crumbling biscotti problem
I've been a chocolate-biscotti making kick lately, and just tried making the Chocolate-Pistachio ones in Dec.'s Food & Wine. They are delicious, but WILDLY crumbly; at least a third of them fell apart while I was slicing/rebaking/flipping them. We're still eating the crumbs, but did anyone else have this problem? Any solutions?
Recipe is below, paraphrased.
Sift together 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup dutched cocoa, pinch of salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Beat in 3 eggs to make a crumbly dough. In a separate bowl, cream 4 TB butter with 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 1 TB vanilla, 1 tsp almond extract, and 1 TB strong coffee. Mix butter mix into flour mix to form a squishy dough. Mix in 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped pistachios. Form into 4 logs, bake at 350F for 22 minutes. Let cool 10 min, then slice and rebake at 200F for 30 minutes, pausing to flip the slices over at the 15-minute point.
I'm seeing this post after having made the one-third-crumbly biscottis. I will try again using the alternate method suggested by Aaron. However, I'm wondering also if I didn't pack the dough rolls together tightly enough. Haven't seen anyone focus on that as part of the crumbling problem. Too, the original recipe in Food and Wine didn't call for chopped pistachios, just whole ones. I'm not an experienced baker by any means, so I didn't anticipate that when the knife hit the whole nut as I was slicing, that also broke the cookie. Next time I'll chop the pistachios.
This is the first I've seen of this older thread. I'm in the process of collecting and testing lots of biscotti recipes, my winter baking project this year. I took a look at this recipe, and made some comparisons to other recipes I have, more Americanized versions of biscotti that contain butter or olive oil. I don't think there's enough butter in this recipe, or it may need another egg. I think the dough needs more hydration and that could be the #1 reason for crumbling. I would increase the butter by two tablespoons to start with, for a total of 3 oz. The flour/cocoa powder ratio is quite high and requires more fat than 2 oz, imo, even with three eggs, and yes, I would definitely chop the pistachios for more ease of slicing. Maybe even another egg would prevent crumbling, rather than more butter. I copied this recipe, will give it a try and get back to this thread when I have results.
As far as using fat goes in biscotti, I have a recipe for anise biscotti that contains no fat whatsoever, just eggs and egg whites as moisture and a binder, and I made them recently without any crumbling at all. Traditionally, biscotti is made with eggs and no fat to allow the biscotti to dry and crisp up. The flour ratio in the anise recipe was the same as this one, and I have others based on the two cups of flour/two eggs ratio, but there is no cocoa addition that requires extra hydration. Take a look at this recipe, for comparison; you'll see flour/cocoa in the amount of two cups total, four eggs and no fat:
Did you read through this thread? It's an interesting discussion on fat/eggs/other biscotti issues:
On another note, I don't know why Shaebones recommended using a "sharp knife," and not a serrated one for slicing. Serrated knives don't cause any more crumbling that a sharp chef's, for example, and are actually better for slicing through baked or partially baked dough or bread than other knife types. By using a sawing action rather than a downward slicing motion you get a cleaner slice with less tearing or crushing. I guess it depends on how sharp your serrated knife is; mine is quite new, very sharp and I use it for biscotti without any issue. The dough shoud not be completely baked and too dry for the initial slicing; if it is, shave of a few minutes baking time. Letting the logs cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing first will prevent crumbles also.
In terms of the proportions of ingredients, nothing is wrong...that is a super standard list of ingredients and amounts. I've never seen that technique however. I always make biscotti using recipes that call for the creaming method (cream sugar and butter, add eggs, add dry ingredients). I'm not sure (scientifically) why that would make a difference, but I would try doing it that way, because as I said, the ingredients and proportions look spot on.