For the longest time, I *naively* assumed I didn’t like the flavor “Mexican Chocolate.”. Something about spicy red pepper mixed with sweet chocolate just didn’t do it for me. Perhaps the thought of chocolate making me sweat is what turned me off? Unknown. All I do know is that even as a lover of both spicy foods and chocolate, I felt strongly that these two flavors should remain in separate spheres.
Everything changed when I visited my family for Thanksgiving a couple years ago. Hankering for a coffee and something sweet, my mom, sister and I visited Chattanooga’s AMAZING Hot Chocolatier specialty chocolate shop. My eyes immediately fell to the two giant jars of biscotti, as I was still reeling from the previous day’s massive Thanksgiving feast and wasn’t in the mood for anything super rich. This mildly sweet, super crunchy cookie would be the perfect treat to satisfy my sweet tooth and recovering stomach.
Jar #1 contained some sort of plain, unmemorable flavor like vanilla or pistachio. While I’m sure it was delicious, I found it boring in comparison to the gorgeous chocolate biscotti I saw in jar #2. Uniform in shape, each golden biscotti was studded with giant chunks of dark chocolate drizzled with more creamy chocolate. Mouth watering, I quickly reached towards the jar as I suddenly read the horrifying words “Hottie Biscotti” AKA the spicy chocolate combo I had so long avoided.
Faced with a nearly impossible decision, I did what any red-blooded woman would do: went for the chocolate. And WOW did this risk have a sweet reward. The cool, creamy chocolate perfectly balanced the cayenne’s bright heat and the cinnamon’s subtle warmth . The biscotti’s hard texture helped offset the firey feeling the cayenne left in your mouth and throat. Each bite was a total sensory experience. I was in love with Hottie Biscotti.
Since I live 7+ hours away from Chattanooga, I decided to make my own version of this Italian cookie. People often assume that homemade biscotti is exceedingly difficult and therefore one of those foods you should always just buy pre-made. I am here to burst that assumption. While the baking process is a bit different than other cookies, it is not difficult. Biscotti is double baked, which is where this cookie actually gets its Italian name. “Bis” means “twice” and “cotto” means “baked.”1 Essentially, you bake the biscotti in one loaf, cut it into slivers, and then bake a second time to get each piece nice and crispy. Does that sound so hard?
Based on your spiciness preference, feel free to increase or decrease the amount of cayenne. Be careful that you don’t increase it too much, or you may end up with a totally inedible cookie!
Biscotti is the perfect morning treat or afternoon snack to enjoy with a warm cup of coffee. I love how long it takes to eat this super crunchy cookie, as it allows you to really savor it unlike other cookies which I quickly gobble down.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups dark chocolate chunks (chips work too)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and baking powder.
- In a larger bowl, add the oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Using a whisk or electric beater, mix until smooth and creamy.
- Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
- Mix in the chocolate chunks.
- Divide dough in half, and shape it into two equal logs approximately 9½" long x 2" wide x ¾" tall. Smooth the tops and sides of the logs. biscotti
- Bake for 23-25 minutes, until light golden brown.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Let logs rest for about 5 minutes.
- Using a serrated bread knife, cut the log diagonally into ½" to ¾" slices. Make sure you cut straight down so your biscotti is not thicker or thinner on the bottom.
- Place the biscotti on the baking sheet with one side up. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and then remove from oven and flip biscotti over. Return to oven and bake another 10-12 minutes, until dry and golden. (Center of biscotti may be a little soft in the center, but will continue to dry out as they cool.)
- Place transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they'll stay good for weeks.
- Yield: 30 to 40 biscotti, depending on size.