Thursday, May 2, 2013

Baking Break: Coffee, Biscotti, and Ordering the Storm

I barely get up from my desk when I’m in drafting mode. New words and new ideas consume me and distract the mechanism in my brain that reminds me to eat or drink—except constant coffee refills, of course. Yet my brain switches gears in more ways than one when I get into revising and editing.

When I tinker with a manuscript, or when I order the storm of a poetry collection—as I am doing now—I crave snacks. There is something about baking from scratch that aligns well with rearranging pages of poems. Each task requires organization and a vision; each requires attention to detail with an end-goal in mind.

Normally, I’m a salty snacker. In front of the television or at the movies, I lean toward the salty tang of chips and popcorn. When it comes to editing tasks, though, my inner baker comes out to play. Maybe it’s the sense of comfort food. Maybe it’s the tactile approach to turning an assortment of ingredients into a cohesive whole.

While I don’t remember where I picked up the base for this biscotti recipe, it is one I have turned to repeatedly. Over time, I have added more chocolate than I recall the original recipe called for (duh) and I sometimes vary the end result by adding pecans or walnuts. Or more chocolate still.

With the weekend ahead and a final pass through this collection, it’s the perfect time to bake and the perfect time to share.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Biscotti
2 tbs warm water
2 tbs instant coffee granules, good quality
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease baking sheet; cover with parchment paper. Combine water and coffee granules in small bowl; stir until coffee is dissolved. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in small bowl. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in oil and coffee mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Cut dough in half; place each portion onto prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, quickly stretch dough to form two flattened logs. Bake 15-20 minutes or until set and almost firm. Let cool to room temperature. Cut logs into 1” thick slices using serrated knife. Lay slices on prepared baking sheet, cut-side-down and about 1” apart. Bake, turning each slice over halfway through, for 15 minutes or until biscotti is slightly toasted and crisp. Let cool slightly on baking sheet; remove to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy.

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