biscotti

December 13th, 2008 · 34 Comments



may i present to you, my favorite cookie in the world. the biscotto.

(thunderous applause from the blogosphere)

ok, so maybe they’re not typically pretty. no icing or sparkles, sprinkles, jam or chocolate. just a rustic beige looking baked good that i’d take over just about any cookie ever. except perhaps a black and white, but only because somewhere in my dna i’m genetically programmed to love those.

and now, dear readers – for today’s lesson, courtesy of the wikibiscotti, derived from some latin word that means twice baked, were most likely prepared this way so that they could be stored for longer periods of time, particularly useful during journeys or wars.

in america, the italian term "biscotti" has been taken to refer to a specific type of biscuit, derived from tuscan cantucci, a type of hard almond-flavoured biscuits traditionally served with vin santo, probably originating from the town of prato and therefore still known as "biscotti of prato".

ok. class over.
see how we learn together? how beautiful is that?

but before we move on i must make one thing perfectly clear. MY BISCOTTI WILL NEVER EVER CONTAIN ANY BUTTER. because it would quite simply be wrong. i am a firm believer that the moment you add butter to biscotti they turn into a whole different cookie – an imposter. they are then cake-like. they’re crumbly. not crunchy. and they will then have that butter thing going on and listen, i love butter as much as you, if not more – but keep it the hell out of my damn biscotti. are we clear? i hope so because this totally matters to me. so, go ahead and put cream in your carbonara if you must, i can handle that if only barely. but no butter in the biscotti or i will be forced to talk bad about your baking decisions.

on a lighter note, every year angela and i have a tradition of getting together and baking biscotti. it’s this thing we’ve done for quite some time now although lately it translates into her doing all the work and me pouring the wine while giving my opinion as to how it should all be done and why. anyway, we have a recipe that we’ve used over time that we’ve honed – and it’s quite good. we’ve also tended towards over toasting them which makes them quite hard. but if you’re inclined to dunk, they’re perfect that way.

angela and claudia’s famous biscotti
(eat at your own dental risk)
3 3/4 cups ap flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups almonds, whole – toasted
1 cup chopped candied ginger pieces – optional
melted chocolate for dipping – optional

toast almonds about 12 minutes or until fragrant at 350f on baking sheets – single layer… keep an eye on them. 

in the bowl of an electric mixer (or not) fitted with the paddle attachment blend the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt until the mixture is combined well. In a small bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, the vanilla and the almond extract, add the mixture to the flour mixture, beating until a dough is formed, and stir in the almonds.

turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead it several times, and divide it into fourths. Working on 2 large floured baking sheets, with floured hands form each piece of dough into a flattish log 11 inches long and 2 inches wide, arrange the logs at least 3 inches apart on the sheets.

bake the logs in a preheated 350f oven for about 30 minutes and let them cool on the baking sheets for at least 15 minutes. on a cutting board, cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2" inch slices, arrange the biscotti cut sides down on the baking sheets, and bake them in a 300f oven for 10 minutes on each side, or until they are pale golden. transfer the biscotti to racks to cool.

but – our recipe is not the biscotti pictured. because this year, we used the biscotti recipe that i had found on the babbo website. it’s quite similar to ours, but this was gina depalma’s version… and well, i respect the hell out of gina depalma. so we gave her version below a go and it was excellent.

almond biscotti
adapted from
babbo ristorante – by gina depalma

gina’s recipe calls for 6 cups of nuts which is how they’re pictured above. but when i made them a second time i brought it down to 4 cups. it really just depends on how you want them. both quantities work. i also omitted the anise seed, using other add-ins. one log had candied ginger, one had candied citron peel and another had candied orange peel. we left the 4th plain.

3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbl. amaretto
4 cups coarsely chopped whole almonds

in a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
in a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until light, about 2 minutes; the mixture will look somewhat curdled. beat in the vanilla and amaretto. beat in the dry ingredients, then the chopped nuts.

preheat the oven to 325 degrees. lightly grease two heavy cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper. divide the dough into four portions. on a lightly floured board, shape each portion into a flat log, just about the length the cookie sheet. place two rolls on each cookie sheet. bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the logs are lightly golden brown, firm to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly.

allow the logs to cool on the cookie sheet until cool to the touch, about 40 minutes. reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees. with a serrated knife, slice the biscotti, slightly on the bias, into ½-inch slices. lay the slices on the cookie sheets in single layer; return the biscotti to the oven and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the biscotti are toasted and crisp.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
the ginger version is our automatic annual biscotti. sometimes we half dip them in chocolate, sometimes we don’t. the citron really needed some lemon zest and in place of the amaretto, limoncello would work nicely here to brighten them up a bit. the citron kind of got lost amidst the vanilla extract and the amaretto. angela swore that the candied orange peel biscotti tasted like fruit loops and well, i’m not sure what to say about that except that she was thinking that was a bonus and i was hoping it wasn’t so.

as for me, i loved them all.

but again, these are my kind of cookie…

Tags: baking · greens

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 google world wide web | Digg hot tags // Dec 13, 2008 at 7:23 am

    [...] Vote biscotti [...]

  • 2 Diana // Dec 13, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Damn, that’s one nutty cookie. I love the way they look – like beige clouds. I have candied ginger in the pantry. I must try.

  • 3 Robert // Dec 13, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Fret,

    Sitting here drinking my coffee. No Biiscotti.

    Sigh……….

  • 4 Donald // Dec 13, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Gotta dunk! No dunk makes too much of a crunch.

    Being from Philly, I know a good biscot! Looks like you have one here.

  • 5 maggie (p&c) // Dec 13, 2008 at 10:56 am

    These look lovely. I’ve never made biscotti but now I’m tempted…

  • 6 We Are Never Full // Dec 13, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    hell YEAH claudia! you school ‘em! no butter in a (as donald says, and i say the philly way) biscot! hells no…

    great post. now i’m going to bust out my vin santo to dunk some in.

  • 7 cookiecrumb // Dec 13, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    All those almonds! That’s tha shizz.

  • 8 The Italian Dish // Dec 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Gorgeous biscotti. And you are absolutely right about the butter. No butter, no way, in biscotti.

  • 9 democommie // Dec 13, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Claudia:

    I am trying to learn Italian AND the metric system, simultaneously. Could you help me out by sending me 5 kilos of biscotti (2 kilos of each of the four types) and a couple of bottles of grappa? I can eat some biscotti (weighing them as I do so) and drink some of the grappa and I’m sure that I’ll be speaking some foreign language within a day or two.

  • 10 democommie // Dec 13, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Claudia:

    I thought you might like to know that there’s “government cheese” for the poor people, and then there’s government cheese. Velveeta, this ain’t!

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/11/ap/strange/main4663251.shtml

    courtesy of “no blood for hubris” blog:

    http://nobloodforhubris.blogspot.com/

    oh, yeah, I forgot to say that weighing the biscotti will help me with my math and conversion for metric weights.

  • 11 Julie // Dec 13, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Uh-oh. I was just thinking about using a recipe that has hazelnuts and chocolate. That’s probably imposter biscotti, huh? Off to see if it has butter too. (BTW, baking cookies every year with a friend sounds like a good tradition.)

  • 12 Vincent // Dec 13, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    my kind of cookie too gorgeous – i hope to talk soon. the thanksgiving post was great as well – ttys

    much love

  • 13 Chris // Dec 13, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Drool…..!

  • 14 noble pig // Dec 13, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Oh pass me the black coffee and I’ll dunk…my teeth can be fixed…I can handle it. Beautiful and what a great tradition.

  • 15 Best recipes from around the web » cook eat FRET - biscotti // Dec 14, 2008 at 8:38 am

    [...] A fellow blogger wrote a fantastic post today on “cook eat FRET – biscotti”Here’s ONLY a quick extractbut – our recipe is not the biscotti pictured. because this year, we used the biscotti recipe that i had found on the babbo website. it’s quite similar to ours, but this was gina depalma’s version… and well, i respect the hell out of … [...]

  • 16 Kristie // Dec 14, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Fruit Loop biscotti? Well bless my soul! Here I thought biscotti would always be too grown up for me to appreciate. I prefer to be bitch-slapped by sugar, rather than tapped on the shoulder with a delicate “how do you do?” Nice job.

  • 17 Abby @ mangerlaville // Dec 14, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Now I figured out why I don’t like many biscottis that people make for me, because they use butter and it makes them crumbly cake like. I like a nice crisp one. These look delicious. When I first saw it, I thought it was torrone (my favorite thing), and I freaked, but biscotti is a sure nice way to settle.

  • 18 zenchef // Dec 14, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Your biscotti is zee most beautiful, ever!
    Although, I think i will wait a few days since i had a root canal yesterday. hehe

    I agree with you, no butter in biscotti, no cream in carbonara.. NEVER! I would make a ruthless foodictator. :-)

  • 19 Marc @ NoRecipes // Dec 14, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Looks delicious. I love how there’s more nut than cookie. And about the butter, I agree. Oh and as for cream in a carbonara that’s tantamount to putting mayonnaise in a risotto IMHO.

  • 20 Melissa // Dec 14, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Any version you gave a go I’m sure was excellent. I just started liking biscotti and feel like I was missing out.

    And I don’t put cream in my carbonara. No. Sorry Michael.

  • 21 lisaiscooking // Dec 15, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I trust and therefore I will try the no butter route! They look fantastic.

  • 22 Peter // Dec 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Biscotti always make me think of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-oxsMl3iCA

    You’re welcome.

  • 23 Peter // Dec 15, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Biscotti should be hard…that’s what makes them so enjoyable for dipping, no? I like the liberal use of nuts here.

  • 24 Brittany // Dec 15, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    For reals. NO f’ing butter. How the hell do you dunk when your biscotti (or “not-biscotti”) is all soft and shortbread like?
    Biscotti is for soaking up copious amounts of sweet wine, or strong coffee. Thats why it’s awesome.
    Now I want some.

  • 25 Randee M // Dec 15, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    scumptious Claudia. Perfection for sure :)

  • 26 chefectomy // Dec 15, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    It wouldn’t necessarily suck to have this with Vin Santo…

  • 27 claudia // Dec 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    chefectomy – a decent vin santi is about $50 for a half bottle – and go how I love the stuff…

    randee! thank you. now go make some!

    brittany – but i want bread pudding… see how life can be so unfair…

    peter – liberal is an understatement

    lisa – go make them… too easy

    melissa – yes, go tell michael! i did and he said marcella said it was ok. but i dunno…

    to everyone else
    tis the season to make biscotti

    get on it!

  • 28 Joanna // Dec 16, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Omit anise? E un gran peccato!
    I’ve been looking for a good biscotti recipe – without the butter – and so shall give this a whirl – con anise!
    Thank you Claudia!

  • 29 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Dec 16, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Those nuts! Those beautiful nuts! Those look so wonderful – particularly with all of those nuts! I’m cool with the lack of butter if you give me lots of nuts.

    Kudos for you for knowing that biscotto is the singular of biscotti.

  • 30 claudia // Dec 16, 2008 at 9:45 am

    joanna – then sub anisette for the ameretto, ok?

    rachel – yes because that way we don’t disturb the fat content…. and we wouldn’t wanna go and do that…

  • 31 Laurie Hawel // Dec 16, 2008 at 11:57 am

    “bis” = “again,” “cotto” = “cooked.” Therefore:
    “cooked again.” The loveliest cookie of them all.

  • 32 Sara // Dec 18, 2008 at 12:09 am

    These look great, I haven’t made biscotti in ages!

  • 33 Marie // Dec 19, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Nice and nutty! Great looking biscotti Claudia!
    I want some with my lonely cup of coffee right now!

  • 34 Sophie // Jan 14, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I usually take biscotti over cookies, too; they’re so perfect for dipping! These look hearty and yummy and crunchy!

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