I think biscotti often finds itself getting a bad rap…since so many people get the single-serve cellophane wrapped kinds found in your local coffee shops. I find a homemade biscotti to be very delightful…eaten fresh out of the oven before it has really crisped up or after a few hours of cooling. Biscotti can also be flavored in so many ways and you can really spice it up. It’s taken me a couple tries to get biscotti just right, but I feel like that I have finally figured out the tricks to make a delicious treat to pair with coffee or tea.
Classic Almond Biscotti
(recipe courtesy of Sur La Table)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (I recommend this kind, but you can sub in vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon anise seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well until each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. Add vanilla and almond extract; mix until well combined.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, anise and salt. Using a measuring cup (exact measurement is unnecessary, it’s just less messy if you scoop out the flour mixture a little at a time!), add flour mixture to the egg mixture, mixing until well combined. Do this is two additions (add half the flour, then mix, then add the other half). Add the almonds and mix just until evenly distributed (don’t over mix).
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather together. HINT: flour your hands as well to help with turning the dough. It’s meant to be a very sticky, moist dough so keeping your hands floured will help a lot. Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a log about the length of your prepared baking sheet. It should be about 2 inches wide. Set the logs on the parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake until light brown and slightly firm to the touch, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
While the biscotti are still warm (but cool enough to touch), use a serrated knife to cut each log into diagonal slices about 2 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. HINT: use a sawing motion and be patient…resist the urge to press down as you are cutting the slices or you will squish the shape of the biscotti. Return the slices, cut side down, to the baking sheet. Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes; gently turn the cookies over halfway through baking (so bake on one side for 3 minutes…the other side for 3 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely.
If you are feeling ambitious, you can melt some chocolate wafers and dip an end of biscotti in chocolate and sprinkle with a little extra chopped almonds for a more decadent treat!