Sunday, May 24, 2009

Almond Biscotti

Chocolate-dipped almond biscotti

Biscotti fall into that invaluable category of baked goods that can be put together relatively easily and stored for days or even weeks. They're great to have on hand just in case you: fancy something to nibble on with your tea or coffee, find yourself with unexpected guests, need to crumble some dry cookies for a cheesecake crust, or just want something sweet for a small afternoon snack. There are many good and worthwhile varieties out there, from anise to pistachio to chocolate. My favorite is almond; indeed, I firmly believe that almond is the best and most suitable flavor for biscotti.

Almond biscotti (I)

Biscotti can be purchased at specialty shops and an increasing number of grocery stores, but as with most baked goods you can buy in a store, I think they're much better when made at home. Purchased biscotti always seem stale and dull to me, whereas homemade ones remain fresh-tasting and full of flavor even several days after baking. In fact, they often improve in flavor if you give them a day or two (or three) to mature.

These little Italian cookies are light and crisp, but not so hard that you need to fear for your teeth. They have a beautiful toasted almond flavor that is present, but in a subtle way that makes the cookies feel rather elegant. Biscotti are delicious unadorned, but for some extra fun, dip them in melted chocolate. Dark, milk, or even (perhaps especially) white chocolate all work wonderfully. It just depends on the taste you want. Recipe below!

Chocolate-covered almond biscotti (I)

Almond Biscotti

Adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food
Makes about 3 dozen cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Place oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 350F/175C.
  2. Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet, and toast them in the oven until just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let the almonds cool, then chop them coarsely.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and zest and beat until the mixture falls in a nice ribbon.
  5. Stir in the flour until just combined, and gently fold the almonds into the dough (though it will really be more like a very stiff batter).
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two portions. Using moistened hands, form each portion of dough into a loaf about 3 inches wide, spacing the loaves 3-4 inches apart. Use re-moistened hands to smooth any lumps in the loaves.
  7. Bake until pale golden, about 25 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F/150C.
  8. Carefully remove each loaf from the parchment paper. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf into diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick and place the slices cut-side-down on the baking sheet. Use two baking sheets, if necessary, or work in batches.
  9. Bake cut biscotti for 10 minutes, then turn the cookies and bake until golden and crisp, another 10-15 minutes.


  • Biscotti keep in an airtight container for several days, or even a couple of weeks (but don't expect them to last that long).
  • Feel free to adjust the flavors as desired: substituting different kinds of nuts or dried fruit, reducing the lemon zest in favor of ground spices such as anise or fennel, and so on.

Chocolate-covered almond biscotti (II)


Bee said...

I'm making these tomorrow! (We are going on a biking trip in Spain in July and I've decided that I need to train. My idea of training being low-fat baked goods combined with body pump classes . . .)

In complete agreement that biscotti should be almond. Also, these pictures are FAB!

Anne said...

Oooh, a biking trip in Spain sounds amazing! I can't wait to hear all about it. These biscotti are indeed very low fat--almost fat-free, if it weren't for the egg yolks. Is your area good for cycling? Or are the lanes too narrow and the cars too numerous?