We are having near-hurricane weather here in the Bay Area so I've decided to stay indoors and break in the beautiful new shiny red Kitchen Aid mixer that Barnaby got me for Christmas. Let's hope the power can stay on long enough.
We're visiting a friend in Napa this weekend so I thought I'd whip up a batch of my mom's famous biscotti to take up. Years ago I lived in Siena, Italy and since then I've, admittedly, become a bit of a biscotti snob. The ones you find here in the States, I feel, are just too soft and cakey. My mom's are the only ones I've found that remind me of the teeth-cracking ones in Italy.
The key to the hardness is the second baking (biscotto, singular, actually means "twice baked"). If you wish them to be less hard, then reduce the second bake time. But, if you like to dip yours in cappuccino, or a nice vin santo as they do in Tuscany, then you want them hard.
2 c. flour
1 ¼ c. sugar
2 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
2 whole eggs, plus 1 egg, separated
1 t. almond extract
1 ½ c. whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk, almond extract, and almonds. Mix thoroughly until dough holds together. Add half of reserved egg white, if necessary, to make a cohesive dough.
3. With wet hands, shape dough into 4 logs, each 6” long and 1 ¾“ in diameter. Place 3-4” apart on baking sheets. Bake on middle rack of oven until logs are light golden brown and spring back when touched (about 24 minutes). Cool 15 minutes.
4. Lower oven to 275. Slice logs with a serrated knife diagonally into 1/2” slices. Return to oven and bake until completely dry and crisp throughout (about 40 minutes). Cool.
Makes about 5 dozen.
Variations: 1 t. orange extract, zest of 1 orange with 1-½ c. pistachio nuts.
Can also use pine nuts in place of almonds.
I've not tried these recipes yet, but all three look very good:
Saveur's Prato-Style Cookies (Prato di Biscotti) which includes saffron threads
Babbo pastry chef, Gina DePalma's, Polenta and Sesame Biscotti
Sloane Berrent's Pistachio-Orange Biscotti.