I read an alarming factoid the other day – that we are all going to pack on 5 pounds during the lockdown. We certainly aren’t going out to eat, but we are cooking like crazy. And cooking leads to eating.
We are desperate to keep busy and amused. We might not be learning any new languages in this house, but we are slowly checking off the no-longer-avoidable items on our To Do list. One thing leads to another, and then everything snowballs. We have painted the railings on the back porch. Which led to the observation that the gutters were dirty. Then we weeded and mulched a couple of flower beds, and I found the reading glasses I lost last year. Then we planted the annual crop of tomatoes and basil. Inside we have done a deep cleaning of windows and baseboards, and changed beds into their summer linens. Every inch of the master bathroom has been scoured. And we never realized how much Luke the wonder dog sheds.
While organizing the pantry I unearthed a large, unopened (yet not expired) tin of cocoa powder. Hmmm. What could I do with a large tin of cocoa? Mr. Friday likes chocolate quite a lot, so it is a mystery why we hadn’t consumed this pricey container. I had to find a way to use it. Turning to Google, I found lists. And more lists. Did I want to make a face masque? I think not. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/5-chocolate-face-masks-with-detailed-steps-and-pictures/
A cup of cocoa? A little obvious, but it is also 75 degrees outside. Or I could sprinkle it over fruit. That will take a minute and a half, tops. I needed an afternoon-long project – I don’t feel like cleaning another bathroom yet. How about brownies? Well, then I have to justify the box of Ghiradelli brownie mix already in the pantry. Here is a list of other delightful cocoa powder possibilities: https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/cocoa-powder-recipes/
I decided on chocolate biscotti, for the novelty and because I did have all the ingredients (for once) lined up in our temporarily tidy pantry. Chocolate biscotti will fill the sad, lonely void in our crazy socially-distanced world. And the espresso needed for dipping will keep me active for hours.
I followed a New York Times recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012516-union-square-cafes-chocolate-biscotti?
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¾ cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon double-strength brewed espresso
3 large eggs
7 ½ ounces (1 rounded cup) small milk chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; set aside.
Cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter for 3 to 5 minutes at medium speed. Add vanilla extract and espresso. Mix for 10 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 10 seconds at medium-low speed after each addition. Add sifted flour mixture and mix at low speed until dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chocolate chips and mix just until chips are evenly incorporated, 15 to 20 seconds.
Transfer dough to a work surface and divide in two, shaping into balls. Form each ball into a log 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Brush tops of logs with egg wash and sprinkle each log with 1 tablespoon raw sugar. Bake until biscotti have spread, have a few cracks and bounce back slightly when pressed with fingertips, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices. Place each slice with a cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Bake until firm, crisp and slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.
These are Puritan, bare-bone, simple biscotti. You can follow Dorie Greenspan’s example and dip them in melted chocolate and lightly dust with Maldon salt. https://www.abeautifulplate.com/double-chocolate-biscotti-sea-salt/
David Lebovitz adds almonds to his biscotti. https://www.davidlebovitz.com/chocolate-biscotti/
And next on the Lockdown List is David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Idiot Cake – I have to use up the rest of that tin of cocoa power, after all. https://www.davidlebovitz.com/shf-27-chocolat-1/
Upcoming is painting the front porch, and mulching the corner of the back yard now that I have torn out all of the neighbor’s invasive ivy. I’m still bingeing on Grey’s Anatomy – only 14 more seasons to go! Thank goodness we have plenty of biscotti to get us through this emergency. Take care of yourself, and wear your mask!
“Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you’ll have a marvelous time!”
― Julia Child