"Ouch, seriously, stop stepping on my toes. They're burned to a crisp!" said one biscotti to another.
"I feel your pain," answered the second. "I told her it was time to get out of the heat, but she wasn't having it."
OK, I feel the need to interject here with my side of the story.
It all boils down to one simple idea: multitasking. I am a big fan. Why do just one thing at a time when you could do many things at once?
Take watching TV for example. Somewhat entertaining on its own, but there's not a whole lot getting done while you sit on the couch. Let's add in a little Sudoku action during the less exciting TV moments, the ones that don't demand your full attention. See, better. Now, when the commercials come on, jump from your seat, jog to the kitchen and begin the dinner dishes. A good husband will give a shout from the couch when the TV show is about to re-start, and you'll soon develop a spidey sense for it anyways. (Note: This dishwashing component is not an option in France where all of the commercials are grouped together in a block between shows.)
But it wasn't watching TV/solving Sudoku/washing dishes that got me into trouble today. No, today's multitasking challenge involved baking biscotti in between a few loads of laundry. Having been successful at this particular combo in the past, I was not concerned.
Despite my highest hopes, the washing machine in our apartment is just that. When I asked our landlord if it was one of those dual-purpose machines that both washes and dries your clothes, he informed us in what I think was English, "No, but it centrifugates very quickly."
Riiiiight, so what does that mean? That the clothes are as good as dry?
Fortunately there is a laverie 4 doors down the street with 3 honest-to-goodness dryers, circa 1970. Initially, the laundry Nazi who oversees the comings and goings of the building was very concerned as to why we were bringing in wet clothes from outside and demanded details about our washing process. I explained that we washed the clothes in our washing machine at home, which centrifugates very quickly, and that seemed to satisfy her curiosity. Now that we've jumped through the proper hoops and established our credentials, we can actually pay to dry our clothes there. Rad.
Here's where I cut to the chase. Things all went down as expected right up until the end. While I set out down the street to retrieve and fold the last load of laundry, my biscotti were back at the ranch sunbathing their sides after a rather long-ish bake on their stomachs earlier in the morning. Just evening out their tans, really, before calling it a day. (Remember, I have a toaster oven rather than a real oven, so it clicks off when the timer finishes. No worries about burning down the building and all that.)
I failed, however, to account for the fact that everything bakes in approximately one-half the normal time in the little toaster oven. As I crossed the courtyard and neared our door, and the open kitchen window beside it, I was greeted by the scent of burning chocolate. Dropping the bag of laundry on the stoop, I fumbled for the keys and threw open the door to the terrified screams of my Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti.
That’s the real story. I’m in the process of nibbling my way through any detractors.
P.S. Did I mention that one load of washing takes 1 hour and 15 minutes? See, lots of time to make biscotti.
Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti
1 cup flour
¼ cup cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ heaping teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat well.
Stir in the dry ingredients to form a stiff dough. Once blended, fold in the nuts and chocolate chunks.
With floured hands, form the dough into a 12-inch by 2-inch log. Flatten the log slightly on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet. Leave your oven on for the second round of baking.
Using a very sharp, serrated knife, carefully cut the log on the diagonal into ¾-inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp, flipping once halfway through.
Remove from the oven and cool on racks. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Notes: The recipe posted here could easily be doubled. Instead of forming the dough into 1 long log, form 2 of equal size.
Source: Based on a recipe for Chocolate Biscotti posted at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Her version was adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.