I haven’t craved a crunchy cookie (or crunchy anything) in years, but on our recent trip to Minnesota I discovered that my big brother loves biscotti. I idolize him so I decided to try to like biscotti again too, and it turns out, I do!
That same week, I made a random love connection with a lovely lady from America’s Test Kitchen. Are you familiar? I am addicted to this show on PBS (DVR it people, i swear you will not regret – i even got my husband addicted to it) as well as a paying subscriber to Cooks Illustrated.
So, anyhoo, someone over there is a Prudent Baby fan, and we connected, and she sent me some cookbooks including The Best Simple Recipes (my new favorite cookbook of all time) and a sneak peak of the upcoming Healthy Family Cookbook which comes out the same time as my book and is also available for pre-order now. Test Kitchen recipes are always the best because they test them out ten bajillion ways to understand what makes them work and find the very best way to make an item or meal. The twist in this book is that everything is also made a wee bit healthier, with some wheat flour added or calories cut in each recipe, without reducing flavor or adding weird stuff. So i just started flipping through and came across this biscotti recipe. I did everything exactly as described except one tiny thing I thought I could skip, and my biscotti came out perfectly except for that one tiny detail…
Find out what it was and get the full Biscotti Recipe after the jump…
Homemade Biscotti Recipe
from the upcoming America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
The original recipe was for almond biscotti, but I hate almonds so I used some orange extract in place of the almond extract and eliminated the almonds. I’ll give the original recipe though, because if you like almonds it is probably delicious. They give a variation for orange and anise, but of course i was out of anise, that would have been even yummier.
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened*
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I replaced with orange extract)
3/4 almonds, toasted and chopped coarse (I eliminated)
*I learned from America’s Test Kitchen that butter is properly softened when you can bend the stick but it wont break. I also learned it takes about 30 minutes for one stick of butter to soften at room temperature, and that the temperature of softened butter is between 65 and 67 degrees. Man, I love this stuff.
Directions (I’m abbreviating these somewhat, the book is more detailed)
1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. (this is the part I skipped. i left mine in the lower-middle. bad idea, the bottom of my biscotti is a little too brown. serves me right for not following directions!) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together the two flours, the baking powder, and the salt.
2. Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl for 3-6 minutes until creamy and uniform. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the almonds until just incorporated if using.
4. Shape the dough into two 10″X3″ loaves on the baking sheet, about 3″ apart:
Bake until golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet about halfway through cooking. You can see my bottoms are browned from being too low in the oven (though this is sort of an optical illusion, they weren’t burned like they appear here):
5. Let them cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes and reduce your oven temp to 325.
6. Transfer the loaves to a cutting board and cut them on the diagonal into 1/2″ thick slices with a serrated knife.
Lay those slices on the baking sheet, cut side up, about 1/2″ apart and bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving, about one hour.
Another note from the Test Kitchen: Any moisture left in the biscotti will soften the whole batch and make your crunchy cookies a yick batch of sadness if you don’t let them cool all the way in the open air. So don’t pack ’em up too soon.
There is something really satisfying about eating your own homemade biscotti. I’m not sure why. It feels like being 22 again and hungover on an early morning in paris or berlin. Sigh.
Relax and enjoy.