Monday, February 6, 2012

Wheat-Free Chocolate Radicals

Enrico's Biscotti,  is an essential stop any time you're doing The Strip in Pittsburgh.  Wait, no, it's not what you're imagining...The Strip District is an area adjacent to downtown that is filled with the best in all types of foods to delight your inner foodie.  The world famous original Primanti's is there, too!

We've got grocery stores that are Greek, Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese....I think you get the picture.  Specialty stores for coffee, wine, cheese, meats and cheeses, sausages, fish and seafood and spices line the crowded sidewalks. 

Streetside vendors hawk everything from baked goods to Chinese vegetable pancakes to meat on a stick to BBQ to tacos made before your eyes...and that's just a sampling of the food.  There are tables with bargains galore in fashion, comic books, Steeler swag, colorful scarves...and then there is the live music and the lobster phone guy outside Wholey's.  It is a party!  It is a feast for all the senses! 

So back to Enrico's Biscotti.  My favorite cookie - before the gluten issue - was their Chocolate Radical.  It was a giant chocolate cookie that was simultaneously crunchy and chewy, crisp and melty.  Like The Strip, the Chocolate Radical was a chocolate feast for the senses!  I miss it.  But not totally, because this a wheat-free approximation - it comes pretty close - and it fills that dreamy chocolate void very nicely.  And whatever you do, when you visit Pittsburgh, be sure to do The Strip!

Wheat-Free Chocolate Radicals
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips - I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao (check to be sure these are GF for gluten-free version)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (check to be sure it's gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso coffee powder (if you don't have it, use instant coffee - I have!)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour - I use Jules Gluten-free flour (if you aren't worrying about a GF product, just use regular white flour!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder - Rumsford for the GF version
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips - same as above
  • 1 cup walnuts halves, toasted
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt 1 pound chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water, stir until smooth and lump-free.  Remove from heat.  With mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until pale yellow and VERY thick, about 10 minutes - the thicker the better.  

Beat in melted chocolate, melted butter, vanilla and espresso powder.  

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Stir  into chocolate mixture.  Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.  

Line several large cookie sheets with parchment paper or use a Silpat if you have one.  Using an ice cream scoop (yes, the big one with the lever on it), drop batter onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing evenly.  Flatten out into rounds.  

Bake cookies until tops are dry and cracked, about 20 minutes, depending on your oven.  Cool cookies right on the parchment.  When cool, remove from parchment and store in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 2 dozen LARGE cookies.
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