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COOKING | MAGAZINE

Recipes: Chocolate and cocoa powder combine for intensely rich desserts

Try chocolate biscotti with pistachios, almonds, and dried cherries or a chocolate-tahini loaf with cinnamon and cayenne.

Chocolate Biscotti With Pistachios, Almonds, and Dried CherriesConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

The secret to better chocolate desserts? More chocolate! Or, more specifically, doubling down on the flavor by using two kinds of chocolate. In our biscotti, a combination of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate creates two layers of a similar flavor that add complexity to a treat studded with pistachios, almonds, and dried cherries. And in an easy quick bread, the bitter notes of cocoa and semisweet chocolate complement a dessert laced with nutty tahini, warm cinnamon, and fiery cayenne.

Chocolate Biscotti With Pistachios, Almonds, and Dried Cherries

Makes about 3 dozen

These biscotti, our adaptation of a recipe from Maida Heatter’s Best Dessert Book Ever, are made with a combination of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate. With a flavor boost from instant espresso powder, they’re dark and rich and not too sugary. Each satisfyingly crunchy slice is studded with pistachios, almonds, and dried cherries.

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Opt for bittersweet chocolate sold in bars rather than chips, which contain additives that help them retain their shape but affect their flavor.

Once the biscotti are fully cooled, they will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.

¾ cup (115 grams) whole almonds

1¾ cups (228 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup (214 grams) white sugar

1/3 cup (27 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon table salt

8 ounces (228 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (see headnote), divided

3 large eggs

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup (115 grams) roasted pistachios

½ cup (71 grams) dried cherries, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 375 degrees with the racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Distribute the almonds in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast on the upper oven rack, stirring once, until lightly browned and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet; reduce the oven to 300 degrees. When the almonds are cool, transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Line the same baking sheet as well as a second one with kitchen parchment.

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In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. In a food processor, combine ½ cup of the flour mixture and 4 ounces (114 grams) of the chopped chocolate. Process until the chocolate is finely ground, about 25 seconds; do not overprocess or the chocolate may begin to melt. Whisk the mixture into the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and, using a silicone spatula, stir and fold, mashing the mixture against the bowl with the spatula, until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened and no streaks of flour remain. Add the remaining chopped chocolate, and the almonds, pistachios, and cherries. Lightly flour your hands and knead gently until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Lightly flour the counter, then turn the dough out onto it and divide it in half. Moisten your hands with water and roll one portion into a 14-inch log. Place the log on one side of one of the prepared baking sheets.

Shape the remaining dough in the same way and place on the other side of the baking sheet, spacing the logs about 4 inches apart.

Bake on the lower rack until the dough has spread into flat, fissured loaves that are firm on the surface and appear dry in the cracks, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the loaves cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 to 25 minutes; immediately after removing from the oven, reduce the temperature to 275 degrees.

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Using a wide metal spatula, carefully transfer the loaves to a cutting board; reserve the baking sheet and its parchment. Using a serrated knife, cut each still-warm loaf on the diagonal into ‹- to ½-inch slices; use a gentle sawing motion to slice about halfway through the thickness of the loaf, then bear down on the knife, slicing straight down to complete the cut. (This slicing technique helps prevent breakage, as sawing through the entire loaf has a greater chance of dislodging nuts, causing the biscotti to break apart.)

Place the biscotti cut side up in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until firm and dry, about 20 minutes, rotating the sheets and switching their positions about halfway through. Let cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Then, remove the biscotti from the sheets and transfer them directly to the racks to cool completely.

Chocolate-Tahini Loaf With Cinnamon and CayenneConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Chocolate-Tahini Loaf With Cinnamon and Cayenne

Makes one 9-inch loaf

The idea to make a quick bread with cocoa, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper comes from Milk Street Facebook Community member Jennifer Polse. Lisa Kinser had the same thing in mind, but she also suggested the addition of tahini. A dark, shiny chocolate-tahini glaze makes this simple quick bread elegant enough to serve as a dessert.

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1¼ cups (163 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (42 grams ) plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more for sprinkling

¾ teaspoon table salt

4 ounces (114 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 large eggs

1 cup (218 grams) packed light brown sugar

½ cup grape-seed or other neutral oil

¾ cup (203 grams) sour cream, divided

1/3 cup (110 grams) plus 3 tablespoons tahini, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 cup (124 grams) powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, then line it with an 8-by-14-inch piece of kitchen parchment, letting the excess overhang the long sides of the pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the ‚ cup (42 grams) cocoa, the baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the cayenne, and the salt. Add the chopped chocolate and toss to coat.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the brown sugar, oil, ½ cup (135 grams) of the sour cream, ‚ cup (110 grams) of the tahini, and 1 teaspoon vanilla; whisk until well combined. Add the flour mixture and mix with a silicone spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface, then rap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted at the center of the loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 55 to 60 minutes.

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Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Lift the loaf out of the pan using the parchment and set it directly on the rack. Let cool completely.

Remove the parchment liner under the loaf. In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa, the remaining ¼ cup (68 grams) sour cream, the remaining 3 tablespoons tahini, and the 1 remaining teaspoon vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze onto the loaf and smooth with a spatula, then sprinkle with additional cayenne. Let stand for about 15 minutes before slicing.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.