The best holiday presents are homemade – and edible. Cookies are a fabulous gift choice. Who, after all, doesn’t like a cookie, or two, or ten, at holiday time. But they are typically so difficult to pack and don’t do well traveling by mail. Enter these Pistachio Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Biscotti.
Biscotti are the perfect holiday “mailing gift.” They pack easily, don’t get stale if it takes them a week to get to their destination, and go well with a steaming cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
This particular version won my heart because it is a fun take on traditional biscotti. In that spirit, I couldn’t resist giving it a tongue twister name. (Go ahead. Say Pistachio Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Biscotti five times fast and see if you don’t break out laughing.) Like any good biscotti, the ones made with this recipe are crunchy and great for dipping. And in the traditional vein, the dough is on the sweet side, but not overly so.
The fun part of the recipe is the add-ins: pistachios, dried cherries and chocolate. If you haven’t noticed, I love to pair chocolate and cherries. First rugelach, then muffins and now biscotti. And now, I’ve discovered that they make a pretty darn good threesome with pistachios. (If you are into the red-and-green theme in a big way, don’t roast the pistachios. Roasting intensifies the taste – a good thing in my view – but it does mute the color.) Those ingredients take these biscotti from mundane to divine in each bite. If you doubt me, just try one.
This year I participated in the Food Blog Love Cookie Exchange (#FBLCookieExchange.) Each of us sent a dozen of our cookies to three other bloggers. In return, three bloggers each sent us a dozen. I enjoyed scrumptious creations from Lora of Diary of a Mad Housefrau, Kelly Lynn of Kelly Lynn’s Sweet & Treats, and Tina Marie of Gluten Free Foodsmith. (Check out my Instagram feed to see those yummy delights.) My biscotti went out to three other bloggers. It’s been a wonderful way to start off the holiday season. My family and I enjoyed the gifts and thankfully I made a few extra batches of biscotti so that we can enjoy them too.
Before we get to the recipe, here are a few general tips on making biscotti:
3 Keys to Successful Biscotti
- Allot enough time. The dough comes together quickly, but you can’t rush the baking. Like cooking ribs, the secret to baking them is long and slow. Plus you bake them twice (first as a log, then sliced and baked again.) In fact, the name biscotti comes from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice cooked or baked. The cookies we now call biscotti were first made in Tuscany, from almonds, in the 14th Century. Being twice-cooked, it was so resistant to spoilage that it became a favorite of sailors, including Christopher Columbus.
- Get into a rhythm. You make the dough, form it into logs, bake them, slice them, bake them again. Do a few batches. If you mess up a few slices in the first batch, don’t despair. By the second you’ll get the hang of it. By the third, you’ll be singing as you work. Any batches beyond three, I’ll bet you’ll be dancing as you work.
- Set out enough workspace. You don’t need a huge kitchen to make biscotti, but it helps if you figure out beforehand where you will form the logs (a counter or table), slice the logs after the first bake, and cool the slices on wire racks. Like mise en place (setting out your ingredients), figuring out workspace makes the process smoother – and allows you to concentrate on making biscotti and singing, rather than frantically moving stuff at the last minute.
Pistachio Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Biscotti
A nut, dried fruit and chocolate filled version of biscotti. Perfect for dunking and delicious eaten on their own.
- 3 cups all-purpose white flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks 1 stick
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup ligh brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup shelled, unsalted, chopped pistachios, lightly roasted about 3 1/2 ounces
- 3/4 cup dried cherries cut in half if large, about 3 1/2 ounces
- 3/4 cup chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate about 4 ounces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Set aside two large cookie sheets - or better yet four, doubled so that the biscotti will bake on a double layer of cookie sheets.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, mix the chunks of butter and the white and brown sugars for about one minute on low to medium-low speed, just until they are combined. Do not continue to beat once they are combined as the texture of the dough should be dense.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, mixing just until each egg is incorporated. Incorporate the vanilla with the third (final) egg. Blend in the flour (on low speed) just until it is combined.
Combine the chopped pistachios, dried cherries and chocolate chunks. Add them to the dough and mix them in with a few strokes of the mixer, or a spatula, or even your hands.
Divide the dough into two pieces. On a parchment sheet (the size of the cookie sheet you will use to bake the biscotti on), form one piece into a log about 14 inches long and flat on the top and sides.
Move the parchment with the log onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Bake the logs until they are golden brown and firm to the touch, approximately 45 minutes. Turn them front to back and switching them from top to bottom halfway through to facilitate even baking of all sides and both logs.
Remove the cookie sheets from the oven. While the logs are still hot, slide the parchment on which you've baked one log onto a cutting board. Using a large knife and sure, deliberate strokes, slice the log at 1/2 inch intervals to create slices. Using tongs or another implement (because they are hot!) place the slices back on the cookie sheet (without the parchment.) Repeat with the other log.
Bake the biscotti slices for approximately 20 minutes total - 10 minutes on one side, then turn them on the other side and bake for 10 more. Once they are golden brown on the cut sides, transfer the slices to a wire rack to cool completely.
The reason to double the cookie sheets is to prevent the bottom of the biscotti from becoming too dark. It's not essential, but does help. If you do not have four cookie sheets and therefore bake on single sheets, check the bottoms several times to make sure they are not getting too dark. If they seem to be baking faster than the tops, lower the heat to 300 and bake for longer.
I'm obsessive, so I measure my biscotti logs with a ruler. You don't have to, but if you want to get at least 4 dozen biscotti out of the dough, your logs have to be at least 13 inches long and the slices must be about 1/2-inch thick.
Slicing the biscotti logs after the first bake inevitably results in some crumbs and a few slices from which pieces fall off. Don't freak out. If you slice while the logs are hot (pardon the expression) and do not hesitate as you cut, most of the slices will be just fine.
This version of biscotti is not an adaptation of any single recipe, but it was inspired by two - a Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti from Leite's Culinaria and a Pistachio-golden Raisin Biscotti from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Baker's Dozen Cookbook.