Like peanut butter and Fluff, espresso and chocolate were destined to be together. To create a full-bodied coffee flavor, I use espresso powder, coffee extract and a Kahlua icing. Espresso powder, made from used espresso grounds that are dried and crushed into a fine powder, is ideal for baking. It's available at Italian specialty markets and many supermarkets. If you can't find it, buy espresso beans and grind them as finely as possible — you don't want large, granular pieces in the cookies. If you choose not to ice the biscotti (though you really should), then I suggest adding an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup light brown sugar to the batter for added sweetness.
Susan Russo for NPR
Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Biscotti With Kahlua Icin
Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Biscotti With Kahlua Icin Susan Russo for NPR
Makes about 36 biscotti (3/4-inch-wide cookies)
3 cups unsalted whole almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons espresso powder (or finely ground espresso beans)
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing tops of loaves
2 tablespoons coffee extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or pieces
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur
A few drops of whole milk
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the 350-degree oven at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden and aromatic. Remove and set aside.
In a large bowl, hand mix toasted almonds, sugars, baking powder, flour, cinnamon and espresso powder.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk in coffee extract. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times. Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 4 equal pieces.
On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough, and using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 3/4 of an inch high. If it's sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Place two logs per baking sheet. Brush loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.
Bake for 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing. Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 3/4-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. Each loaf should yield 9 to 11 cookies. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don't let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.
Place slices on their sides back on the baking sheets; place in the still warm oven with the temperature off and the door closed for 30 to 60 minutes. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they will become. Remove from oven and cool completely.
To make the chocolate dip, pour bittersweet chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat (if it's too hot, it will cook the chocolate). As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, remove it from the heat and stir with a spoon until it becomes silky. If you don't have a double boiler, then microwave the chocolate on high for no longer than 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. You don't want it to cook.
Dip the bottom of the biscotti in the chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then place on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. You may use a little less or a little more chocolate, depending on how many biscotti you slice. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before glazing cookies.
To make the Kahlua icing, whisk the confectioners' sugar and Kahlua in a small bowl. Add a few drops of milk, and continue whisking briskly until the icing is smooth and opaque and clings to the back of a spoon. Taste. Add more Kahlua and/or confectioners' sugar, if desired.
Dip a teaspoon into the icing and drizzle the spoon back-and-forth over the biscotti. Allow to dry completely before storing. Store biscotti in an airtight container, preferably a tin, which helps keep them crisp. Place parchment paper or waxed paper between layers of cookies to protect the chocolate and icing. Stored properly, these biscotti will last up to 2 weeks. After that, the chocolate may begin to appear chalky.