Biscotti are traditional centuries-old Italian cookies that are baked twice to make them dry and crispy. The word biscotti is derived from “bis” meaning “twice” in Italian and “cotto” meaning baked or cooked. When making biscotti, the dough is typically shaped into a log and baked. Then the cooked dough is sliced diagonally into cookies and baked a second time to produce a crispy, hard texture. The process of baking twice draws out any moisture, giving the biscotti a long shelf life. Because of their good storage ability, when they were created many centuries ago, they were a common staple for sailors and soldiers who were often away for months at a time.
In Italy, biscotti are traditionally served after dinner with vin santo, a sweet dessert wine, but they are also commonly served with cappuccinos and other coffee drinks. Their long shape makes them ideal for dunking.
I’m so excited about this recipe because I often find it difficult to create desserts that are nutritious and not packed with sugar. Traditional biscotti are a naturally healthy dessert compared to most cookies because they don’t contain any fat in the form of butter or oil. In fact, the moisture comes solely from eggs. Some American versions of biscotti do use butter in the dough to produce a more tender cookie. However, my recipe sticks with tradition, which makes it a much healthier option
My Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti are crispy, lightly sweetened and studded with nutritious ingredients like dark chocolate and almonds. To incorporate whole grains into the recipe, I use a 50:50 mix of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. To learn more about white whole wheat flour and it’s nutritional benefits, click here. To make the dough nice and chocolaty, I add good quality unsweetened cocoa powder along with some instant espresso powder. The addition of espresso powder is something I’ve learned from watching countless episodes of Barefoot Contessa. It doesn’t really add a strong coffee flavor but rather serves to intensify the chocolate. I also like to add a secret ingredient to my biscotti, which is cinnamon (I guess the secret’s out now!). I love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate and it produces the most heavenly smell while it’s baking.
For a touch of sweetness, I use a combination of brown and granulated sugar. But remember, this is not an overly sweet cookie. To add texture, I stir in slivered almonds and chunks of dark chocolate, both of which have some impressive health benefits. Almonds are packed with unsaturated fats and other nutrients that have been shown to have a beneficial effect on heart health. To read more about the health benefits of almonds and other nuts, click here.These delicious biscotti are lightly sweetened and studded with dark chocolate and almonds!Click To Tweet
For a touch of sweetness, I use a combination of brown and granulated sugar. But remember, this is not an overly sweet cookie. To add texture, I stir in slivered almonds and chunks of dark chocolate, both of which have some impressive health benefits. Almonds are packed with unsaturated fats and other nutrients that have been shown to have a beneficial effect on heart health. To read more about the health benefits of almonds and other nuts, click here.
And finally, there’s the dark chocolate. Who would have thought that something so decadent could be good for you? It turns out that chocolate, which is made from the cocoa bean, is filled with a type of plant nutrient called flavonoids. These flavonoids have antioxidant properties that help the body resist damage from normal bodily processes and environmental contaminants. In addition to antioxidant properties, the flavonoids found in chocolate (called flavanols) also have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health such as lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart. These compounds are not unique to chocolate- they’re also found in other food and beverages like cranberries, apples, tea and red wine.
Because pure cocoa has a very naturally strong, bitter taste, chocolate goes through a lot of processing to create the sweet treats that we all love. The more the chocolate is processed, the more flavanols are lost. The good news is that most chocolate manufacturers are now trying to find ways to preserve the number of flavanols in their chocolate. If you have a choice, choose dark chocolate, 70% cacao or higher, over other varieties like milk chocolate or white chocolate, which are loaded with other fats and sugar. The cacao content of chocolate refers to the percentage of components derived from the cocoa bean. The remainder is made up of sugar, flavorings and other ingredients. The higher the percentage cacao, the greater the number of healthy flavanols. When using cocoa powder, go for the natural unsweetened cocoa powder rather than the Dutch processed variety (cocoa powder that’s treated with an alkali to reduce its acidity). And no matter what variety you choose, remember to enjoy chocolate in moderation, about 1 ounce a few times a week.
So go ahead and enjoy one or two of my delicious biscotti. You can satisfy your chocolate craving without any of the guilt. In the words of Ina Garten, “How bad can that be?!”
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- 3 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped (about ½ cup)
- ½ cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the flours, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
Place the eggs, sugars and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix until a stiff dough forms. Add the dark chocolate and almonds and mix until they are incorporated into the dough.
Divide the dough in half and place the balls of dough on a cutting board dusted lightly with flour or cocoa powder. Roll each ball out into a log roughly 9 inches long by 2 inches wide. Place them on a baking sheet lined with a nonstick silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Press down on the top of the logs to flatten them slightly.
Bake 26-30 minutes until firm to touch. As they cook, the logs will spread out slightly.
Remove from the oven and cool them on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then transfer the logs to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut them on a diagonal into ½-inch slices. Arrange the slices upright on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook an additional 15-20 minutes (cook longer for extra crispy biscotti). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving. For an extra chocolaty treat, dip the ends of the biscotti into melted chocolate and let harden before serving.
1 Taubert, D. The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 4, 2007; vol 298: pp 49-60.2 Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled. Cleveland Clinic website: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/chocolate.aspx