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Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

And now it’s on to the crunchy: biscotti. Besides being the ideal accompaniment to coffee and other after-dinner drinks, biscotti are a great cookie to gift, whether it’s next door or across the country. With a name derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked/baked,” biscotti are a dry, hard cookie that will last a week or two in an airtight container (if you don’t consume them with breakfast, lunch and dinner first.)

Baking biscotti at home is no more difficult than any other cookie. The dough, which traditionally contains no butter or fat, can seem dry to work with—don’t worry. You then cook the barely wet dough twice: first as a long, flattened log, and then after cutting it in slices. It’s the second baking that defines the classic crunch. To achieve the look, you simply slice the log diagonally.

Biscotti recipes usually feature nuts, but this time I opted for dark chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Cherry Chocolate Biscotti
Adapted from The All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook

2 1/4 cups pastry flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix in cherries and chocolate, coating in flour mixture. Whisk oil, almond and vanilla extracts and eggs together. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture, stirring until dough is blended. It will be dry and crumbly.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 7 or 8 times. Divide dough in half and shape each half into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls several inches apart on baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and flatted gently to 1-inch thickness.

4. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Reduce oven to 325 degrees F.

5. Cut each roll diagonally into 1/2-inch slices, between 12 and 15 per roll. Place slices cut side down on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Turn slices over and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 24 biscotti.

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