These Chili Chocolate Biscotti might be the best biscotti I have made so far. Took it a step up by pairing with Mexican-Style Spiced Coffee.
The best biscotti?
I don’t make a habit out of throwing around words like “best” or “ultimate”, but in the case of these Chili Chocolate Biscotti I feel that a superlative is warranted. You know how there are recipes you try that you instinctively know will end up being a crowd pleaser, and then there are those that leave you wondering if you would end up being the only one who appreciates the end result?
Well, when I started the recipe, I wondered if this would fall under the latter category. See, outside of my siblings and myself, it’s rare for me to hear many say they enjoy chili in their chocolate. For many people, chili doesn’t belong in desserts and sweets, and so chili and chocolate seems like such a strange combo. I take it as a good sign that more and more local artisan chocolatiers are making chocolate bars with chili in it, since these people probably study the market more extensively than I do. It means more people are opening themselves up to flavors that can be called “unusual” in these parts.
I made this Chili Chocolate Biscotti recipe partly out of curiosity and partly because I had a feeling I would enjoy this myself. It helps that someone had gifted me with a ton of almonds this one time, pushing me to finally give this a go. I was taken completely by surprise by how good these were, and I think a lot of people– regardless of their experience with chili and chocolate together– will have the same reaction.
Just to put things in perspective: One of my taste testers for this is a middle-aged mechanic who notoriously sticks to classic flavors. (His wife gifted me the almonds, btw.) But since he likes spicy food, I gave him some of these Chili Chocolate Biscotti to try out just for the heck of it. I had no way of knowing how the reaction to these biscotti would be, but at the very least, I wanted him and his wife to know I put the almonds they gave me into good use.
Imagine my surprise when he actually went out of his way to tell me that these were one of the most unusual spicy things he’s ever eaten, and that they’re so good I should make sure to give him some when I make them again. Here is actually where the name Spicy Chocolate Biscotti came from. He calls this ‘maanghang na biskwit na tsokolate‘, which translates to ‘spicy chocolate cookie‘ in English. And while I realize how perfectly that describes this cookie, for the sake of searchable terms we’ll stick with Chili Chocolate Biscotti lol.
Whatever you end up calling this, one thing is for sure: You must give this a go!
Warm and cozy cookie
To be honest, I had meant to post this recipe right before Christmas or New Year. Its element of warmth and coziness seemed extra fitting for the season, and it’s not everyday I get to tell you that you can get some literal heat from a cookie to warm you up lol. But since the weather is still nice and chilly, I think now wouldn’t be such a bad time.
These Chili Chocolate Biscotti are dangerous in that they’re just sweet enough and chocolatey enough to allow you to binge on them without giving you that maxed-out-of-chocolate feeling. The best part is that little lick of heat that jumps out at you right before you swallow, all thanks to cayenne pepper powder. The heat lingers briefly in a very nice way, but perhaps if you use another type of chili powder things might be different? In my experience, the spiciness intensifies with each passing day, along with the chocolate and nutty flavors in the biscotti, so you might want to take note of that if you decide to switch out the cayenne for something else.
I also really love the texture of these babies! Perfectly firm with a snap! (I hate hard biscotti!!!) They’re fabulous on their own, but as is usual with most biscotti, they level up a notch when dipped in a warm drink. Of course you can simply dip them in coffee, but I thought I’d amp up the spicy chocolate aspect by pairing it with a coffee that has both elements. Mexican-Style Spiced Coffee! If you’re up for a double whammy, I highly suggest this pairing.
I can’t rightly put to words how memorable these Chili Chocolate Biscotti are. And that’s a big deal coming from someone who tests loads of recipes and tastes tests tons of cookies. In my opinion, this is hands-down one of the best biscotti I have ever made, and one of my personal forever faves.
- This recipe requires NATURAL unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutched. Since this recipe uses baking soda as its chemical leavening agent, natural cocoa powder works best for the recipe. It’s got to do with science, and how acidic natural cocoa powder is. Baking soda will help balance out the natural cocoa powder’s acidity and remove any unpleasant flavors, allowing unadulterated chocolate flavor to come through.
- Use good cayenne pepper powder. You don’t have to but the expensive stuff, but at the very least, don’t use cayenne that’s past its expiration date. That way, you not only get heat but also some peppery nuances in there too. In my experience, the spiciness intensifies with each passing day, along with the chocolate and nutty flavors in the biscotti, so you might want to take note of that if you decide to switch out the cayenne for something else. You are free to experiment!
- Feel free to use your chocolate and nuts of choice. Personally, I prefer using chocolate chunks for pockets of oozing chocolate rather than chips for recipes like this. I also prefer using almonds, but I imagine hazelnuts would work great as well. Chop them up roughly so it isn’t too hard to slice the biscotti.
- Scoring the biscotti dough before putting it into the oven for the first bake is a great idea. I often forget to do this step, but whenever I do, it really makes the job of slicing the biscotti so much easier for me. After the first bake, allow the biscotti to cool down a little so it doesn’t shatter or break into pieces when you slice. It might be very very soft while hot.
- Feel free to divide the sliced biscotti into 2 trays when you’re in the final baking/drying stage. Most bakers will tell you to place the sliced biscotti about an inch apart in a baking tray during the second baking stage. This step is to avoid overcrowding the pan and to ensure the biscotti dries out evenly. However, I usually just use 1 baking tray and put the biscotti close to each other so I don’t have to wash a separate tray lol. My biscotti always dry out evenly and nicely either way. You can experiment and see what works best for you. Just make sure to return them to the oven CUT SIDE UP!
- If you find that your cookies are not dry enough after the prescribed time, turn off the oven and leave the cookies inside for a few minutes more. Do remember however that these cookies will continue to firm up as they cool to room temperature, so I generally advise taking them out once they look just dry. Otherwise, over-drying them may make them tough once they’ve cooled to room temp.
- Leftovers must be kept in an airtight container. I generally enjoy these more a day after baking because the cayenne starts really kicking in! They will be at their best consumed within 4 days. Enjoy with hot coffee or the drink below!
Chili Chocolate Biscotti
For the biscotti
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped*
- 1 cup chocolate chips, mixture of semi- and bittersweet is best
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting if desired
Make the biscotti
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line and lightly flour a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until well-combined and mixture is light.
- Add in dry mixture and use a spatula to fold until combined. Add in chocolate chips and almonds until a soft dough is formed.
- Using floured hands, divide dough into two portions, and form each portion into two flattened half-logs about 11 to 12 inches long by 3 inches wide. (They will look kind of like humps on the road.) Wet hands and smooth the tops of the half-logs. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
- Using a knife, score top of dough diagonally, ¾ to 1-inch apart depending on how thick you want them. These markings will help make slicing the cooked biscotti a little easier later on.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack so it won’t be too hot to handle. Place the baking sheet on a stable heatproof surface, then cut biscotti through, following where you scored it previously.
- Nudge the biscotti pieces cut side up on the baking sheet, the bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Check them at the 10-minute mark to see if they’re dry and crisp. Otherwise, bake 5 minutes more. Cool completely and enjoy with the Mexican Spiced Coffee. Keep leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.
Watch how it's made
- You can use either natural or Dutched cocoa for the drink recipe. In my opinion, Dutch-processed cocoa generally tastes better in drinks however because it’s been processed to be flavorful on its own.
- You can adjust the amount of spices according to your taste. Since this is a Mexican-style drink, chocolate, cinnamon, and chili powder are a prominent part of the recipe. You can also perfectly taste them in the drink. Reduce depending on your preference, but I feel like this is perfectly spiced already so I personally don’t recommend adding. But hey, it’s your tastebuds.
- You can use frothed milk and/or top with whipped cream and marshmallows if you want. I actually decided not to add any toppings because I wanted to dip my biscotti straight into the coffee, but I did dust mine with extra cocoa powder on top of the milk froth. (It dissipated right away because I used the wrong milk lol.)
Mexican Spiced Coffee
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder, (Dutch-processed tastes best for this)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder, or a pinch of cayenne
- ¾ cup freshly brewed coffee
- ¼ cup milk, can also top with whipped cream, if desired
- In a serving mug, add in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and chili. Mix briefly, then pour in the hot coffee. Stir to dissolve.
- Steam and froth the milk if desired, then pour into the mug. Serve immediately with biscotti!
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