If you've never made your own biscotti before, you're missing out on something wonderful. If you've only had them from a box, or one that was massed produced and handed to you with your morning coffee, there's a whole new world of deliciousness awaiting you. I'm a big fan of crazy flavors in my biscotti, but for this, my first biscotti post, I had to share my favorite: straight-up almond.
Who better to turn to for a winning biscotti recipe than my favorite baker, Dorie Greenspan? This comes from her epic bible of sweets, Baking: From My Home To Yours. I adore almond biscotti. They go equally well with coffee or tea (or directly from the cooling rack to your mouth) and the simple flavors let you enjoy your beverage and the biscuit together. These biscotti have a New World twist, though. There's cornmeal in the dough, which makes them even more crumbly and delectable than my previous favorite recipe. And then there's the almond extract, which gives you even more wonderful nutty flavor.
Biscotti take some time to make, but they are by no means difficult. The dough comes together just like any other cookie dough, only slightly stickier. Simply shape it into logs, bake, slice and bake again. These just may be my favorite type of cookie for no other reason than you get a whole lot of cookies with very little effort. No rolling and cutting, no scooping, no waiting for the dough to chill. Are they the original slice and bake cookie? I think so.
The recipe doesn't instruct you to toast your almonds before incorporating them, but the first time I made almond biscotti, I used raw nuts and found that they didn't get as browned as I would have liked. Toasting them first gives them all that rich, nutty flavor and crunchy texture that makes nuts worth eating in the first place. I'll make a confession right here: I toast every nut in nearly every application and recipe I make. The only exception is if they're going into a cake and they're getting ground into a flour before baking. Every other time, I toast.
One other adjustment I made to the recipe is that I baked my biscotti about ten minutes per side to give them a nice golden color. The side that has contact with the pan browns more (obviously) so I flipped them and baked them until they were the color I was looking for.
I hope you try making your own biscotti and that you love them as much as I do. There will be more biscotti variations to follow and much, much more from Dorie's Baking cookbook. The next treat might be madeleines. I've always wanted to try those and now that I finally bought myself the pan, they're the next recipe to check off my To Bake list.
Lenox Almond Biscotti
adapted slightly from Baking: From My Home to Yours
makes about 30
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. almond extract
3/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cornmeal. In the bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth, 3 minutes. Add eggs and beat, scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes, until light and smooth. Beat in almond extract. Add dry ingredients and blend just until flour is incorporated.
Scrape out half of dough onto one side of baking sheet and use a spatula and/or lightly floured fingers to mold into a log 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Be careful to keep the dough narrow at this point because it will spread during baking. Repeat with rest of dough. Bake 15 minutes, until logs are light golden and firm to the touch. Move to cooling rack and cool 30 minutes. Keep oven on.
Using a spatula, move one log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, trim ends and slice into 3/4 inch-wide slices. Place cookies back on baking sheet, cut side down. Repeat with other log. (All biscotti should fit on one large baking sheet- you can place them fairly close together since they won't spread). Bake 10 minutes, turn biscotti over and bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on racks and store in an air-tight container.