Somewhere along the road, I picked up a basic biscotti recipe. I tweaked it a little bit here and a little bit there until I ended up with this particular incarnation, which seems to be everyone’s favorite. The best way to describe the biscotti is that they taste the way Jergen’s cherry almond hand lotion smells; except, well, that sounds kind of gross. But just use your imagination.
Biscotti may seem intimidating and fancy, but they’re basically just sugar cookies you cook twice. (Wikipedia tells me that the name comes from a medieval Latin phrase that means “twice baked.”) Here’s what you’re going to need:
10 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp almond extract
3 ¼ cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp turbinado sugar, to sprinkle on top before baking if desired (that’s the thick, coarse kind that looks like the sugary equivalent of kosher salt)
½ cup dried cherries, cut in half for better mixing
½ cup dark chocolate chunks/chips*
½ cup sliced almonds
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F
Melt the butter in a medium-sized bowl. (Often recipes call for softened butter, but I find that it works better if you full-on melt it. You don’t want it to boil, though, because the frothy bit on top when it clarifies will give a weird texture.)
Mix in the sugar, vanilla, almond, and cinnamon with the butter. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients to wet.
Now, you can either use the almond slices as-is if you like chunkier biscotti, but I find that the cherries and chocolate chunks really get the job done on that front. So if you want to, you can use a little chopper or a mortar and pestle to chop up the almonds into fine pieces before stirring them into the batter. It gives it a crunchy almond base flavor without being too obvious. Once you’ve mixed in the almonds, add the cherries and chocolate chunks.
Separate the dough into halves. On a large baking pan, shape two long, flat rectangles the length of the pan. The batter will hardly spread at all, so you’ll want to make them as wide or tall as you want the final cookie to be. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar before baking if you want a little sugary crunch on the outside.
Bake the biscotti for 25 minutes, or until a medium golden brown color. Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for at least an hour. The waiting step is critical. (If you don’t give the cookies time to cool down, then they’ll just burn instead of getting crispy.) While they’re still warm, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces on a diagonal, and arrange them on the baking sheet cut side down. Once they’ve cooled a bit, return them to the oven for 15-20 minutes at 325F.
And that’s it! All you need after that is a big cup of coffee or hot tea, and maybe someone to share with. Maybe.
*Side note: Sometimes I forgo mixing in the chocolate chunks with the batter and instead and partially dip the finished cookie in melted chocolate mixed with a little shortening/vegetable oil to firm it up when it dries for a chocolate covered effect. It is delicious.