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Biscotti - The Very Best of Cookies

Cooking with love is a joy and a hobby that my husband and I have practiced together for over 40 years of marriage.

Biscotti

Sometimes you run across a recipe that is so wonderful that it becomes your signature. Years and years ago, I tried making a cookie that I had never baked before. The recipe was in Gourmet magazine and was for Biscotti di Greve (almond orange biscuits). Greve is a town in the Chianti wine district near Florence, in Tuscany, Italy. The area is not only famous for wine, but also for its truffles and meat.

According to Dona Meilach in her cookbook, Making Your Own Biscotti and Dunking Delights, "Biscotti date all the way back to Columbus's time when an Italian baker served them with Tuscan wines. From there the idea spread throughout Italy and nearby countries, and eventually each province became known for a particular flavor of biscotti. Traditionally, biscotti (which means 'twice-baked') are almond-flavored, but now they may be chock-full of different nuts [and] dried fruits.....They are lean, light, and adaptable to our healthy-eating lifestyles."

These cookies are thrice-baked and take several hours to make, but are well worth the effort. I make them only once or twice a year because my family likes them so much that we eat too many! I particularly enjoy giving the biscotti as gifts at Christmas. They keep very well and are easy to pack and mail.

The following recipe, which is for the classic biscotti, appears exactly as it did in Gourmet Magazine, but I have provided additional details, a list of necessary equipment, and my own photographs to help you through the process.

I hope that if you like these as much as I do, that you will feel free to experiment with many variations of these delicious confections.

Biscotti di Greve

Preheat oven (I use 2 ovens) to 300 degrees fahrenheit.

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large whole eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

1 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) natural whole almonds, toasted lightly and chopped coarsely

1 large egg for the egg wash ( beat egg and 1 teaspoon water together)

butter for greasing baking sheet

Instructions

Fit the mixer with the paddle. In the bowl of the mixer, blend the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 whole eggs and the egg yolk with the vanilla; add the zest.

With the mixer running, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, beating until a dough is formed. (Note: sometimes I let this sit for a minute or two to absorb the egg mixture, then continue beating). Once the dough has formed, add the chopped almonds.The almonds may not blend in very well, but you can remove the bowl and finish mixing by hand. I toast the almonds by putting them in a jelly roll pan under the broiler for a few minutes, turning them as necessary. Do NOT leave the almonds for even a minute. They burn very easily. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. ( Wax paper works well to protect the counter and facilitate clean-up). Knead the dough several times and halve it. Working with floured hands on a large buttered and floured baking sheet, form the dough into 2 flattish logs. These will be approximately 12 inches long and 2 or 3 inches wide and should be spaced at least 4 inches apart. You can experiment with how much to flatten the logs....I make them about an inch high. The dough spreads as it bakes.

Brush the logs with the egg wash. This is an important step for taste as well as appearance.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven ( 300 degrees) for 50 minutes and let cool on the baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes.

On a cutting board ( I have dedicated baking sheets and cut right on the sheet), cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into approximately 1/2 inch slices.

Arrange the slices cut sides down on baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn to the other side and cook again for 15 minutes.

Note:Sometimes my oven runs a bit hot, especially if I am making 5 or 6 batches of biscotti the same day. So occasionally I find it necessary to carefully watch the baking toward the end and make time or temperature adjustments.

Remove the biscotti from the baking sheets and cool on racks. Store in airtight containers.

ENJOY!

Equipment

You will need:

  • A heavy duty mixer with a paddle. I suppose you could mix the dough by hand, but I have never tried.
  • Racks for cooling. You could use a spare oven rack.
  • A pastry brush. A paper towel works fine, but the brush is the most efficient tool.
  • A citrus zester. You can use a fine grater, but the zester is a wonderful tool to have. (See photo of ingredients).
  • Cookie sheets. I use insulated sheets with no sides, so that it's easy to slice the logs.
  • A jelly roll pan for toasting the almonds. The sides make it easier to contain the almonds while you are chopping them.
Assembling the ingredients.

Assembling the ingredients.

Chopping the toasted almonds.

Chopping the toasted almonds.

Brushing the 'logs' with an egg wash.

Brushing the 'logs' with an egg wash.

Slicing the slightly cooled logs. The slices in the middle are the longest, due to the angle of the cut.

Slicing the slightly cooled logs. The slices in the middle are the longest, due to the angle of the cut.

The finished product.These biscotti are about 5 1/2 inches long.

The finished product.These biscotti are about 5 1/2 inches long.

Comments

ThriftyisNifty (author) from South Carolina on February 04, 2012:

Thanks so much for your kind remarks! I am an amateur photographer and did much of the photography for my two books, The Private Gardens of Charleston and The Secret Gardens of Charleston.

I am going to make these biscotti again soon, ostensibly to give away, but I know that my family will make a huge dent in them before they leave the house. They are fun to make and I frequently listen to a good book on tape (or cd) while making them. Sometimes I'll clean out a kitchen drawer or cabinet while waiting to turn the biscotti during the 15 minute bakings. Have fun.

amisala on February 03, 2012:

Just preparing to make these!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 14, 2009:

Thumbs up!

ThriftyisNifty (author) from South Carolina on December 11, 2009:

By the way, I need to let all of you know that it takes about 4 hours to make several batches. I do not clean the bowls between batches, which saves lots of time.

I also try all sorts of variations, substituting pecans or walnuts for some of the almonds, adding craisins, raisins, and other dried fruits to equal 1 1/2 cups of nuts/fruit. Sometimes I add rosemary to the walnut biscotti or dip the ends of the almond recipe in melted semi-sweet chocolate.

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on December 10, 2009:

This looks fantastic. Can't wait to try making these!

Duchess OBlunt on December 10, 2009:

Never made biscotti myself, but I sure do love to eat it. I must try this.

Carmen Borthwick from Maple Ridge, B.C. on December 10, 2009:

I was planning on making biscotti this week, glad I came for a visit.

ThriftyisNifty (author) from South Carolina on December 10, 2009:

A tin or box of these makes a lovely gift....I take them as a 'surci' when we make the holiday rounds. Have to package them quickly, though, as my family eats them by the handful!

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on December 10, 2009:

No kidding...I've been looking for a good Biscotti recipe lately. And I came across this today. Thanks. Looks great!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on December 10, 2009:

Looks delicious!

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 10, 2009:

Congrats ThriftyisNifty for having written this great hubnugget.

Maintenant, now first of all let me 'and out a great congratulation. You are a great example to what zhis whole 'ubnuggetry is all about... writing great 'ubs.

Zhe masses have come and voted and zhe winners for zhis week are:

29% How To Prepare A Painting With Gesso by Ben Zoltak

14% When Land Crabs Attack or how not to climb a tree by floatingmind

12% Always Christmas- A Michigan Christmas Wonderland by Amanda108

10% Biscotti- The best of cookies by ThriftyisNifty

10% Timed Portraits by hookah

congrats again kindest regards Zsuzsy

Micky Dee on December 06, 2009:

Thanks for the recipe. I love biscotti. Nice pictures.

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on December 06, 2009:

So yummy. I usually make Chocolate chip biscotti at Christmas, found it on the Kraft Canada website. I might just try this one. I was so surprised as to how easy it is to make biscotti.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on December 04, 2009:

Cook for me, cook for me! LOL Bookmarking your hub to eat delicious biscotti. Congratulations! You are a Hubnugget Wannabe! Yes, munch your way to the Hubnuggets lair and check the juicy details https://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/Oulala-Zhe-B... :) Enjoy biscotti with the Hubnuggets!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on November 26, 2009:

Wow, going to bookmark this - biscotti is so good at Christmas. Your photographs are excellent and the arrangement you made of ingredients looks professional!

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