What do you get when you combine a pound of softened butter, 12 cups of flour, a dozen eggs, 9 cups of sliced almonds, along with a good amount of sugar, a dash of baking powder, and some pure vanilla extract? A huge bowl of dough, which with a sturdy wooden spoon and a lot of patience, eventually is transformed into dozens of almond biscotti.
I've been making biscotti twice year - for Thanksgiving and Christmas - for at least a decade. The running joke is that if I ever showed up on Thanksgiving day without a box of biscotti, I'd be run out of town on the next rail. A few years ago, right before my sister-in-law Nora showed up, I hid the biscotti, leaving just a few crumbs on the big cookie plate. I tried to convince her that we had eaten all the cookies, but with a big smile on her face, and just a hint of fear in her eyes, she finally talked me into retrieving the hidden stash so she could enjoy a pre-dinner cookie.
These cookies aren't hard to make -- they just take time. I usually make a weekend-long project of it: bake the loaves on Friday night, cut the loaves into slices and bake them on Saturday, and then recruit Peter to help me dip the baked slices into melted dark chocolate on Sunday. And when I make a batch, I sextuple the recipe, multiplying the quantity of each ingredient by six. (Yes, there is math involved.)
I think I clipped this recipe from The Boston Globe, and over the years, I've tinkered with adding different kinds of nuts or using white instead of dark chocolate for dipping. But I've come to the conclusion that I like the original recipe best. The standard recipe appears below: you'll have to do your own math if you want to double, triple, or sextuple your yield.
Two tips: Years of experience have taught me to use those silicone baking pads on my cookie sheets - there's a good amount of butter in the recipe and the cookies tend to brown too quickly if I don't use them. And when you're slicing the logs, use a serrated knife. A regular, straight-edged kitchen knife will cause your cookies to crumble, and well, that's the way the cookie crumbles.
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups sliced almonds
- semi-sweet chocolate chips
- vegetable shortening
- Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy.
- Add one cup of the flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and vanilla and stir until mixed well.
- Add remaining one cup of flour and almonds and stir until mixed well. (I use my hands - it's easier because the dough gets really sticky.)
- Divide the two in two, and shape each half into a 9-inch log on a silicone pad covered cookie sheet. The log should be about 1.5 inches wide. (You can put the two logs on the same cookie sheet.)
- Bake the logs for about 25 minutes at 375 degrees until they have started to brown. Let cool for at least 1/2 hour.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the logs into 1/2 inch slices. Bake the slices on the silicone pad covered cookie sheets at 325 degrees for 7-8 minutes, and then flip them over and bake for about 5 minutes. Keep watch of the cookies, checking them every few minutes, and turning them as necessary so that each side of each cookie gets lightly browned and crisp. (This is the time-consuming part.)
- When completely cooled, it's time to dip. I melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with a tablespoon or so of vegetable shortening, in the microwave in 20-second intervals. When melted, dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate and place onto your silicone pad or foil covered cookie sheet so the chocolate can set. You can speed this process by putting the cookie sheet into the fridge for about 10-15 minutes.
- Store the cookies in an air-tight container, in layers separated by foil or wax paper.
Loaves of biscotti after the first baking.
Slice the loaves and set the oven to 325 degrees for the second baking.
The slices should be baked on both sides until toasty brown.
Let the slices cool before dipping each one into melted chocolate.
Let the chocolate completely set before storing. Enjoy!