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes, or longer.
7. Transfer logs to a cutting board and, using a bread knife, slice crosswise on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick cookies.
Place cookies, cut sides up, onto the sheet pan (crowding them to fit, if necessary) and bake 10 to 15 minutes. (You want the cookies to crisp, but not burn.) Remove cookies from oven, and cool completely.
8. Melt 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pot of hot (not boiling) water. When chocolate is completely melted and smooth, remove it from top of pot and wipe bowl completely dry.
9. Holding a cookie by the end, dip it half way into the melted chocolate, holding it above the bowl for a few seconds to let the excess chocolate drip off. Place cookies on a fresh, parchment-lined sheet pan and allow to set completely at a cool room temperature before serving.
Storage: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and away from direct heat, for up to a week.