On one of our first dates, Dave and I drove two hours into Chicago to see one of his favorite musicians perform. It was a great night, one that moved our relationship from “so far, so good…” to “holy smokes this is going well.” At the beginning of every song, Dave would whisper in my ear that this one was his favorite. On the way home, we missed our exit not once, but twice, for which I still tease Dave. Fortunately, he had thought ahead and brought along some almond biscotti from his favorite bakery. It was one of my first times eating biscotti, and certainly the first time I gave it an honest chance.
It was good. I was surprised, always having likened biscotti to sweetened stale bread. But even though I enjoyed it that night, and Dave has asked me to make it several times in the past six years, I’d only bothered to once, and I sent that batch off to a friend. Dave still requested it, and I still said “yeah, of course, when I get around to it.” Deb finally convinced me that it was time with her recently published almond biscotti recipe.
And this recipe was worth getting out of my too-lazy-to-make-biscotti- for-my-boyfriend-then-fiance-then-husband habit. The biscotti are crunchy, but not rock hard. Sweet but not cloying. The almonds are a noticeable and satisfying addition.
The recipe is also adaptable. After the success I had with the almond variety, I wanted to try other flavors. I looked for good biscotti recipes on epicurious, but couldn’t find one that sounded good and had good reviews. So I decided to make the same base recipe I had before, but with different flavorings. I used dried cherries and hazelnuts, and it worked great.
Deb calls this recipe a hole in one, and I have to agree. Tasty, crunchy, straightforward, and adaptable – this recipe has it all.
Almond Biscotti (adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1999, as copied from Smitten Kitchen)
Deb note: They’re supposed to make 3 dozen, but my batch yielded at least 45.
Bridget note: The second time I skipped the egg white wash, and I recommend using it. I also substituted 1 cup of hazelnuts (toasted and chopped) and 1 cup of dried cherries for the almonds, and reduced the orange liqueur by half. Also, my biscotti tended to be a little browner than I wanted, so I recommend reducing the baking times in the last step to 11 minutes on one side and 7 on the other.
3¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped or sliced almonds
1 large egg white
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, orange liqueur and zest in large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in almonds.
Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13½-inch-long, 2 ½-inch-wide log. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each dough log.
Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into ½-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.
Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.