Saturday, April 6, 2013

Almond Biscotti

Almond Biscotti

Author: Jim Hacker
Bravo biscotti! These twice baked cookies are ubiquitous in Italy and have fast become a staple in better coffee shops in the United States. Traditionally in Tuscany Italians favor them as coffee dipping cookies, but they are also submerged into wine and served as partners to rich and creamy gelato or a as a late night snack with hot chocolate.
Nothing is quite as satisfying as dunking a shatteringly crisp homemade biscotti into a rich aromatic cup of coffee. These twice baked cookies are to dunking what Michael Jordan is to basketball. I'll share a recipe that is free of added fat, the only fat is in the almonds.
Biscotti made without added fat cook up more crisp than ones made with butter, which tend to be a little crumbly. I much prefer biscotti baked without butter because I prefer my biscotti on the crisp side, but this is personnel preference. This recipe can be adapted to several other fruit and nut combination's.
Let's get started...
Literally, biscotti, bis meaning "more than one" and cotto meaning "cooking". This is accomplished by rolling the dough into logs and baking, then removing them from the oven, slicing into cookies and baking a second time to dry out and crisp the cookies. In an air tight container these cookies will stay fresh for a month or more.
Some consider Biscotti di Prato the quintessential biscotti and that's the recipe below.
Biscotti di Prato
3/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Toasting the almonds intensifies the flavors.
2 cups all purpose flour
7/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Add egg mixture and almonds to flour mixture and stir to combine. Make sure there are no dry spots of flour, but do not over mix. (Note: toasting nuts before using them in baking intensifies the flavor to such an extent that it is well worth the extra few minutes needed for toasting)
Shape  into a log that is 13-14" long, 2 1/2" wide and 1" high. Transfer to a sheet pan and bake at 300 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly and transfer to a wire rack and let cool 5-10 minutes.
With a serrated knife slice diagonally at a 45 degree angle into 1/2" thick slices. Lay the slices flat on a cookie sheet and return to a 275 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn off oven, flip biscotti and return to the oven and bake the other side for 30 minutes or until the oven has cooled completely.
Variations: Use toasted pine nuts or hazelnuts. Try adding 1 teaspoon minced lemon zest, or 1/2 cup or any dried fruit mixture.
Remember...homemade just tastes better.
Buon Apetito!

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