Where have you been all my life? I spotted you, pasty, fragrant, and oh-so-affordable, at the market down the street, next to the random assortment of bulk nuts and dusty peanut cans, and I knew I had to have you.
I wasn’t even there for baking supplies — I think I was holding a container of lettuce, something for dinner last Saturday. But you were irresistible. One more ingredient won’t hurt, right? And so, the search for something — anything — that would do you justice began.
Why biscotti? Well, I had some excellent biscotti for the first time not too long ago, and I was looking for something simple and easy to serve to dinner guests, something that would go with pizza and wine. After rummaging through the cupboards in search of something that would go with cocoa nibs (my new obsession), I spotted you, in your rather misshapen, golden state, perched cheerily next to a package of dried cherries. Funny how my lack of organizational skills pays off sometimes.
These biscotti are not for the marzipan-shy, but I think that’s my favorite thing about them. Cherries and almonds are somehow born for each other, and the special heady scent of bitter almonds seems to be particularly suitable for this pairing. The cocoa nibs lend a chocolaty richness to the aftertaste, without interrupting the initial flavor too much. All in all, I’m pretty proud of these, so all I can say is I hope you enjoy them!
Cherry chocolate marzipan biscotti
Makes maybe 24 properly-sized biscotti? I made giants, of course. How could I resist?
This recipe is based on the biscotti recipe in Essentials of Baking, from Williams-Sonoma, which my brother got us for Christmas. I only thought to look in here after Rachael made me this amazing version. In fact, I wouldn’t have even thought to make biscotti myself if it weren’t for her; I had always thought of it as a kind of dull accompaniment to coffee, sold in coffee shops only because they were cardboard-like and seemingly indestructible. Not anymore … This recipe is going to become one of my specialties. I particularly like this version, because it’s surprising and intense — perfect with a glass of Chilean cab after dinner.
- 2 c. (10 oz.) all-purpose flour.
- 1-1/2 t. baking powder.
- 1/2 t. salt.
- 2 large eggs.
- 3/4 c. sugar. Reduce this if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
- 1/2 c. (4 oz. / 1 stick) butter, melted.
- 2 t. vanilla extract.
- 3 oz. (lemon-sized chunk) marzipan.
- 3/4 c. dried cherries.
- 1/2 c. cocoa nibs. If you don’t have cocoa nibs, you can use chocolate chips. But you should definitely reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe if this is the case. Cocoa nibs are unsweetened, amazing, cacao beans, and are definitely worth seeking out.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy (yes, it’ll take a little while), then add the eggs and vanilla. Beat some more — you’re going to need the workout after you inhale half the cookies in one sitting — and then crumble the marzipan into the wet mix. Stir a bit more, so you don’t have any really large chunks of marzipan left, and then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Continue folding until the mix becomes uniform, and then add the cherries and cocoa nibs. Stir until the cherries and cocoa nibs have evenly distributed themselves throughout the batter.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the dough into two flat, oval logs, and place them on the parchment ~3 inches apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes; the logs should be crispy and golden on the outside, with a soft center (kind of like picture #4 above, though I under-baked mine, which made for some precarious slicing).
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, and turn the oven down to 300°F. Transfer to a cutting board and slice each log across its width into 3/4″ segments. Lay the segments on the parchment paper, on one side. Place in the oven again, for 17-22 minutes, until the cookies are crisp, brown, and firm to touch. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool before eating.
These will last for 2 weeks, if you have more willpower than I do.