“Let’s bake!” I tell my little sister and she runs right up, beaming.
It’s not often that I invite her to work with me; I prefer to bake in solitude, keeping the messes small and the techniques flawless. But today, I want to spend time with her. I will not care about any spilled milk, or any lumps in the batter. It will be about connection, and maybe about teaching her a few things, too.
“What are we making?” she asks. It must be with chocolate, this I know. Her taste-buds are still simple, and she will frown at exotic fruits and spices, despite my many repeated attempts at broadening her horizons. We’ll make…
“We’re going to make chocolate biscotti!” I say brightly, pulling up a chair for her as I assemble the ingredients.
“Yayy!” she says, clapping for emphasis. “But what’s biscotti?”
“Biscotti is an Italian cookie. It’s baked twice and it becomes really crunchy, so you can dip it into milk and coffee! This one has 3 types of chocolate in it!” With her approval received, we begin.
First I melt the chocolate. This I do alone, warning her to stay away from the heat. I let her dip her pinky in to try the melted chocolate once it’s cooled, and she smacks her lips.
“Can I do something now, Chaya? Pleaseee?” she asks. So I measure out sugar and olive oil, and she carefully pours the ingredients in. Then I hand her a spatula. “Here. Mix.”
She mixes, grunting as the batter becomes heavier. I show her how to fold in the sides, how to make sure that everything is nicely incorporated. She mixes some more.
Now we are ready for the eggs. I crack them neatly into a bowl and hand her a whisk. “This is a whisk, sweetie. And you use it to whip things together, like this-” I pause to demonstrate effective whisking, breaking up the eggs. She catches on right away, and whisks as fast as her little hands can move, leaving a few eggy ribbons in the batter. I discreetly whisk it together when she turns away.
“What’s next, Chaya? Oh oh, can I do the vanilla and the cocoa?” Together, we mix in the next few ingredients. It’s slow going, but I appreciate every minute of it. When we’re done, the batter looks thick and luscious.
“This looks so decadent!” I say, kissing her hair.
“What’s that?” she asks as she squirms away.
“Decadent means…hmm…rich. Delicious. Luxurious.”
“Oh.” She wrinkles her nose. “I don’t like that.”
“You do!” I say. “Look, let’s taste-” I stick a finger in the batter and bring it to my mouth. Then I choke on a cloud of unmixed cocoa powder. I make a face and she laughs uproariously.
“Okaayy,” I say, taking a drink of water. “This needs more mixing!” We mix again, and then we both taste. It’s chocolate-y, sweet and sticky. Her face breaks into a grin. We add in the chocolate chips and salt (“It helps define the sweetness,” I tell her) and finally, into the oven the biscotti loaves goes, her small fingers helping me shape them.
When the biscotti are ready, we take them out, cut them, and sugar the tops. Then they bake for another few minutes. And then they’re finally ready!
We break into them slowly, savoring the taste of our hard work. They’re definitely decadent, and have just the right texture, with crackly, brownie-like tops. They will be perfect for Passover mornings with some tea and coffee.
I’m proud of our work and she is, too. “Let’s do this again,” I tell her. She nods happily. The mess doesn’t matter to her, or to me. We’re satisfied, and that’s all that matters.
Have a great Passover! Wishing you a wonderful time spent with family and good food and traditions. Check back here for more recipes for the 2nd days of Passover! (Other things we’re baking: everyday chocolate cake (with almond flour instead of buckwheat) classic chocolate mousse, english toffee, salame el cioccolato).
Yield: around 25 biscotti (this recipe can be easily doubled)
Adapted from The New Passover Menu
Why I love this recipe: these are easy, gluten-free and wonderfully chocolate-y, thanks to cocoa, melted chocolate and dark chocolate chips. Almond flour lends a nice, nutty flavor and texture and the olive oil makes these slightly moist on the inside. These are like a brownie in biscotti form, perfect for dipping into a hot drink. *If you have no potato starch handy, you can try substituting corn, tapioca or arrowroot starch. It shouldn’t affect the taste (although I haven’t tried it myself).
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup extra light olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tablespoon potato starch, see above note
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground almond flour
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- extra sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Melt the chopped chocolate using a double boiler. Remove chocolate from the heat, add the sugar and olive oil, and mix well.
- Add the eggs and whisk in. Add the vanilla extract, cocoa, potato starch, ground almonds, sea salt and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix to distribute them.
- Divide the dough in half (it will be wet and sticky!) and shape into two loaves, about 9 x 3 inches. Wet your hands to ensure neat shaping.
- Place both loaves on the lined cookie sheet and sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, keeping the oven on in the meantime.
- Cut each loaf crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies, cut side up, on a parchment-covered cookie sheet and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch on the outside but still feel soft on the inside. Check them after 10 minutes to make sure they aren’t over-baked.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan and then slide the parchment and cookies onto a cooling rack to cool completely.