Monday, March 1, 2010
IN THE KITCHEN: ALMOND BISCOTTI
The first biscotti we had was several years ago in a small Italian bakery, The Modern, in Boston's North End. After tasting their Biscotti I knew I had to make my own, after all we don't get to Boston all that often, and back then parking was a nightmare.
I found and tried many different recipes, with butter and without. There were recipes that called for various types of added flavors and nuts,as well as different measures of flour, sugar and egg. All were good, yet different in texture and flavor. After following recipes, I began experimenting on my own, recalling the first biscotti I tasted in Boston, yet reaching for something slightly different. I think I found what I was looking for.
In Italy,meals are events, served in courses and meant to be savored . Ristorante, including the family owned Masolino's,in the Umbrian hilltown of Panicale, serve a small glass of Vin Santo,along with biscotti, or as it can be called, cantucci. We always enjoy this final touch that extends the meal just a little longer.
So here is our version of biscotti. Serve with coffee in the morning or at the end of a meal with a good Italian dessert wine. Enjoy!
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs (plus 1 additional egg to brush tops of loaves)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
2 tablespoons Sambuca ( a liqueur)
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 orange
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, including orange zest. Add butter to a mixing bowl and with an electric mixer cream until smooth, gradually add sugar, then add eggs one at a time,mix until smooth. Add Sambuca and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. By hand, mix in almonds. Turn dough out of bowl onto a floured surface. Dough will be somewhat sticky, form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
After chilling,transfer dough to a floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions. Form/roll each portion into a log shape (about 7"- 8" in length and 2" broad). Carefully transfer to prepared baking sheet, space about 2"-3" apart. Gently shape the log into somewhat more of a loaf form. Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 30 minutes (first baking). Remove and cool loaves on rack. When cool, slice the loaves on a diagonal, return to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.