My last grocery trip resulted in an unexpected prize – big, juicy, beautiful oranges. I haven’t bought any for a long time because the last ones I did buy were dry and sour. Awful. But these, oh my. They reminded me of ones we bought from a roadside stand in Florida. We had to pull the car over to the side of the road and perch ourselves on the edges of our seats, keeping our arms outside of the car so the juice running down them wouldn’t get all over the car seats. I’d never had oranges like that, though as a kid, Santa always brought me a stocking packed with big juicy oranges and apples…a sunshiny vacation in my head for this South Dakota kid stuck in Christmas snow. Naturally, what does a cook do with a find like that? In this case, orange and chocolate biscotti, two of my favorite things in one package.
These deserve the very nicest, juiciest oranges you can find and high-quality chocolate. You only need half of one orange, lucky you, so you can go ahead and eat or share the other half. Wash it well, then zest the whole orange, cut it in half and juice that half. If good oranges are not available, use a couple of tablespoons of undiluted frozen orange juice concentrate. Toast the nuts in a 350ºF oven for about 7-12 minutes, till they begin to brown, then let them cool and coarsely chop them. I’ve made these biscotti with sliced almonds and with pecans, but walnuts or hazelnuts would be good too. This can be mixed by hand. Some semi-sweet chocolate makes a simple ganache you can use to frost, dip, or drizzle over the finished biscotti. Don’t be intimidated by ganache, it really is simple, but check out this video for some helpful tips. She even tells you how to fix it if something goes wrong.
– Joan, 19 February 2021
Orange & chocolate biscotti
- 2⅓ cups (290 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- zest from 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- ¾ cup (90 grams) nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) orange juice, freshly squeezed or concentrate
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
For the chocolate ganache
- 8 oz. (227 grams) semi-sweet chocolate bar or chips (I used Baker’s), finely chopped
- ½ cup (114 grams) heavy cream or half and half
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingers to mix in the cold butter, rubbing it into the dry mixture until only very small pieces remain. Whisk the eggs into the orange juice, then add the zest, oil, and extracts. Pour the liquid into the dry mixture and stir till it all comes together. A Danish dough whisk is handy for mixing loose doughs and batters.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a cookie sheet or pan with parchment.
Dump the dough onto a floured work surface. This dough is sticky but try not to add a lot of flour as you work with it. Sprinkle some flour on the top of the dough and make a letterfold. Use more flour to turn it over and repeat. Do this 3 or 4 times, then flatten dough into a rectangle about 4″x16″ and cut it in half for two pieces, each 4″x8″ and about 1/2″ thick. Place the two halves onto the parchment-lined baking pan and bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
Cut each half into slices 1/2″-3/4″ wide, trimming off the uneven end pieces. Lay them cut-side down on the parchment-lined baking pan and bake again for 8 minutes. Turn them over and bake an additional 8 minutes. Cool completely before glazing or dipping with chocolate ganache.
To make the chocolate ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a large enough bowl to allow stirring with the cream. Heat the cream to simmering over medium heat. Just bring to a simmer, when bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the pan, no hotter. Pour the warmed cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for a couple of minutes till the chocolate starts to melt, then stir it together until all of the chocolate is melted and smooth. You can microwave the mixture for up to 30 seconds if some chocolate chunks don’t melt completely, then stir again until the ganache is smooth and creamy. Whisk in more hot cream, an ounce at a time, to thin it (I should have done that before attempting to randomly drizzle with my ganache that was a little too thick, as you can see by the blobs in the photo). It will thicken as it cools and you can save any extra to drizzle over ice cream, or frost cracker for after-school snacks, eat with a spoon when nobody is looking… Allow the chocolate to dry completely before storing the biscotti. Check out the linked video for suggestions if the ganache seems too thick, too thin, grainy or oily. Be sure to cover any leftover ganache before it cools.