Cook the Book: Almond Biscotti

[Flickr: babe_kl]

20091130-cookieman.jpgAs we bravely venture into our fourth week of December cookie extravaganza, my sweet tooth is telling me we need to take a breather. A steady diet of cookies might seem ideal, but after a whopping three consecutive weeks of baking, cookies aren't sounding as appealing. So today I am sharing one that's slightly less indulgent but certainly no less delicious.

Biscotti are twice-baked cookies, light on the sugar and heavy on the crunch. They have become coffee shop staples that unfortunately are more of a dry afterthought than something to relish. If you've never experienced the little slices of joy that are home-baked biscotti, then you really have to try this recipe for Almond Biscotti from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.

The almond-studded and scented dough is formed into low loaves and bakes in the oven until the outside is firm and crisp, while the inside remains soft and just slightly underdone. The loaves are taken out of the oven, cooled slightly, then sliced on the diagonal and sent back in for a final bake.

The finished biscotti emerge just barely browned, crunchy, and thankfully nothing like those sad coffee shop specimens. These homemade biscotti have layers of crunch and softness, and a wonderful crumb.

You can make endless variations with this dough too: fennel or anise seeds are a great addition for licorice fans, any type of nut (particularly pistachios or hazelnuts), chocolate, dried fruit, candied citrus peel or ginger—honestly if you have it sitting on your baking shelf, it would probably make a great addition to a batch of homemade biscotti.

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Cook the Book: Almond Biscotti

About This Recipe

Yield:about 3 dozen cookies
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh orange zest (optional)

Procedures

  1. 1

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

  2. 2

    In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extracts until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

  3. 3

    Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the almonds and zest (if using) until just incorporated.

  4. 4

    Press the dough into two 13- by 2-inch loaves on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 3 inches apart. Bake the loaves until golden and just beginning to crack at the top, about 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking.

  5. 5

    Let the loaves cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F.

  6. 6

    Transfer the loaves to a cutting board and slice each on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through the baking. Transfer the biscotti spices to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving, about 1 hour.

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