Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almond Biscotti

Due to some lingering and major hip pain, I've been doing very little running the last week. This seems a bit different from my usual hamstring issues which manifest in the knees and hips. This is new and causes me to limp even when walking. Needless to say, this is frustrating. Yesterday, I went out for a two hour, six mile walk and still was mopey when I returned. 

Oh, but my whining isn't the reason you decided to read this post, is it?  So, back to biscotti. For the cookie exchange at work, I decided to make 80 some almond biscotti. While this isn't the tastiest batch I've made, these are the most intact, professional looking ones. What really helped this time is (1) having a spray bottle to soften the crust before cutting and (2) using sliced almonds instead of whole nuts.  I wish they come out browner, but these are definitely crunchy enough.

They're not hard to make, but it does help to have a stand mixer or strong forearms (I think you know which one I have) and to give yourself at least two hours. Below is the recipe, which I adapted from King Arthur Flour's recipes for Almond-Lemon Biscotti and Barista Biscotti Bites. As usual, I doubled the salt. If you like things on the sweet side, you might want to use more sugar or add a glaze.

Almond Biscotti

(Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour’s various biscotti recipes)

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup sliced toasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, almond extract, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour and almonds, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

Divide the dough in half, plopping each half onto the prepared baking sheet. Using your wet fingers, shape each piece into a rough log about 12" long, 2" wide, and about ¾" thick. Straighten the log, and smooth its top and sides.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Wait another 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into ½" to ¾" slices. 

Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 30 minutes, till they feel very dry. They’ll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they’ll continue to dry out as they cool. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

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