When I set out to make this biscotti, my intentions were very clear. The morning was dreary and cold, the outlook for the afternoon even drearier and colder. In the interest of providing myself with something to cut through the depressing gray day ahead of me, I was aiming to whip up bit of a treat that I could enjoy with a soothing cup of afternoon coffee.
It seemed like such an innocent endeavor, and it was, really, until I opened up a cupboard to rifle around for a bit of inspiration concerning what I could fold into the biscotti dough and, oh, hello, dried Montmorency cherries. And who is that sitting right next to you? A bottle of Kentucky bourbon, I see. We may be onto something here. A bit more shuffling of things in said cupboard also unearthed the last bits of a bar of bittersweet chocolate, a natural pairing, I thought, for the tartness of the cherries. A bit of chopping, and we’re almost there.
And where was there? Well, surprisingly, it ended up being a place where crisp, satisfying biscotti, ripe with bourbon-plumped cherries and streaks of dark chocolate, tastes a lot like the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever eaten. While still firmly planted in the crunchy family of biscotti, this little number has the brown sugar notes of a cookie, but with a hint more sophistication on account of the chunky pecans and varying hits of tartness, sweetness, and, of course, smooth bourbon. It may not have been the exact treat I thought I’d end up making, but it served its purpose more than sufficiently. Dipped into a cup of hot black coffee, it was a warm and cozy highlight to what can only be called a cold and punishing day (ah, springtime in Portland).
Pecan and Chocolate Biscotti with Bourbon-Soaked Cherries
3 tablespoons bourbon
½ cup dried sour cherries (you may have to hunt around to find dried sour cherries instead of dried regular cherries, but the difference between the two is so totally worth the hunt)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (½ a stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped, lightly toasted pecans
½ cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
In a small bowl, combine the bourbon and the dried sour cherries. Allow to soak at room temperature for at least 1 hour (if you have the inclination, soaking them overnight would provide the most forward bourbon flavor), tossing occasionally to keep all the cherries in touch with the bourbon.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat the sifted dry ingredients into the butter mixture until everything is just combined. Stir in the pecans, chocolate, and dried cherries, along with any bourbon leftover in the bowl. Stir until everything is incorporated.
Directly on the prepared baking sheet, divide the dough into 2 logs roughly 3 ½ inches wide and 8 inches long. Pat the logs into a uniform thickness of about ¾ inch. The dough will be sticky, so lightly greasing or flouring your hands might help your shaping endeavors.
Bake the logs in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until the centers are firm and the tops are golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and remove the logs to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. With a serrated knife, slice the slightly-cooled logs on the diagonal into ½-inch thick slices. Return the slices, cut side down, to the baking sheet, then bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the slices are extremely crisp and nicely browned.
Remove biscotti slices to a wire rack to cool completely. Biscotti can be kept in an airtight container for several days.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|