The December to February rush of baking revolving around Christmas cookies and Valentine’s Day treats can leave amateur dessert chefs in a rut once March 1st rolls around. After the months of holidays we associate with many themed sweet treats, it seems suddenly and inexplicably difficult to find an outlet for creative baking energy.
Though they are enjoyable year-round, Italian biscotti are especially good for this time of year. The mere act of flipping a calendar page from February to March might make spring seem somewhat in sight, but let’s face it, we’ll still be sipping chai and hot cocoa more often than smoothies for most of this month. Biscotti are the perfect accompaniments to morning coffee, afternoon tea, or nighttime hot cocoa, and like everything else in the world, they taste better homemade than store-bought. They might conjure images of real-world bakeries and Roman hotels, but biscotti are surprisingly easy to make, the baking process comparable to that of regular cookies. Also like regular cookie baking, whipping up a batch of biscotti can involve more creative additions to the batter or post-baking decorating for more exciting results. Dipping the finished biscotti in melted chocolate and then refrigerating them is a common but not overrated technique. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice to the batter creates a more summery flavor, whereas adding dried cranberries or other dried fruit would make biscotti more wintery days.
The ingredients are simple, not exotic; using regular flour and almond extract is easier than finding almond flour but still gives the end product a distinct flavor, the hints of almond providing a balance to the sugary taste. Sweet but not too sweet, biscotti are perhaps just the right food for those who crave the illusion of dessert for breakfast.
Recipe Source: Real Simple magazine, November 2010.
2 3/4 cups: All-Purpose Flour Spooned & Leveled
1 1/2 Tsps: Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
1 Stick of Unsalted Melted Butter
2 Tsps Pure Almond Extract
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups of Roasted Almonds
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, butter, and almond extract until just smooth. One at a time, beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture and almonds and mix until just incorporated (do not overmix). Refrigerate the dough, covered, until firm enough to handle, 30 to 60 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 350° F. Divide the dough in half and shape into two 12-by-2-inch logs (about ¾ inch thick). Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until just golden around the edges and firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.
Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into ½-inch-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until dry and crisp, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheet. Store the biscotti in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.