Thursday, December 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by Adridne.

I have some strong opinions about biscotti.
1) They should be hard. We're not making nice little almond cookies here. This is food that fights back. If you can chew them without dipping them in a beverage, you're doing it wrong.
2) They should be filled with almonds. The actual cookie part is really just there to cement the almonds together and carry the almond extract.
3) Actually, I guess I only have two strong opinions about biscotti.

I foolishly left my All New Joy of Cooking in Philly. I wanted to make biscotti to bring up to Maine for Christmas, so I looked for recipes on the internets. This led to Cooking for Engineers, home of my favorite corn fritter recipe. The biscotti recipe was.... okay. I upped the almonds and almond extract, and, in the end, added some impromptu extra liquid. The result:
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp Mocha Caramel cream liqueur*
1 cup whole raw almonds
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Chop the almonds. But not a lot. Chopping each almond into 2 or 3 pieces is about right. If some whole almonds get through, that's fine. Toast them in a toaster oven until they're a bit browned and really fragrant. 400 is about the right temperature.
Cream the sugar and eggs together. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, the liqueur, and the almonds.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the egg mixture. Fold it until it's well mixed. At this point the dough should be really, really sticky. Like you mixed up a batch of plaster using superglue instead of water. You can start mixing it with a fork or a wooden spoon, but I highly suggest finishing it with your hands. It just works better. If the dough isn't sticky, add some liquid 1 tbsp at a time until it gets to the aforementioned plaster/superglue consistency.
You will have a lumpy batch of incredibly sticky dough. Separate it into two halves, and make each one into a loaf about 3 inches wide and an inch thick. This is best achieved on the baking pan. They should be flat little loaves. A sil-pat sheet will really help you out here. Other wise, lightly grease the pans first. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until the loaves are light brown. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. When they're done, let them cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Slice them into 1/2"-3/4" thick pieces, cutting at a slight diagonal. Spread these out on the baking sheet, one cut side up, and bake them at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown on top. Turn them over and bake for another 8-10 minutes until this side is golden brown, too. Let them cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container. They keep for about a month, though in my household they're usually gone in a week or less.
Makes about 25 biscotti.

*When I was making this batch, I finished the dough and it was NOT RIGHT. It was crumbly and dry, like pie crust dough. It is not to panic, thought I. We'll just see what's in the fridge I can use as some extra liquid. Milk? Eh. Chai concentrate? No. Godiva liqueur? Maybe. Mocha Caramel cream liqueur? Hell yes!


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