Monday, August 8, 2011

Coffee and Italian Almond Biscotti

                                                                                                                                                                

First let me thank you for voting in my polls.  Participation went up by 30% this week.  I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am.  Let's see if we can get another increase with this weeks query.

I filled and moved the "bird feeder" to the front yard.   It quickly became a popular spot with the locals.


The male cardinals are too big to reach the seeds, but the squirrels are messy and knock many to the ground for them.

                                                                                                                                                                

I'm getting in touch with my inner Italian today.  Um, I wonder why?   Now the trick is to find some interesting recipes that are not what you guys are making at home.  That probably rules out spaghetti, lasagna and  macaroni and cheese.  Let's get to work.

We are starting with Almond Biscotti.  I love it with a cup of hot coffee on mornings when I have time to sit and start my day slow and in the winter with hot cocoa in the evening.  It's a twice baked cookie that is easy to make and way too expensive at Starbucks.  Traditionaly biscotti is made with anise (which I love) but many people don't care for it.  I'm going to use this wonderful licorice flavored extract, but vanilla, almond, or even orange can be substituted if you prefer.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp anise (don't be scared) 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (or sliced if you would rather)
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Beat soft butter with 1 cup of sugar until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beat, then add the anise and give it a stir.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into butter mixture.  Add almonds and stir again.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Form dough into 2 loaves 8" x 3" mounding slightly down the center.  


Keep in mind that with 2 tsp baking powder these guys will spread to about 10" x 5".   Brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.  I used large grainy decorators sugar because I love the sparkle.   


Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.  Cool on a rack until easily handled.  The parchment paper makes it easy to slide right onto the rack without the worry of lifting the cookie and having it crumble.  


When it is cool enough to handle (10 minutes or so) cut into 1/2" slices and place back onto cookie sheet with the cut sides up.  The centers may feel more like an over cooked cake, but that's okay.  You are about to bake them again.


Turn oven down 300 degrees and bake for 10 minutes, turn cookies over, and bake 10 minutes more. Now turn off the oven, open the door slightly, and let cookies rest in oven for about 5 minutes.  


Cool on wire rack.  Makes 22 cookies, not counting the end pieces, that keep 3 months in freezer or 1 week at room temperature.  I do a little of both.  They can also be dipped in chocolate  if you like. Yum.


I read that biscotti crumbs can be used in place of graham cracker crumbs for pie crust.  Can you imagine how awesome that would be with a creamy chocolate pie?  How about sprinkling crumbs on vanilla yogurt or over fresh peaches?  Great way to use those ends that are not as pretty.