Two days of incredibly rare, soft summer rain have made me a wee bit nostalgic (some might say homesick); this weather reminds me of the midwestern thunderstorms that I experienced each summer as a kid growing up in Michigan. As the clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall, my friends and I would take shelter on my front porch where we’d pass the time drawing and coloring. Occasionally, my mom or sister would bring out a plate of cookies. Yesterday’s cool weather and rain showers made me hungry for homemade biscotti – the perfect cookie for dunking in a mug of tea or cup of hot coffee.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (for this recipe, I use the same temperature for both convection and conventional ovens).
Toast whole, unsalted almonds on a rimmed cookie sheet in a preheated oven for about five minutes. Allow to cool then chop in a food processor. Toast enough almonds to yield at least one cup of chopped nuts.
Combine 2 Tbsp. softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs and 2 tsp. almond extract in a bowl and beat until creamy.
In a separate bowl, combine: 2¼ cups flour, 1½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. salt and 1 cup chopped almonds. Mix well.
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet until dough forms. With floured hands, form dough (on a parchment covered, non-insulated cookie sheet) into a single flattish log about 15 inches long and four inches wide.
Brush with egg white & bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. (Please pardon the blurry photo.)
I usually mix three batches of dough and bake them all at once. If you use a conventional oven, you’ll need to rotate the pans midway to ensure even browning.
After 30 minutes, remove the biscotti log from oven and let rest five minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Slide the parchment paper onto a wood cutting board and using a serrated bread knife, cut into slices about a one inch wide. This recipe yields 15 slices (depending on how wide and long I make the log of dough). Arrange each slice, cut side down, on the parchment covered cookie sheet and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes at 300°F.
Then remove from the oven, flip each slice over and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes at 300°F, or until each cookie is dry and lightly golden in color.
Test cookies by pressing lightly with your finger; they should not yield to pressure. Biscotti are meant to be crunchy – hence the need to dunk in tea or coffee. When they’ve finished baking, place the biscotti on wire racks to cool.
For an elegant presentation, lightly drizzle with melted dark chocolate and garnish with chopped almonds. Store finished biscotti in an airtight container. The recipe as written will yield one log, or about 15 cookies. Truth be told, we often prefer them plain.
I’ve been making these biscotti since 2001, the year my sister Kathleen and I began our yearly tradition of baking Christmas cookies together. That year, we baked ten kinds of cookies in all. Most were recipes handed down from our mother and grandmothers, but we adapted the recipe for these almond biscotti from one that appeared in our local Chicagoland Daily Herald newspaper (originally printed on December 4, 1996). It’s now one of our all-time favorites; healthier than a chocolate chip cookie, but just as satisfying.
And perfect for rainy days.