A cousin of mine got married over the weekend and as is customary for most weddings in the Pittsburgh area, they had a large cookie table filled with goodies made by family and friends. If you’re from another area of the country, or from another country altogether, is this a tradition where you live? I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding in this area and there not been a large display of cookies made by family and friends of the bride and groom. It seems to transcend ethnicity, age, and just about every other factor you can think of. I personally think it’s great – along with the traditional wedding cake, guests can grab a cup of coffee and a plate of cookies to have with dessert. Most couples also provide take-out boxes at the table so when you leave the wedding, you can take some cookies home with you. It’s a great option for people who don’t like cake, and you get to sample some of the recipes that have been in the bride’s and groom’s families for years.
I was asked if I could make a couple different variations of biscotti to be included in the cookie table, and I was happy to oblige. I asked the bride if she wanted anything in particular and she asked for almond biscotti with cranberries and white chocolate (which I have made before and which you will see here on the site soon) and a chocolate biscotti with some type of nuts. I thought that pistachio would be an unexpected and delicious accompaniment to the chocolate; after all, they went together wonderfully in the spumoni I made over the summer. So I ran with that flavor combination.
To make these biscotti, I adapted a recipe that I found in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It’s an interesting recipe because there is absolutely no fat included in the recipe (save for the cocoa and chocolate). I actually re-read it about four times before I started baking because I figured I just HAD to be missing the butter. But alas, no butter, no oil. I was curious if the cookies would turn out with the same consistency as traditional biscotti, and they absolutely did. The chocolate flavor in the biscotti is deep, rich and smooth and the salty pistachios provide the perfect balance. It’s an amazing combination and one I will be sure to make again and again.
2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (about 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chunks
1½ cups (about 8 ounces) pistachios, shelled
4 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1½ cups granulated sugar
Sanding sugar (or granulated sugar), for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a food processor, pulse the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, 1 cup chocolate chunks, and pistachios until chips and pistachios are the size of peas.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the whole eggs and granulated sugar until the mixture holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface for a few seconds when you raise the whisk. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and remaining 1 cup chocolate chunks, and beat until just combined.
3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into an 18-inch log. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. With the palm of your hand, gently press the logs to flatten slightly. Brush egg white over logs. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using.
4. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until logs are just firm to the touch, 20 to 24 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 20 minutes.
5. Place logs on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut ¾-inch-thick slices on the diagonal. Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on the rack. Bake until biscotti are firm to the touch and completely dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let biscotti cool completely on the rack. Biscotti can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.