Summer days have slipped away and although I always look forward to the season change and all that it brings, thoughts of long sun filled afternoons make me a tad melancholy. The flavors and smells of freshly grown summer herbs are difficult to capture once the time has passed. The perfume of the lavender fields are an iconic symbol of summer and what better way recapture that image than with Lavender & Chocolate Biscotti.
Fragrant lavender or lavanda has long been use for culinary purposes, historically most often in savory dishes. The trend to incorporate lavender into sweets has evolved over the years and is widely appreciated among acclaimed pastry chefs. Naturally, only organic lavender is suitable for cooking purposes. Each summer I gather my lavender to dry for any number of purposes during the winter months.
Lavender pairs nicely with other assertive flavors such as lemon, rosemary, mint and dark chocolate. The secret is to use it sparingly as it can easily overpower a dish, the delicate essence is what you want to achieve – otherwise your dessert may end up resembling a bar of soap or potpourri.
The dried buds of the lavender easily pull away from the stem. When using lavender for baking, I recommending combining the buds with a bit of the sugar from the recipe and grinding them together in a spice or coffee grinder until a uniform powder has formed. When infusing lavender in cream or milk, be sure to steep it while the liquid is warm and covered, then strain well.
The biscotti dough is simple to prepare and actually a variation of my basic recipe. Bittersweet chocolate balances the assertive flavor of the lavender well, a semisweet or milk chocolate is too sweet and lacks the deep flavor that is necessary.
Feeling a bit forlorn for those summer days…go ahead and bake Lavender & Chocolate Biscotti to bring back a few memories.
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- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- Seeds of ½ of a plump vanilla bean
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 Tbs. of organic lavender buds
- 2½ cup of all purpose flour
- 1½ tsp. of baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Take the lavender buds along with 2 tablespoons of the sugar from the measured amount and place in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or blender - process until you create a fine powder.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
- Place the softened butter, vanilla seeds, lavender powder and remaining sugar into the work bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during this process.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute each, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Remove the work bowl from the mixer and add the dry ingredients using a spatula. When you have incorporated the dry ingredients about half way, add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and continue to turn with the spatula until there are no traces of white. Do not over mix the dough.
- Lay three lengths of plastic wrap on the counter, each about 18 inches in length. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and form a log of dough about 2 to 3 inches wide in the center of each piece of plastic wrap. Smooth the dough logs with your fingers dampened with cold water, do not leave any residual water on the biscotti dough. Wrap the logs with the plastic wrap, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and into the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325º and have the oven rack positioned in the upper and middle third of the oven; line two cookie sheets with parchment. Unwrap the refrigerated biscotti dough and lay two logs on one of the baking sheets about 4 inches apart. Lay the third log on the second baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the logs are golden brown and firm to the touch. Midway through the baking process, reverse the baking sheets from front to back while switching shelves. Remove from the oven to completely cool on wire racks.
- Preheat the oven to 275 º. Once the logs are completely cooled begin to slice into biscotti, one log at a time. Lay the baked log on a cutting board and using a serrated knife with a pressing motion cut into ½ inch diagonal slices. Lay the sliced biscotti back on the parchment lined baking sheet to oven dry for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before storing in an airtight container. Dust with confectioner’s sugar when ready to serve.