You know, Starbucks really does have some good ideas.
And I'm not above stealing them.
Not that I visit the World's Favorite Bistro often; there's not a Starbucks within 100 miles of me.
But when I travel, I find myself slipping into the first Starbucks I see – you know, just to check things out.
Also, since I recently learned a cup of plain coffee at Starbucks is cheaper than a cup at Dunkin' Donuts – 'tis true! – I'll treat myself to some Starbucks buzz: both literally, and figuratively.
While in Boston recently, I cut through a hotel lobby and spied the familiar Starbucks logo. Ducking in and sidling up to the counter - “No thanks, just looking” - I peered into the bakery case, and experienced one of those light-bulb moments we all, as creative bakers, learn to treasure:
WOW. Why didn't I think of that?
A two-tone biscotti! Chocolate and vanilla biscotti doughs, stacked and baked. Icing on the bottom, icing on top. Brilliant.
As self-respecting bakers, what's our next thought here?
I can do that!
And I did. Read on...
If you've read this blog before, you probably know that Vanilla Bean Crush is my favorite vanilla. it's super-aromatic; it includes vanilla bean seeds, and finely shredded pods, for an interesting “look.”
What's more, for every bottle of Vanilla Crush sold (year-round – not just during October), Sonoma Syrups donates 10% of the retail price to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. And if you're a breast cancer survivor like me, that means something.
Mini chocolate chips are perfect for this recipe, as they don't get in the way when you're slicing the biscotti. On the left, standard-sized chips; minis on the right.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the following in a mixing bowl:
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat till well combined. Add 2 large eggs.
Beat to combine. It'll look messy at first, but keep beating.
Pretty soon it'll look like this.
Add 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, beating gently till smooth.
Measure out half the dough. If you have a scale, half the dough is about 10 1/4 ounces (290g). Volume-wise, half the dough is a generous 1 cup.
Straighten the log, and smooth its top and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper (or wet fingers) works well here.
Yup, 14” - perfect! But don't worry; if your log is only 13 1/2”, the Biscotti Police won't be making any arrests.
Place the pan in the freezer while you make the chocolate dough.
To prepare the chocolate dough, add to the vanilla dough in the bowl 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, Dutch-process preferred; and 1/2 cup chocolate chips, mini chips preferred. Stir to combine.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder - chocolate's best friend. You can also simply mix the cocoa powder, chips, and espresso powder into the dough all at once. I just wanted to highlight the espresso here, because I use it in ALL my chocolate recipes - just like vanilla, it heightens chocolate's flavor, without adding any coffee taste of its own.
Remove the pan from the freezer. Using your wet fingers, spread the chocolate dough atop the vanilla dough.
Smooth it with your wet fingers or a wet bowl scraper till it lies nicely on top of the vanilla dough. Look at those vanilla bean seeds in the dough, by the way – NICE.
You can choose to leave the chocolate dough atop the vanilla...
...or press it down the sides to entirely enclose the vanilla dough, if desired.
You can also choose to top the log with 2 tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar at this point, if you don't plan on adding a vanilla glaze later.
Place the biscotti in a preheated 350°F oven. Notice I've left the chocolate dough on top on the left; and completely enclosed the vanilla dough, on the right. We often do this kind of “half one way, half another” test in the kitchen; saves time and ingredients, compared to making the entire recipe twice.
Bake the dough for 25 minutes.
Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes; just work it into the schedule of whatever else you're doing in the kitchen.
Here's what the “unenclosed” version looks like, post-baking.
While the biscotti are cooling slightly, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
And here's what the sugar-topped version looks like.
If you've used parchment on your baking sheet, use it to lift the biscotti off the sheet onto a flat surface. If you haven't used parchment, carefully lift the biscotti off the sheet onto a flat surface. Using a serrated knife or sharp chef's knife, cut the biscotti crosswise into 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal — for fewer, longer biscotti.
As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.
If the biscotti seem to be crumbling a lot as you slice, spritz them lightly with cool water, wait 5 minutes, and try again.
Here's the log cut crosswise. For longer biscotti, cut on the diagonal.
And here's a shot of bottom dough completely enclosed (l) vs. unenclosed (r). Your choice; it's strictly a looks thing.
Set the biscotti, on edge, back on the baking sheet quite close together; they should all fit easily on one sheet.
Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 30 to 40 minutes, till they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden around the edges. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.
And there you have it – Black and White Biscotti.
Want to gild the lily? Mix 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar with 1 tablespoon water. Artfully drizzle atop the biscotti.
It's OK to let the glaze dribble over the edges. Consider it rustic. Consider it artful. Just don't consider it a mistake!
A lovely lineup, eh?
And here's what your “plain” sugar-topped biscotti look like. Crunchy, glittery, yummy. Enjoy!