Spicy Cherry Truffle Biscotti

11 12 2009

Tweet Me from truthorcake

So, I’ve been sick for going on four weeks, which has severely limited my ability to smell, taste, and therefore cook anything remotely tasty.

My solution for the palatially-challenged: chiles.

Inspired by Chocolove’s Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate Bar, these biscotti deliver a captivating mix of sweet, tart fruit, gentle heat and velvety cocoa that morphs playfully during each bite.  Do not be afraid—think Mexican hot  chocolate meets cherry cordial.  It’s just lovely.

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Spicy Cherry Truffle Biscotti

1/2c butter, softened
1c sugar
3 eggs
1t vanilla extract
2 1/2c flour
1t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/2c cocoa powder (Valrhona is my favorite for maximum chocolate intensity.)
1T light ancho powder
1c dried tart cherries, halved
1/2c bittersweet chocolate chunks (Chips will work too, but your favorite bar of baking chocolate given a couple of good whacks with a mallet or wine bottle will prove richer, and more elegant.)
1t cayenne pepper

Assembly is classic-cookie-method-style. Cream the butter and sugar together and blend in the eggs and vanilla. Mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa and ancho) and beat into the wet base in batches of about a cup at a time. Toss the cherries and chocolate with the cayenne and mix these in with a spatula or, if you’re feeling frisky, your hands. The dough should be pretty dense, so this takes a little muscle.

Halve the dough.  Form each half into a ten inch log and lightly flatten as you place them  on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.  For an extra zippy batch, you could sprinkle the tops with chile-sugar at this point!

Bake the logs at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the top has cracked and the cookie feels fairly stiff.  As soon as you take them out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack to rest for at least an hour.  They need to be completely cool to the touch.

Using a serrated knife, slice the logs at a slight angle to create individual biscotti. Put them—cut side down—back on the lined baking sheet and cook them again (hence, BIS-cotti) for 10-15 minutes on each side at 250 degrees.  Any hotter and the cherries might burn.  This is not so tasty.

They won’t feel completely hard when they come out, but should be dry and firm.  They’ll taste more like regular cookies if you just have to munch on one right away, but after sitting out overnight, they’ll cure into perfectly crunchy treats.

Mix it up and try different fruit/fire combinations: mango with chipotle, blueberries with pasilla or even just cracked black pepper.  Or go more savory with peanuts and pepitas for a mole-style flavor.

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