How to make cocoa powder feel decadent

They say one of the keys to sticking to a sensible eating plan is to make sure you do not deny yourself any of your favorite foods. This sounds simple enough. However, there is a catch (isn’t there always a catch?). On the surface this statement is fine if you are maintaining a healthy weight, but if you need to lose weight, having a chocolate bar can make it so that you need to push otherwise healthy food off of your daily menu to compensate for the large amount of calories you just took in. Such a strategy can cause hunger because it’s the healthy food that makes us feel full and satisfied. But “they” have a point. Have you ever had a craving, you didn’t give in to, but you ended up eating around the craving, thereby eating way too many calories and still not feeling satisfied? I have. That’s why I am always on the lookout for clever substitutions for things I might crave.

As I made my way through the blogosphere a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto some delicious sounding healthy biscotti. These whole grain gems were spiked with molasses and had gingerbread type spices. I bookmarked the recipe for later but I kept going back to look at it.

Molasses. So complex and completely underrated. We buy it and leave it sitting alone and neglected in our pantries. But why do we use it in the first place? Loaded with minerals, which is a good thing, it has a bad reputation because although it is sweet it has a strong flavor that takes over most recipes. But… what if molasses could be used as a complement to another flavor? One of the things I love about dark chocolate is the fact that like wine, it has a flavor profile that can exhibit hints of tannins, fruit, and spices. It is hard to get that sort of flavor out a baked good made with cocoa powder. But… I started to think, what would molasses do to that cocoa flavor? Could it make it richer? The answer is yes. With just a few tweaks I baked up some biscotti that are rich and satisfying, but are still healthy and low in fat and calories. One cookie is enough to satisfy and still keep me right on track; and isn’t that the key to moderation?

Mexican chocolate biscotti

Adapted from the almond molasses biscotti on Anja’s Food 4 Thought blog

1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if clumpy

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp cinnamon, ground

½ cup almonds, roughly chopped

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp almond extract

½ cup honey

2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine pastry flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Mix until well blended. Add the chopped almonds.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, honey and molasses. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are combined well.
Turn the dough out onto the parchment lined sheet. Form a flat long log, about 1 inch high and 5 inches wide. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until center feels firm to touch.

Let the log cool for about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Use a serrated knife and cut 1/2 inch slices off the log. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread out the biscotti slices on the baking sheet and bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool completely.



  1. May 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Absolutely the key to moderation. Your entire logic train is without flaw here! Exactly what you need. I get my chocolate fix from 7.5 grams slivered into the skim milk I have in my coffee in the morning. 7.5 grams doesn’t look like much and it is actually a very small amount (less than one small hershey’s square) but when it’s 70% bittersweet in coffee without sugar it answers all my need for chocolate for a day. And the science says it’s good for me 😉
    Love biscotti and will have to give this a try. Did you save me one for tomorrow? 😉

    • Mimi said,

      May 6, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      I’ll have to hide one for you. My other diet strategy is to let my large appetite boyfriend know where the goodies are so that they get consumed quickly and efficiently.

  2. mochamay said,

    May 6, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Molasses is so underutilized these days – wonderful recipe, again!

  3. Chai Chai said,

    May 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Molasses is so underutilized these days – wonderful recipe, again!

  4. Andreas said,

    May 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Ah, the joy of biscotti. I can imagine chocolate and molasses to go well together.

  5. May 7, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    This is an unusual recipe that I would imagine would be really delicious, especially with a deep and bitter espresso. What a great idea – and I love biscotti!

  6. drfugawe said,

    May 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Hey girl, is there something you’re not telling us? What makes these babies Mexican? I can see two things that might qualify, the chocolate and the cinnamon – but in neither are you using the stuff that a Mexican baker would.

    So my bet is that there’s something you’re not telling us!

    They do look luscious in any case!

    • Mimi said,

      May 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

      You are correct sir. It is just the chocolate and cinnamon. Here is the ingredient list from my package of Ibarra hot chocolate tablets: Sugar Cacao Nibs, Soy Lecithan and Cinnamon flavor. Yikes, they don’t even use real cinnamon anymore!! But, anyway, that is the traditional hot chocolate mix. I was going to call the cookies “Mexican hot chocolate biscotti” but then I thought someone might take issue with the hot chocolate part of the name. 😀

  7. drfugawe said,

    May 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Ah ha! Yeah, you’ve got to be careful about us legalists – we just lay in wait to pounce at every opportunity. The cinnamon is interesting too – did you know that Mexican cinnamon is different than our cinnamon? What we call cinnamon is actually something called cassia, while the Mexicans use true cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon), which they call canela – once you get to do a taste test with both at one time, you can tell the difference – but otherwise, I, for one, can’t tell much difference.

    • Mimi said,

      May 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm

      The difference is mainly in the texture of the actual cinnamon “stick”. Cassia is hard. Canela is soft. The flavor difference is subtle but I like the less spicy flavor of the Canela.

      Why do I know this? My Mom is guatamalan and I have some distant memory of her coming home with canela that she peeled off of someone’s tree (my Mom was a avid forager when I was a toddler) and she showed it to me explaining it was real cinnamon. I must have been about four at the time. Decades later, I acquired a South American cookbook so I could learn a few ancestral dishes (my Mom rarely cooked guatamalan food). A recipe instructed me to put a stick of cinnamon in my food processor and grind it up before adding the other ingredients. I did not realize that my cinnamon was not the cinnamon from the recipe. That stick stuck to my blade and made a huge rip in the bowl of my new food processor and bent the blade. That distant memory of my Mom showing me cinnamon bark came to mind. I did some reading and realized what the difference was. Now I’ll never forget to use soft cinnamon in mole.

      BTW, I just realized something. Some Mole recipes have chocolate and cinnamon in them. Maybe I should have called these Mole Biscotti intead, lol!!

  8. Jeanne said,

    May 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    These are my kind of biscotti! And now I’ve learned a lot about cinnamon as well. But my first thought while reading this post was “I’m so jealous that you have organic blackstrap molasses at your Trader Joe’s”! That’s not fair.

    • Mimi said,

      May 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      I hate to admit this, but since that bottle is of scary indeterminate age, I don’t know if there is organic blackstrap molasses at my TJs anymore.

  9. Jacqui said,

    May 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I love biscotti! I’ve never had molasses ones though, these sound incredible! You totally hit the key to moderation, never deprive yourself of something you love.

  10. drfugawe said,

    May 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Yeah, you really could’a named them Mole Biscotti, cause mole has almonds in it too! We’re gonna have to swap Guatemala stories some time – I had some interesting adventures there!

    • Mimi said,

      May 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm

      So did my Dad. That’s why me and my sister are here. 😉

  11. ohiofarmgirl said,

    May 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    hey! i’m lovin’ the no-sugar stuff.. great use of molasses and honey. we must be on the same wave length… i had cocoa also just now.. but as hot cocoa (made from goat’s milk, of course!). but one of these would have been the ticket.

    great work – keep it up.

  12. Sandra said,

    May 15, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Looks really delicious! YUM!

  13. Joanne said,

    May 18, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Decadent is exactly the word I would use to describe these. They sound like they are just about bursting with flavor and deeply chocolatey. I like that in a biscotti.

  14. Shelley said,

    June 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Wow…this sounds like something I would love! Too bad there’s no molasses in China. Would honey or kumquat syrup work?

    • Mimi said,

      June 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

      Hi Shelley,
      I’ve never used kumquat syrup so I am not sure how it would work. If it is like honey and has a complex flavor, I say go for it. If not, try honey. A dark honey would work best in this recipe.

  15. pragmaticattic said,

    July 12, 2010 at 6:18 am

    These look great. I am always on the lookout for healthier treats, especially now that DH is on WW.

    • Mimi said,

      July 12, 2010 at 8:02 am

      These are pretty good for WW. I think they worked out to around 2 pts each for a pretty generous sized cookie. On the other hand…watch out for the rice krispies treats you were eyeing up. I cut them into 15 large squares and they were 6 pts. I had to cut them into smaller portions.

      In case you were curious about this response, I am still having a love hate relationship with WW. I fell off the wagon and have a toe clinging on to the back of the wagon…

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