Monday, November 12, 2007


Chocolate, Fig & Black Pepper Biscotti

Oh my goodness! Yet another post on baked goods! What is with me these days? Hmmm.

Well, on with the show...

Somewhere far back in the mists of time, I did some (*ahem*) work for a woman who had a thriving business selling "Famous Biscotti." Not sure how famous they really were in actuality, but they sure were tasty. Obsess-tastic, in fact. No doubt about. The woman had managed perfection.

What made her twice-baked bonne bouche so magically different from the norm, was that (they were just good!) she sliced them extra thin. One small change, that changed my entire view of the biscotti world.

I mean, how often have you taken a bite into one of these coffee-house favorites, and thought might you might just crack a molar? With a slender cookie, that problem evaporates like a martini left out in the hot sun (oh, what a sad thought!)...I mean, well, I mean the problem is solved.

My version, (which is not her recipe at all, mind you -- I say that because I would not be surprised to get a stern phone call if I posted anything even close to her recipe. She is a delightful person, but quite proprietary about her cookies and most assuredly not the type it's prudent to cross. That said, this version is all mine...promise) does utilize her fantastic technique none-the-less.

I mean hey, a good idea is a good idea, right?


This combo includes dense, chewy figs; rich, dark chocolate and a small hint of ground pepper, as a background note that gives it that extra something special. It just so happened that I used all organic ingredients, and super high fat European style butter too...if you have the option of doing so too, I encourage you to.

After having made the same version of biscotti for years, this was a welcome addition to my repertoire, and will - for sure - make an appearance in my own lil' flight-o-fancy life again's just my idea of wintery perfection.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy. (That's my new "tag line." Do you love it? Hee.)

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried figs
Black pepper
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
White chocolate for garnish

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or coat with baking spray.

Sprinkle the figs with a tiny bit of flour. Chop fine. The flour prevents (somewhat) the figs from sticking to your knife. When diced, grind a few turns worth of black pepper over the figs. No more than three turns. Set this all aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Combine the sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla in another bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir until well blended, then gently mix in the peppered figs and chocolate chips.

Pop that into the freezer for 10 minutes. No need to cover it, your pulling it out soon enough.

Divide the dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each piece into 2 1/2-inch-wide, 9 1/2-inch-long, 1-inch-high parallelogram. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake the biscotti for about 35 minutes, keeping watch they don't burn. Remove from the oven (leave the oven on though) and let them cool completely on the sheet on a cooling rack.

Transfer the logs to work surface. Using a serrated bread knife, cut on the diagonal (now do you see why I suggested the parallelogram?) into 1/4-inch-wide slices.

Arrange the slices, back onto that same sheet. Bake 8 minutes; then flip them over and continue to bake until just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer your biscotti to a cooling rack.

I drizzled the finished biscotti with melted white chocolate, but the photos were ghastly, so, while I think it looked fab, its not what I showed here...I do think its worth doing though. Melt some white chocolate in the top of a double boiler, then put it into a squeeze bottle, and do a nice zig-zag down each cookie. Let that cool completely, before serving.


Progressive Baker is an excellent resource if you ever want to fiddle with your baking formulas!

Biscotti was first created in the fourteenth century in the Tuscany region of Italy.

Columbus introduced cacao beans to Spain in 1504. They were not really popular anywhere else until almost twenty years later when Cortez, a Spanish conquistador, planted them in Trinidad, Haiti, Fernando Po on his way back to Spain from Mexico. -


I never liked biscotti until I heard it's supposed to be dipped in coffee. Mmmmm, that's yummy!
Mmm...with that combination of ingredients, I can't imagine NOT falling in love with it - especially if I can save all that expensive dental work!!
These look fabulous! I've been wanting to try a good biscotti recipe and it looks like this may be it!
My mom learned to make biscotti from the mother of an early Italian boyfriend. She taught her to make them only about 3-4 inches long and maybe 1/2" thick, max. I think the hugeness is an American thing. After all, they were meant to be dipped in to little cups of espresso or something, not venti lattes, so no need for these very long objects. ;+)

I'm so glad you posted this recipe. I've been pondering how putting something in besides cookie dough, i.e., like your figs, would affect the finished biscotti. Thanks!
It seems like lately everybody has been making sweets with black pepper. I enjoy the idea and have been secretly bookmarking the recipes...yours looks great too. The idea of black pepper is just...fascinating.

Thank you for finding my blog so I could discover yours - it's really lovely:)
lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this
When you cut your biscotti thin, do they survive dipping in coffee or wine?

What a jam-packed-with-ideas post. Figs, black pepper, and chocolate together. I will have to try.
Papin - Yes, absolutly. They are still a really hard cookie, just...easier to bite into!
These go really, really well with wine too...
wow, you've gotta love a baker who uses words like parrallelogram in her baking instructions. This sounds like a divine combination to me. Black pepper is an underrated spice which used judiciously can be sublime. I like Papins comment about the wine and was just wondering how this would go with a SOuth African Pineau de Laborie, a fortified red pinotage wine with notes of berries, spices and chocolate. I hope you don't mind Rachel but I'm pinching some of your biscotti for my Kaffee Klatsch.
You're absolutely right about that -- your white chocolate does make the biscotti look ghostly but trust me, they taste yummy! For those who have the patience, the time and the ideas will make the white chocolate dizzles look wonderful. The combination of white chocolate and black pepper goes surprisingly well.
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