Sunday, December 26, 2010

Almond Biscotti

Looking at biscotti, you would never be able to tell how it’s made. And until recently, I just accepted the fact that it was a treat only to be enjoyed at fancy coffee shops, unreachable to us mere mortals who gladly shell out a few bucks for the crispy Italian cookie. Even after reading through recipes for it, the prospect of making biscotti still seemed daunting, I mean, anything that requires 3 trips into the oven must be difficult to make. But with the encouragement from my workout buddy MC, I was up for the challenge.

Though MC suggested a delicious sounding chocolate-walnut version, I was fearing that I was in danger of surpassing my family’s taste for chocolate treats. There can be too much of a good thing. Instead, I chose a classic, simple, unadulterated almond type from allrecipes (of course) (the original). I halved the recipe and ended up with 40 biscotti, just the right amount for Christmas dinner dessert and other guests we have passing by this week.
MC was right, it really wasn’t that difficult at all  to make. I wasn’t sure how much 4oz of almonds would be in terms of cups and spoons so I just added in a cup. The biscotti were a bit on the almond-y side, so 3/4 cup of almonds should suffice next time. I also didn’t have any anise extract but they still tasted delicious. I only had medium eggs on hand so I replaced the prescribed 3 large with 4 medium. And for some reason, we were either out of baking powder (or I just couldn’t find it), so I replaced it with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (the internet told me that’s what I should do).
The almonds we had at home were raw, which means I had to roast them myself. This was pretty easy as I looked up some instructions online. I spread them out on a cookie sheet, sprayed them with a bit of cooking spray and stuck them in the oven (which was already preset to 350F) until they smelled…roasted?  In hindsight, I probably over-roasted them a bit. But they weren’t burnt so that’s ok.
Since I couldn’t fit all the biscotti onto a single cookie sheet, I had to place the two cookie sheets on the upper and lower rack of the oven. This resulted in the bottoms of one batch burning a bit while they were toasting (oven trip #2), so I’ll be sure to alternate them more frequently next time.
I also melted a few white chocolate moulding wafers (little disks of chocolate) and drizzled the tops of some of them, which looked quite nice. Everyone who’s tried them so far say that they taste just like the real thing, so all in all, I’d say this was a pretty successful first attempt at biscotti.
Almond Biscotti
Yield: 40 Biscotti
  • 1/3 cup + a bit (i.e. Half of 3/4 cup) butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 medium (or 3 large) eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract (I didn’t put any but I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (I used 1/2 tsp baking soda)
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted almonds (or whatever 4oz is)
  • 20 white chocolate moulding wafers (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time; beat until fluffy. Stir in the anise and vanilla extracts. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; Add them to the egg mixture along with the chopped almonds. Stir with a spoon and as the dough comes together, Knead by hand.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 parts. Roll each piece into a log about 15 inches long. Place logs onto cookie sheets, 2 to a sheet, the long way. Flatten the logs out until they are about 3 inches wide with a slight hump going down the middle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, loaves should be firm. Cut the loaves into diagonal slices 1/2 inch wide, place the slices onto the cookie sheets and return to the oven. Toast on one side, then turn them over to do the other side. This will take about 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool completely
  5. Melt chocolate in a small ziploc bag in the microwave ~20-30 seconds, snip off corner and drizzle over biscotti
Almond roasting instructions, if needed
  1. Spread almonds onto a cookie sheet in a single layer
  2. Lightly spray with cookie spray
  3. Bake in 350F oven for ~5 minutes (until the ‘look’ and smell roasted)
  4. Allow to cool slightly and chop
Per cookie (without drizzle):
80 calories | 3.75g sugar | 3.5g fat

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