Baking & Dessert

By Tara O'Keeffe | April 28, 2011

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

When it comes to biscotti, it’s all about the dip. The sweet and crunchy Italian cookie was made for dipping into coffee and espresso. There is just something about a crunchy cookie turning soft and moist after being dipped that makes these cookies so appealing, just like Oreos and milk.

It’s all about the dunking!

The name “biscotti” originates from a latin phrase meaning “twice-cooked”, and this is because the cookie is first baked in the shape of a log, then sliced and baked again to ensure it gets that nice, crispy texture. Biscotti are traditionally made with almonds but can handle almost any flavor combination you enjoy.

Biscotti after the first bake

This recipe is a spin on the classic cookie, where the sweet flavor of almonds is accented by the bright flavor of orange zest and the subtle, yet critical secret ingredient: an Italian vanilla-flavored leavener. Sold under the brand Paneangeli as Lievito Pane degli Angeli (or bread of the angels), this white powder is a mixture of baking soda with vanilla flavorings and is used to create a number of traditional Italian desserts like panetone, tortes, and biscotti. You can find this product at Italian markets or order it online from Amazon here.

Crunchy, sweet, and packed with almond flavor

Biscotti are the perfect way to start or end your day. Enjoy a cookie with your morning coffee, or as the Italians do, with a glass of sweet Vin Santo after dinner. This recipe is simple enough for even the timid baker and will outshine any store-bought biscotti. Make a batch for your house, or send some to a friend as the perfect gift.

Recipe adapted from Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar of Cooking Channels’ Extra Virgin

Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and author of FunFearlessFoodie.com

Almond and Orange Biscotti Recipe

Servings: Makes 45 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw, unpeeled almonds
  • 2 eggs, plus 1, for glaze
  • 3 egg yolks, plus 1 if needed
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar, plus 2 tbsp, for glaze
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (.5 oz/16 g) package Lievito Pane degu Angeli (vanilla-flavored Italian leavener)
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Toast the almonds on a cookie sheet until fragrant, about 8 minutes, watching to ensure they don't burn.

3. Turn oven up to 350 degrees F.

4. In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, beat 2 eggs, 3 yolks, melted butter, orange zest and 2 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light in color and smooth in texture.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, package of Lievito Pane degu Angeli, and a pinch of salt. Then slowly, one spoonful at the time, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until the dough forms and starts to come away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. The dough should not be too wet, if it crumbles, add an extra egg yolk to bind the ingredients.

6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the almonds by hand.

7. Butter 2 cookie sheets and, using your hands, separate the dough in two equal parts. Stretch each piece of dough into a long cylinder, about 2-inches thick and 8-inches long, and place on each sheet.

8. In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons sugar and one egg, then with a pastry brush glaze the cookie dough evenly and place the sheets in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and it has expanded by at least half in size. Remove from the oven and rest on a cooling rack for 1 hour. Using a bread knife, slice the cookies about 3/4-inch thick and let rest on the cookie sheets, uncovered, overnight to help ensure a proper crunchiness.

9. The next day, toast the cookies in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes on each side to complete the twice-baked process. Store in an airtight container.

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