This cookie is to celebrate the beginning of my life as a dual Italian American citizen. Read more about my path to dual Italian-American citizenship here.
I’d never baked with chestnut flour before but I wanted to try something authentically Italian to mark this special occasion. This biscotti–one of my favorite kinds of cookie–has a rich earthiness from the chestnut flour and rum. It’s just sweet enough and the chocolate coating makes this worthy of dipping in the fanciest of coffees. Chestnut flour does not have gluten, so I added AP Flour to the recipe. You can add a gluten free flour that has more protein–like soy flour to keep it wheat free. I’ve added almonds here for their warmth but you could add raisins or currants if you like.
1 cup AP flour
1 heaping cup chestnut flour, sifted
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced and blanched almonds, toasted
1 egg white
3-5 ounces semi sweet chocolate
To make the cookies…
1) Make sure that you have toasted the almonds and sifted the chestnut flour before you begin. Why are these two steps important? First, the almonds taste richer and have a crunchier bite when toasted. Second, chestnut flour is coarser than AP flour and therefore tends to form clumps of flour that you don’t want to be mixed into the batter. Here, you should measure out a heaping cup and then sift.
2) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You may need two baking sheets depending on the size of your pan but we’ll get to that later.
3) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
4) In a medium size bowl, mix together AP flour, chestnut flour, nutmeg, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Either with your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, cream together butter and remaining ½ cup of sugar until light and fluffy-about 3 minutes.
5) In a small bowl, crack two eggs and add 1 tablespoon rum and vanilla extract. Mix together slightly, just to break the yolks. Once the butter and sugar mixture is creamed, add half of the egg mixture, mixing until incorporated. Add the remaining half and mix until incorporated.
6) Reduce the speed to low on your mixer, and add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, one third at a time. Don’t overmix but make sure all the flour has been combined. Then, add the almonds, mixing until just incorporated—you may want to just mix these in with a spoon rather than use the mixer here.
7) In the next step, you are going to shape the biscotti into logs. This requires some focus because the dough is very sticky. I recommend generously flouring your work surface and your hands—keep a bowl with flour in it on the counter and dip your hands in flour as often as necessary. Dump the dough mixture out of the bowl and onto your work surface. Divide into two balls. Taking the first ball, shape it into 13” x 2” log. Transfer the log to the baking sheet using a spatula or bench scraper to pull it up from the counter. If it gets a little misshapen during the transfer, you can always fix it on the sheet pan. Going back to step 2, 13” maybe too long for some baking sheets. The biscotti should have 2 inches at each end and 3 inches in between the logs to expand. So take a look at your baking sheet and if necessary, line a second sheet with parchment and make the biscotti into shorter longs—keeping the 2 inch width. Now, follow the instructions for the second ball of dough that is yet to be shaped.
8) In a small bowl, combine the egg white with the remaining tablespoon of rum and brush on the top and sides of the logs.
9) Bake the logs for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden brown and the logs are just beginning to crack on top. Remove the logs from the oven and let cool on the pan resting on top of a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
10) Transfer the logs, one a time to a cutting board. With a chef’s knife or a serrated knife, cut diagonally into ½ inch thick slices. If you want to replace the parchment paper here you can, but I just take the parchment and brush it off over the sink, flip it over, place it back on the sheet. I’ve been known to use the same piece of parchment paper until it starts to look light golden. Place the slices cut side down back on the cookie sheet. At this point, the biscotti has expanded as much as its going to, so its ok to leave very little space in between the slices. Just make sure they are not touching each other.
11) Bake the slices for 8 minutes and pull cookie sheets from oven. With tongs, flip each biscotti over so the cut side is down facing up and bake for another 8 minutes. Once the slices are light golden brown, remove them from the oven and let them cool for at least 45 minutes on a cooling rack.
12) Now you are going to dip the biscotti in chocolate. I recommend tasting one once they are cool to see how much chocolate you would like to add based on how sweet the cookie is according to your palate. Also, if you’ve added dried fruit, you might decide to forego the chocolate altogether. I think the chocolate really rounds out the earthiness of the chestnut flour. So let’s melt the chocolate now. If you are using a chocolate baking bar, then just coarsely chop the chocolate. If you’re using morsels, no need to chop. Toss 3-5 ounces of the chocolate into a small microwaveable container and heat for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Continue this pattern for 10 second intervals until chocolate is melted. It should not take much longer than one minute—depending on the age and quality of the chocolate. If you prefer milk chocolate, that would be fine too. Dip each piece of biscotti into your chocolate, bottom side down and scrape excess with a butter knife or small offset spatula. Place back on the cooling rack cut side down and let chocolate set—about 2 hours—before enjoying.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Store in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper. These will keep for about a week.
Recipe modified from “Pistachio and Dried Cherry Biscotti” from America’s Test Kitchen Christmas Cookies 2013.