Making this almond biscotti has become a beloved holiday tradition for my family. The recipe comes from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere, one of my all-time favorite dessert cookbooks. Lindsey has a lovely way of making her recipes approachable, beautiful and everything I make always turns out a winner — now, that’s a good cookbook.
Back to the biscotti, years ago I stumbled upon this recipe in C.P. Desserts that was passed down from Lindsey’s 85 year-old Italian aunt. Her stories reminded me of my own stories of my Italian grandmother and I instantly felt connected to the recipe. It’s been in our Christmas baking rotation ever since.
This is a great recipe for when you have helpers in the kitchen, my girls love to mix and shape the logs. Biscotti are fairly easy to throw together and not overly sweet, which is nice coming into the homestretch of sugar overload. These feel special no matter when you serve them — as an easy dessert, for a little coffee break nibble or even with a glass of wine by the fire. Biscotti are also great for gifting because of their long shelf life. However, they never seem to last long at our house.
My hope is to still be in the kitchen with my girls baking these when I’m 85.
Makes 4 ½ dozen cookies, 2 ½ inches long
½ cup (2 ounces) whole unblanched almonds
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons AP flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Toast the almonds in a dry skillet until they smell nutty. Cool and chop by hand into ¼ chunks. While the nuts cool, cream the butter with a stand mixture or hand held until fluffy, add the sugar until thoroughly incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add one egg at a time until mixture is smooth. Beat in the brandy, vanilla and almond extract. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients and then add them to the butter mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in the chopped almonds.
Set your oven to 325 degrees.
On a lightly floured board, make sausage-like rolls of the dough an inch or so in diameter and the length of your baking sheet. Set them on the baking sheet fitted with a piece of parchment or silpat about 2 inches apart and bake in the top third of your preheated oven for 25 minutes or until they set and lightly browned on top. Cool the rolls on a rack for 5 or so minutes; then slice them diagonally with a serrated knife about ½ inch thick.
Lay the slices back on the baking sheets and return to the oven for about 5 minutes to dry them. Turn the slices and dry for another 5 minutes until lightly golden on the edges. Cool on wire racks and store in a tightly covered container. They will keep for months!
“I believed then, as I do now, that it makes a difference in taste
when one’s thoughts and feelings and hands are employed
in what one serves.” –Elizabeth Berg, The Dream Lover
Glad tidings of comfort and joy.