Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti
Photo: Kara Stewart
Who doesn’t love a fun Christmas cookie exchange party? If you are attending one this holiday season, try this fool-proof biscotti recipe. This recipe is one from an exchange party I attended several years ago at my friend’s house. It is her mother-in-law’s recipe for Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti. These are chock-full of toasted whole almonds and so fragrant from the orange zest. The biscotti has my vote for the best dunking cookie, whether dunked in a glass of dessert wine or port, or a mug of steaming hot chocolate or coffee.
Biscotti have been around many years and the name is from the Latin biscoctus, meaning “twice-baked,” since they are baked twice in the oven. They are easy to make, and the more you make them, you’ll develop a feel for the dough and the texture. Once you get the hang of making biscotti, adapt this recipe for a festive Christmas biscotti. You can replace the almonds with pistachios and add dried cranberries. Try dipping them in chocolate for a nice addition.
3 cups whole almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange (about 1 -2 tsp)
one egg, lightly beaten for brushing tops of loaves
1 | Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large sheets with parchment paper.
2 | Place almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3 | In a large bowl, mix by hand the toasted almonds, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder and flour.
4 | In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add the vanilla and orange zest and whisk until well blended. Add to the flour mixture. Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky; keep squeezing the batter with your hands until dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into four equal pieces.
5 | On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough, and using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 3/4 of an inch high. Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Place two logs on each baking sheet.
6 | Bake for 40 minutes, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing. Place a loaf on a cutting board, and using a large serrated knife, slice cookies ¾-inch thick on the diagonal. If the cookie is crumbling, let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice. Place slices on their sides back on the baking sheets; place in the still warm oven with the temperature off and the door closed for 30-60 minutes. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they will become. Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container, preferably a tin, which helps keep them crisp. Stored properly, biscotti will last up to a month, but good luck with that…my guess is that you won’t have any biscotti left after about three days.
Prep & Cooling Time: 1 – 1 ½ hour; Bake Time: 1 hr, 10 mins – 1 hr, 40 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs, 40 mins – 3 hrs, 10 mins