I made these cherry, chocolate, and ancho-chili biscotti as Christmas gifts, but they work equally well for Valentine’s Day. These elegant biscotti feature rich chunks of Scharfenberger dark chocolate, tart dried cherries, and walnuts; ancho chili powder sparks these flavors with subtle heat.
Recipe (adapted from Art Smith’s Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family by Art Smith):
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 large orange
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons pure ground ancho chile powder (available at Wegman’s)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (I like Scharfenberger)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (3 ounces) dried cherries
Position the racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl until well combined, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, chile powder, and salt to combine. Using a wooden spoon, gradually beat in the butter mixture. Work in the chocolate, walnuts, and cherries.
Divide the dough in half. Using lightly floured hands on a floured work surface, form the dough into two 10 x 2-inch logs. Place the logs on an ungreased large baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Bake on the center rack until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, carefully cut the logs into diagonal slices about 1/2 inch wide. Place the slices on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until the undersides of the biscotti are beginning to brown at the edges, about 8 minutes. Turn the biscotti over. Switch the positions of the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking until lightly browned on the other side, about 8 minutes. Cool completely onbaking sheets. The biscotti can be preapred up to 1 week ahead, cooled, and tightly covered in an airtight container stored at room temperature.
Makes about 28 biscotti.