Low Fat Chocolate Walnut and Cherry Biscotti

by moderndomestic on January 6, 2011

Chocolate cranberry walnut biscotti - photo by Mango Tomato!

I stayed in DC for Christmas this year – only the second time I’ve ever been away from my family in Oregon for the holiday. It was strange – and a little sad – to stay in the city, but it had its upsides. One of them was baking chocolate biscotti with Mango Tomato on Christmas Eve (we also wrapped presents and I forced her to watch Top Chef On Demand).

These biscotti are adapted from a Robyn Webb recipe – a DC-based blogger who focuses on healthy cooking and wellness. The only fat in these biscotti comes from the eggs and the cocoa butter in the cocoa powder – they’re light and not very sweet. Most of the flavor comes from the cocoa, walnuts, and dried cherries – a delicious combination. They’d be perfect for dunking in coffee or tea.

Olga said that this recipe was “fine, but not spectacular,” which I agreed with. It’s always hard cutting down on fat and sugar in baked goods. Fat enhances flavor and adds tenderness, and sugar not only sweetens but also tenderizes, so it’s difficult to balance the “structure builders” in your dough (like flour and cocoa powder) without fat and sugar.

If I were to make them again, I’d add a little oil or butter to up the fat content (I think this would help them crisp up too), and maybe add a little more sugar to help balance the flour (I know, I know – I’d want to make them more unhealthy!). I’d also experiment with dissolving the cocoa powder in some water and then mixing it in with the dough, rather than sifting it in with the dry ingredients. I have a hunch that dissolving cocoa powder in boiling water helps bring out its chocolate flavor, and eliminates the floury flavor that it adds to baked goods. I loved the chocolate, cherry and walnut flavor combination, and I might kick it up by adding chocolate chips, or dipping the biscotti in chocolate.

Do you have a favorite biscotti recipe that you’d like to share? And do you find it hard to cut down on the sugar and fat in your baked goods and still make them tasty?

Another lovely photo from Mango Tomato.

Chocolate, walnut & dried cherry biscotti
Recipe from Mango Tomato, adapted from Robyn Webb

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups (11.25 oz) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (.73 oz) cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for the egg wash

Directions

1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder. Sift in cocoa powder.
2. Add walnuts and dried cherries to the mixture of dried ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl combine eggs and vanilla. Incorporate into the dried ingredients mixture.
4. Form the dough into two logs on top of a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten the logs and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
5. Optional: I noticed that the logs were rather dull as they were baking. Jenna suggested I brush an egg wash on them and I listened!
6. Once the logs are firm to the touch, take them out of the oven and let them cool.
7. Cut the logs diagonally into slices about 1/3rd of an inch thick and bake them again for 15-25 minutes until they are well toasted. Jenna and I hiked up the oven temperature to 375 in the last 10 minutes and also turned the biscotti over half way through the baking process.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel January 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm

My favorite biscotti recipe is actually a chocolate hazelnut biscotti in veganomicon. They are not too sweet, and are kind of nutella-y due to the chopped hazelnuts. Also, Vegan Cookies Invades Your Cookie Jar has a fantastic recipe for lemon cornmeal biscotti … I think I posted about it last spring. I’ll let you know when I come up with a good gluten-free version!

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Victoria (District Chocoholic) January 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm

To add a little fat/moisture to these, perhaps you could replace the cocoa powder with unsweetened chocolate, and then cut back on some fat by replacing the eggs with egg beaters (or 2 egg whites + 2 eggs).

Without writing a short thesis about reduced fat and reduced sugar baking, a couple of thoughts:
-It works best if the feature ingredient is naturally sweet and moist – think apple cakes, pumpkin muffins. You have the ability to increase the fruit/vegetable and reduce the fat without impacting the final product very much.
-Use THE BEST spices and vanilla possible. They add no fat or sugar but enhance the flavor a lot.
-Egg beaters and low-fat yogurt are your friends.

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Olga @ MangoTomato January 6, 2011 at 10:28 pm

all I have to say is that I love our baking dates! Once it gets warmer, they should be followed up by long walks to burn off some of the calories :)

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moderndomestic January 11, 2011 at 11:06 am

Christine – yes, sorry about the formatting – I’m fudged it for an hour and this is the clearest I could get the fractions. Sorry for the confusion!

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