Mmm... biscotti!

2.27.2010


The tasty little “twice-baked” cookie you might purchase at Starbuck’s actually has an interesting past.  Long ago, before the days of Grande Triple-Shot No-Whip Non-Fat Mochas and Extra-Hot Tall Skinny Hazelnut Lattes, biscotti were made to accompany wine.  Vin Santo, to be exact - a semi-sweet dessert wine.  These crunchy little dunkables were also carried by Roman soldiers.  Their dry texture lends itself to a long “shelf life” so soldiers didn’t have to worry about moldy bread. 

Over the last year and a half or so, I’ve perfected the art of the twice-baked cookie.  Have you ever noticed that the non-homemade biscotti from your local coffee shop tend to get very soggy when you dip?  The key to great texture is no fat.  Literally.  No oil, no butter, nada.  Enjoy!



What You Need:
 2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped almonds (toasted are the best!)
Mixing bowl
Rubber spatula
Cooking spray (Pam for Baking)
Whisk or Hand Mixer
Baking sheet

What To Do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray the baking sheet with cooking   spray. 

2. Beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and almond extract until creamy. The mixture should look a little bit like pancake batter.

3. Lower the speed on the mixer or switch to whisk.  Add the flour and blend gently until it’s incorporated into the dough.  The dough should get pretty dry and crumbly at this point.  Then add the almonds.

4. Transfer the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Shape it into a log about 12-14 inches long and smooth the top.  It should be about an inch thick.  

TIP: Sometimes the dough can be sticky so it helps to put a little flour on your hands before you start to handle it.

5. Bake the dough for about 25 minutes or until it’s a light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes (5 or 10).  Cut the log into 1/2 inch to 1 inch slices. 

TIP: Don’t use a serrated knife.  Slice directly up and down (not in a sawing motion).  Also, if you very lightly dampen the top before you slice, this helps keep the dough from crumbling.

6.  Lower the oven to about 325 degrees.  Line the slices, standing upright, along the baking sheet and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the biscotti are fully cooked, crisp, and golden brown.  Eat ‘em up with some coffee, a latte, an espresso, whatever your caffeine fix desires!

TIP: This recipe makes the traditional almond biscotti but you can change it up very easily.  Sometimes I throw a little orange zest in there for tang.  You can also substitute vanilla extract for the almond extract and go from there.  I've made chocolate-hazelnut (with cocoa powder and hazelnuts), chocolate chip, dried cranberry and pistachio, etc.  Have fun with it!

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