A decade ago I was baking biscotti as a small business, a project I continued for several years. I baked other things as well but biscotti were my signature product, offering 12 different flavors. One Christmas season I was approached by a Saratoga restaurant owner looking for a cookie to add to their gift baskets, if I could make one that better fit their southern theme. Using my basic biscotti dough, I left out the nuts and bits that would make it difficult to roll the dough thinly enough. Cut with fluted rounds, the simple crispy biscuits were addictive as potato chips.
This year I made chocolate hearts in three sizes, the big 4” hearts decorated with royal icing and ganache, and tiny ones sandwiched with dense fudge filling. The basic dough can easily be altered for other flavors.
We’ve all heard about the health benefit of chocolate. That doesn’t mean all chocolate is created equal. Most commercial chocolates are highly processed. The more chocolate is processed (through things like fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more the beneficial flavanols are lost.
Doubles and triples well
1.5 c raw or turbinado sugar
1.5 t vanilla
4 T softened butter
5 large eggs at room temperature
12 oz (3 c sifted) AP flour (can be half whole wheat)
3 oz ( about 1 c) Dutch processed cocoa powered
1.5 t baking soda
.25 t salt
4 oz (2/3 c) finely ground* top quality 70% dark chocolate
1t instant espresso or 1T instant coffee
For dusting the board: 1 T cocoa combined with 1/3 c of flour
In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda salt (and optional dry flavorings)
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy; add eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next egg. Add vanilla.
Add flour mixture to butter/egg batter. Mix to combine, do not over mix. Stir in finely ground chocolate until fully incorporated. The dough will ball up on the beaters.
*Finely ground chocolate can be hand chopped but is finer when chopped in a food processor. Take care not to over process, as the chocolate will melt on the blades. Pour the chopped chocolate into a sieve or sifter to shake out the powdery chocolate. You can use some larger bits, but this will mean your cookies will be thicker. Save the rest of the larger chunks for other recipes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Roll the ball of dough a couple times until it is smooth. Divide the ball in 2; place the second ball in a plastic bag to stay moist as you roll the first one.
Dust the board with the cocoa flour mixture. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8”. If it sticks to the board slide a spatula or knife to release it and turn the dough completely over, dust lightly.
Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to a parchment lined or ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; allow cooling on the tray for 1 or 2 minutes before moving to cool on wire racks.
Royal Icing is the bright white icing you’ve seen on many cookies (sometimes tinted with color) that dries to a smooth, hard, matte finish. The icing is a simple mixture of powdered (also called 10x or confectioners) sugar, lemon juice, and raw egg whites. People with concerns about salmonella prefer to use meringue powder. I haven’t tried that yet. But I have had success with pasteurized egg white. The downside to the containers of egg whites is the short shelf life after opening. You will have to make sure you use the rest within a week. And pasteurized egg whites cannot be whipped to meringue.
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
optional: 1- 2 oz melted white chocolate
Beat egg whites in clean, large bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar and lemon juice. Beat at high speed until thickened.
Notes: When working with royal icing be sure to keep the extra covered as it dries out very quickly. I fill a small pastry bag and make sure I have time to finish the whole job at once.
Piping royal icing for these cookies requires a little less liquid in the batch. If you want to spoon on or smooth with a spatula you’ll need a few more drops of lemon or water. Icing can take several hours to dry completely. You cannot stack cookies until they are thoroughly dry.
You can read up on royal icings, http://www.joyofbaking.com/RoyalIcing.html
There are lots of good videos of piping techniques found on youtube.
May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.