My dear friend Heather had her birthday this past week. She’s been completely consumed with a move between homes and was going to postpone, if not completely ignore, her birthday this year. But it’s been a difficult past year for her and I thought she needed to celebrate the new beginning. I wanted to make her some sort of great cake, but as she was in the midst of this move, I decided something far more practical was needed. Cookies were out as they just weren’t special enough. Finally, I thought of biscotti. I’d never made it before, although I was a huge fan of my father’s unorthodox creations whilst growing up.
So, I read through a variety of recipes and decided to start with the most basic, the most traditional version I could find… and dip it in gorgeous, nutty chocolate to make it at least look decadent.
The results are completely satisfactory and decently moreish. Super crunchy until dipped in tea, at which time it instantaneously becomes a warm, soppy mess. It lacks any particular flavour apart from the chocolate, which I suppose could be a good thing if special, flavourful teas were to be paired with it.
However, I look forward to refining this. Anise would be the perfect inclusion for even a basic version, though as it (anise) seems to be an unusual item to find in the UK, I may not be able to refine this basic recipe this week. But in terms of expansion, I’d also like to try an apricot & currant version. Chocolate doesn’t seem to appeal to me too much, when it comes to biscotti. Astounding, considering how much I love chocolate ordinarily!
Regardless, I’m super excited to have biscotti enter my world of awareness. Considering how long it can stay fresh — months, if sealed properly! — I’ll certainly be keeping some in stock forevermore. Of course, my eating through the stock may always be a problem.
- ½ c whole almonds
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract
- ½ t almond extract
- 2¼ c plain flour
- 1½ t baking powder
- ¼ t nutmeg
- ¼ t salt
- Preheat oven to 160ºC / 325º F. Bake almonds in any shallow pan (your baking sheet will do) 8-10 min, until golden brown. Put aside to cool.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract. If you've used a stand mixer, then pour this mixture as best you can into a larger bowl. It's going to be very, very sticky.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking power, nutmeg and salt.
- Get 2 baking sheets out, and line them with parchment paper. (If you're using a super huge oven, one larger baking sheet will do.)
- Flour your hands, and add the dry mix slowly to the wet mix. If your hands begin to get too sticky, add a bit of flour. If your hands get really, really sticky, wash them off before continuing. Do not overwork.
- As soon as the dry mix has been incorporated in the wet, cut the dough in half. Take one dough piece and place it on the readied baking sheet. Press firmly down so that the dough is roughly 2cm deep and about 30cm long. The longer and thinner it is, the less likely the pieces will be to break later. Repeat with the other, ensuring that if they are on the same sheet, that a good couple of inches are in between them.
- Bake 25 min. Remove trays from oven and place biscotti logs on a cooling tray for about 5min. Keep the baking sheets out — we'll use them again in a moment.
- Put biscotti logs on a cutting board and cut diagonally at a 45º angle, using a serrated knife. The angle is optional, but gives that nice, authentic touch.
- Lay all the slices on their sides on the baking sheets, so that the sides can crisp up. Bake 10 min. Remove from oven, turn everything over to their other sides, and bake a final 10 min. Let cool on rack.
- If wanting to dip in chocolate and roll in nuts, read on. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or microwave. Whilst it is doing so, pulverise 2-3 handfuls of nuts. Put the nuts in a shallow bowl. (Make sure the nuts are as pulverised to be as dusty as possible; otherwise the heavier, roughly chopped nuts will fall away from the chocolate dip.). Pour the melted chocolate into a narrow, tall glass and dip the cooled biscotti on in. Roll the chocolate portion of the biscotti in the nuts, and place them on the baking sheets and cool in the fridge.