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I am using a recipe that calls for double strength espresso, but I would like to use instant coffee crystals instead in order to reduce the overall amount of liquid in the dough. The recipe, Union Square Cafe's Chocolate Biscotti, tends to produce a very wet dough that is difficult to work with. I'm having a hard time deciding how much of the instant coffee to use to get the same amount of coffee flavor as I would get from double strength espresso. Thoughts?

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That recipe only calls for 1 teaspoon of liquid espresso; there is no way that the espresso is the liquid that is making it hard to work with. The liquid in the recipe is coming from the eggs.

That said, if you wanted to substitute that 1tsp, I'd use 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder. Since the mix of instant espresso powder for making a fake espresso is almost 1:1 by volume, you can cut it in half any time to use dry.

Do not use instant coffee, it will not work. The goal of adding espresso to a recipe like the biscotti is to make the chocolate taste "richer" by adding additional roasted and bitter notes. Most instant coffee lacks these flavors. There are exceptions, such as Cafe Bustelo, that are specifically formulated to have a darker-roasted flavor and would work as well as espresso powder. But anything described as "crystals" is probably better simply omitted.

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An espresso is a single shot of coffee produced by a coffee machine. In general coffee of this sort is used to make any of the common coffees you can order at any good coffee shop - so a long black, latte, "Americano", macchiato etc are all produced with an espresso base.

With instant coffee crystals, they will have some instructions on the side of the container that tell you how to make 1 cup of coffee - the volume of crystals to use for this is equivalent to the amount of coffee to deliver the flavour for a standard cup and hence is equivalent to the amount to produce 1 espresso.

Edited to add: It would take experimentation with any brand of instant coffee to get a decent conversion between it and espresso in flavour and strength because each brand is different in flavour profile and strength, though most use a "heaped teaspoon" per cup in my experience. However, FuzzyChef's answer is the right one here if you aim to get the espresso flavour coming through properly.

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    A cup of coffee is not an espresso.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 15, 2022 at 5:05
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    @FuzzyChef I think what bob1b is getting at is that a cup of coffee (e.g. an americano) is a shot plus water - and instant makes up to a comparable strength as instructed
    – Chris H
    Dec 15, 2022 at 8:22
  • @FuzzyChef exactly what ChrisH commented.
    – bob1
    Dec 15, 2022 at 9:54
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    I strongly disagree. The flavor of instant coffee is not at all the same as instant espresso powder, particularly if your goal is to make deeper, richer chocolate baked goods (which it is in the recipe). Like ... you can substitute paprika for chili powder, but don't expect the resulting chili to taste the same.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:13
  • @FuzzyChef I agree with that too, instant coffee is not the same as espresso in flavour or strength, but the conversion is approximately the same. Perhaps if you made instant coffee in espresso volume, it would taste more or less the same as espresso. I've never used instant espresso powder - didn't even know it was a thing
    – bob1
    Dec 16, 2022 at 1:07

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