Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gingerbread & Chocolate Layer Biscotti

Two-for-one deals are such great gimmicks. Sell me two flavours in one and I'm had! It takes the work out of decision making and saves me some anxiety. Food decisions are my nemesis! You know that person who's like, "Can I have a single scoop, but can you do half and half?" That is so me and the answer is "No", typically accompanied by the stink eye or an eye roll. Forgive me.

Then there's always that question "what is the last thing you would eat before you die?" Well I'd probably die before I could come around to deciding so I would just die hungry.

Today I couldn't decide if I wanted gingerbread or biscotti. Solution: make both at the same time, and make it with chocolate too. Can I do the same thing with my dirty dishes? Can I use them and clean them all in the same effort? Somebody figure that out for me...

This season is best characterized by hot drinks. Hot cocoa, hot toddies, spiked hot coffee, Chai tea, mulled wine, hot apple cider... Coffee never tastes better to me than it does when there's frost on the windows and a snowy dust on the trees. Annnnd, it's a perfectly appropriate excuse to enjoy a few biscotti.  I believe it is a sin to let any coffee go unaccompanied by a cookie or two in December.

This recipe is special in that it the cookie dough is pressed and baked in a brownie pan instead of being free-formed on a cookie tray. You can easily free form the dough if you want, but I find that having a mold makes it easier to distribute the two layers of dough more easily. These are giant cafe-style biscotti, so using the pan ensures that every single slice is equally as long and generous.

Back to the two-for-one deal, I assure you this one's not a gimmick! We get two flavours but that doesn't mean twice the work.
First we make a gingerbread dough with cinnamon, ground ginger, clove, nutmeg and molasses. A delicious combination. Divide this in half and that becomes the first layer of your two-layer biscotti. To the second batch, stir in cocoa powder AND melted chocolate. We're going for it! One kind of chocolate is never enough. 

This chocolate batch should be a bit softer once the melted chocolate is blended in and this serves us well as it makes it easier to spread out over the gingerbread layer.

The combination of chocolate with the spices is magic. I think you will dig this.

After the first bake, let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before lifting it out. Once cool enough to handle, start slicing with a long serrated knife. I like mine about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Then you need to pull out a cookie tray and bake them again until crisp.

If you thought about wrapping these up individually and tying them up with a bow then make sure you make a double batch because the people will want!

That's one happy cup of coffee. Kinda hard to be mad when there's a cookie by your side - a good way to keep family dramas at bay during the Christmas celebration... even for snobby cousin Gracie and cranky uncle Joe.

Gingerbread & Chocolate Layer Biscotti

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp molasses
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 oz. dark chocolate, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Place butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, spices, molasses, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Beat in flour until evenly mixed. Divide dough in half, leaving one half in the bowl. Take the other half and spread or press it evenly into your prepared pan.

To the half that was left in the bowl, beat in cocoa powder and melted warm chocolate until evenly incorporated. Scatter portions of this dough over the gingerbread dough in the pan and then press it down evenly. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the cookies from the baking sheet and cut into 3/4 slices. Lower the heat of the oven to 300°F. Place the cookies so they are flat on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are dry and starting to brown ever so slightly. Remove to wire wracks to cool completely (they will continue to crisp up as they cool). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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