plate 2 plate - sour cherry chocolate almond biscotti

Welcome to this year's edition of The 5 days of Christmas. This year's theme is cherries and chocolate and today I'm also bringing you the second Plate to Plate column. A few months ago, Juliana and I decided that we were going to bake and style a Christmas themed recipe for our second Plate 2 plate blog post. Juliana suggested a few things and in the end we chose a Williams Sonoma chocolate cherry almond biscotti recipe. 

Now I've only made biscotti once before and they weren't a great success, so I was keen to try another recipe. One of the key ingredients in this recipe, sour cherries, are a bit hard to find in Sydney but I eventually found them in the local health food store. As it's Christmas, I couldn't help myself and added some chocolate chips to the biscotti mix just to make the cookies a little more festive. Here's my take on the biscotti double baking process. 

Here's Juliana's.

I got myself into a little bit of trouble. I don't know if Australian flour is less absorbent than US flour or if my eggs were a bit larger but the biscotti dough came out very, very sticky. I was covered in biscotti dough; the bench top was covered in biscotti dough and I could barely scrape it out from the bowl. 

I kept adding flour until the dough was a bit more manageable but I was concerned all that extra flour would affect the final result.

Juliana also had problems with the recipe, though her problem was a bit different from mine. Here's her story.

Here's the recipe for you.
1¾ cups plain flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
¾ cup dried sour cherries 
¾ cup toasted blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
3 whole eggs, plus 1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Position racks in the upper third and lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F/170°C. Line 2 baking sheets, preferably insulated sheets, with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda until well mixed. Add the chocolate chips, the cherries and almonds and toss with your hands to distribute them evenly. 

In another bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg white and vanilla extract. Pour into the dry ingredients. Using a fork, mix together the dry and wet ingredients, taking care to work all the bits of dry ingredients into the dough. This will take about 5 minutes. The dough will be dense and sticky. Divide the dough in half.

Place a piece of plastic wrap 18 inches long on the countertop. Transfer half of the dough to the plastic wrap. Lightly moisten your hands with cold water to prevent the dough from sticking to them, then shape the dough into a flattened log 12 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch high. Lifting the plastic wrap and cradling the dough, flip the dough onto the centre of one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough, flipping it onto the second prepared baking sheet. 

Bake the logs until they are dry to the touch and firm in the centre when pressed with your fingers, about 30 minutes. They will spread considerably and may crack slightly on top. Transfer to wire racks and let the logs cool on the pans for 30 minutes. The logs will still be slightly warm to the touch. Leave the oven on.

Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board and set the parchment-lined pans aside. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into slices 1/2 inch wide. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the lined baking sheets, placing them close together but not touching. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, turn the biscotti. Continue to bake until dry and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the biscotti to wire racks to cool completely. Store the biscotti in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).

Here's how Juliana styled her biscotti.

Here's how I styled mine.

The lovely gold garland is from here.

Juliana's look so festive, don't they?

These taste great straight from the oven when the chocolate chips are still all melty but actually taste even better when they're a few days old. I always dunk my biscuits (I can't help myself) and these are perfect for dunking as they're quite sturdy. I've made these biscotti  twice now and the second time I made them in my stand mixer using the dough hook. I increased the flour to 2 cups and was more prudent adding the eggs and had no trouble the second time around.

The cookies all packed ready to distribute to my neighbours for Christmas.

See you all again tomorrow with some more Christmas Baking!


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