Following the success of my Star Anise Biscotti, I was asked to make another batch of these crunchy cookies by one of Meat and Tater Man’s co-workers at the construction site. The request was punctuated with a desire for “something similar with chocolate”, which I thought was a great idea. I came across this recipe from Alice Medrich, whose books on baking I absolutely love. Alice writes in an easy to read, nonchalant, yet suggestive in a “why don’t you try this” sort of way, and then once you do, you’re amazed at how perfectly delicious her baked goods are, how simple yet precise her recipes are, and you continue baking again. Three books later, I’m still enthralled with Alice’s recipes, her dialogue, and her writing.
This recipe is what Alice calls an upgrade. The original recipe is called Chocolate Biscotti, and like at the end of many of her recipes, Alice recommends variations on the original to switch things up a bit. The upgrade I chose involved substituting chocolate chips for the nuts, and adding freshly ground coffee to the batter. After receiving a sample of freshly ground Starbucks coffee, I thought it would be the perfect way to use this sample, and it was.
It was also a bonus that I happened to land on a bunch of bags of Ghirardelli chocolate chips at the supermarket that were on sale. I love that brand, and it gives me good results when baking, so when it went on sale, I went nuts and grabbed way more than I should have. While in the checkout line, the cashier asked me what I was going to bake. My response of “I’m not sure yet!” stunned her, as though she was shocked to see someone buy so many bags of chocolate without having a specific recipe in mind. But I’m like that. Life presents you with little hints (like chocolate chips for sale) and the directions or roadmap show up a bit later, always, if you trust the process of life. I did, and this recipe came to me just because I picked up this book, amongst hundreds of baking books and came across the right recipe for the ingredients I had. I love when life is like that. And I love these cookies.
If you think ground coffee is a strange cookie ingredient, don’t. It doesn’t taste like that at all. It merely provides the scent of mocha (coffee flavoured chocolate), and its flavour blends most appropriately with the cocoa in the cookie batter, and the oodles of chocolate chips. My daughter has been asking for these as a lunch box snack every day this week, and since she hasn’t taken up coffee drinking while still in grade three, I feel confident and safe presenting this version to you, even if you stand firmly united with most eight year olds and don’t like coffee. You’ll like these. Alice describes them as “dry crunchy biscotti with a finer, less open grain and a more tender crunch reminiscent of a good graham cracker.” My daughter describes them as crunchy brownies. Either way you put it, they’re fabulous. With, or without, a cup of coffee on the side. Tall glass of milk, anyone?
Feel free to play around with substitutions in this classic cookie recipe. Instead of chocolate chips, you could add a cup of chopped nuts. You can omit the ground coffee altogether. For an orange version, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of finely grated orange zest with the vanilla.
Recipe courtesy of Alice Medrich via her book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.
Alice notes that if you use natural cocoa powder, it will impart a brighter chocolate flavour, while Dutch process cocoa will add a slight Oreo cookie flavour. Have it your way!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural (non-alkalized) or Dutch process
- 2 tsp instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda if using natural cocoa powder or 2 tsp baking powder if using Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp coarsely ground espresso or coffee beans
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Position a rack in the centre of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat or foil, or grease it with butter.
- Combine the flour, cocoa, espresso powder (if using), baking soda or powder, and salt in a medium bowl and mix together with a whisk or fork.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until soft and creamy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined and ingredients are moistened.
- Add the chocolate chips and coffee grounds and mix into the ingredients.
- Spread the dough into a long flat loaf, about 16 by 4 inches, and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the loaf is firm but springy to the touch, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pan on a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
- Transfer the loaf carefully to a cutting board. If you used a liner, slide a metal spatula under the loaf to detach and remove the liner.
- Using a long serrated knife, cut the loaf crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch wide. Transfer the slices to the unlined cookie sheet, standing them 1/2 inch apart.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes again, or until the surface of the cookies feels dry and crusty. Place the cookie sheet on a rack. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing.
- May be kept in an airtight container for several weeks.