Biscotti baked with Twice the Love!
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
One of my favorite decadent treats is biscotti. They are easy to make and tasty! They pair brilliantly with both coffee and dessert wines. They keep well and don't need to be refrigerated. They are crunchy and light. They have a sophisticated simplicity. What more needs to be said, to convince you that these should become your "go to" indulgence.
What is Biscotti?
Biscotto is an Italian cookie (biscotti are plural), and Latin for twice-cooked ... or in this case, twice-baked to be more accurate. It is also called cantucci, by Italians. These originated as almond biscuits in the Tuscan town of Prato, in the 14th c, as almond groves were abundant in that region ... therefore, also known as Biscotti di Prato. Interestingly the concept of a "twice baked" cookie is not unique to Italy. Because they were sturdy, resistant to mold and the ideal food to store, other nationalities adopted the twice-baked concept, which led to the British hardtack, the German zwieback, the French croquets de carcassonne, the Ashkenazi Jewish mandelbrot, the Greek paximathakia, the Moroccan fekkas or the Ukrainian kamishbrot. These are just a few of the names of twice-baked cookies enjoyed throughout the world. It is a theme that has been replicated in many cultures and is defined more by the baking technique than a particular recipe. Despite variations in flavorings, they are all produced by making a sticky dough, shaping it into logs, baking the logs until firm, letting them cool, cutting the logs into slices, and then baking them again to extract the moisture ... the ultimate result being a crispy, crunchy cookie!
What flavor variations exist?
Biscotti is originally an almond-flavored twice-baked cookie. That is the recipe that I make most commonly and will share with you below. However, other flavor variations exist with the inclusion of anise, orange, cranberry, pistachio, walnut, chocolate, sesame, lemon, raisin, date, ginger, hazelnut, vanilla, coconut to name a few. The incorporated fat can also vary from butter to olive oil to canola oil, to none at all.
So, how do I make them?
I have experimented with several different recipes and ultimately decided on this one as my favorite. It is called 'Nonna's Biscotti' by Toni Oltranti. I made a few modifications to that recipe, using less sugar, different kinds of alcohol, and omitting the added step of separately toasting the almonds in the oven. I have been making the recipe below for many years.
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp brandy or rum or Cointreau
2 tsp. pure Almond extract
1 tsp. pure Vanilla extract
1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
2 - 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 - 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Stir together sugar, softened butter, alcohol, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Stir in coarsely chopped almonds and fork-beaten eggs. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined into a sticky dough. Don't over mix. Once you have a formed dough, divide it into two balls. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Putting it into the refrigerator relaxes the gluten and makes the logs easier to shape.
Preheat oven to 350 F, with rack in the middle.
Place a silicon sheet or parchment paper on your cookie sheet. Using slightly moistened hands, form each ball into a log measuring about 16" x 2" on the large baking sheet.
Bake about 32 minutes, on the middle rack of the oven, until pale golden color. Remove from oven and carefully transfer loaves to a drying rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
Cut the loaves diagonally into 1" slices with a serrated knife.
Arrange the cut biscotti slices with the cut side down on the baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes and then flip each one and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Transfer the biscotti to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature. You can see from the photos below that they don't linger in storage for too long! Lol!
Ready to serve!
The biscotti are very versatile. In Italy, biscotti are typically paired with and dipped into Vin Santo dessert wine. This makes for a decadent dessert and can be combined with dark chocolate or fresh fruit. Biscotti also pair nicely with coffee or hot tea, as a breakfast or mid-day accompaniment. In an airtight container, the biscotti will store for a few weeks ... if they even last that long in your kitchen! Enjoy this delicious treat. Try it and let me know how it works for you in the comments section below.