Badass Biscotti

biscotti

I freaking love biscotti.

I love anything that I can dip into what I’m drinking – milk, tea, coffee, whatever. I wasn’t always like this, however. In fact, I used to think it was super gross to dip things like toast into coffee (the only exception to this rule being cookies in milk). But then again, I also used to think things like coffee and tea were super gross, too.

I admit the error of my ways.

I didn’t really discover biscotti until a few years ago, when my family and I stayed at a cabin for vacation. The owners would always leave us two things: a jar of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, and another jar full of store-bought biscotti. I’m not here to hate on store-bought biscotti today, because that stuff was delicious – light, crunchy, and with enough chocolate to melt luxuriously on the cookie and a bit into my hot tea. We’ve stayed at that cabin several years since, and I’m pretty sure I’m still the one who ate the vast majority of that biscotti. I have zero shame.

What I was happy to discover quite recently (as in, last Christmas) was that I could make biscotti pretty quickly and easily on my own. While I enjoyed the store-bought version, I also discovered that the homemade version kicks store-bought biscotti right in the pants – it’s a bit denser (in the best way), holds up better in hot drinks, and is heckin’ customizable (and man, oh, man, do I love customizing!). Different flours, different nuts, and different flavorings are all fair game here – I match up liqueurs and flavorings with whatever nuts I’m using as best as I can.

You know what this means, right? Right?

It means you, my friends, can make biscotti, too. Let’s do this!

Homemade Biscotti

I prefer mine dipped in chocolate (like those pictured), but doing so is entirely optional. Flavor variations listed below the recipe.

You will need:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour (you may sub up to 1 c whole wheat flour, if that’s your bag)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • up to 1 tbsp nut-flavored liqueur (such as amaretto or Frangelico) or 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4-1 c chopped nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or pine nuts)
  • Optional: 8oz milk, dark, or white chocolate; chopped dried fruit (such as cranberries)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, beat sugar and butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and liqueur or extract. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients using a sifter or whisk: flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined (do not mix this forever, in other words). Stir in nuts.
  4. Clean and lightly flour a level surface, such as a countertop. Turn dough onto the countertop and divide the dough in half. Mold each dough piece into a flat loaf, each about 1 inch high, 3-4 inches wide, and 6-8 inches long, making sure to flatten evenly and smooth the tops so they bake evenly.
  5. Place the loaves a few inches apart on the baking sheet, and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until golden and small cracks form on top. They will not rise or change shape much. Cool the loaves on the baking sheet on a wire rack for a few minutes until cool enough to handle, but still quite warm. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F.
  6. Using a serrated knife and a cutting board, slice each loaf on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices, being careful not to break or crack the loaves (if you do, no worries – just keep going!). Place the sliced cookies back on the baking sheet, cut side down, and bake at 250 for another 15-20 minutes until they dry out, turning the cookies halfway through baking. How do you tell if they’ve dried out? Watch and test the middles – if the middle is still darker/moister looking than the edges, they need more time.
  7. Allow to cool briefly on the cookie sheet, then place cookies on a wire rack and cool completely.

Tips:

  1. For a deeper, nuttier flavor, toast and cool the nuts before adding them to the dough. You can do this three different ways. In the oven: place nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F, stirring frequently and checking at 5-minute intervals (it may take up to 20 minutes). In the microwave: place the nuts on a plate and microwaving on high at one-minute intervals, stirring after each interval. On the stovetop: Place nuts in a heated pan and toast on medium high, stirring frequently until golden and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Remove immediately to cool before adding to the dough.
  2. If you replace any of the all-purpose flour with wheat flour, expect to increase your baking time by a few minutes, as wheat flour has a higher moisture/oil content than its AP cousin.

Variations:

  1. Chocolate-Dipped Biscotti: After Step 7, melt 8 oz of your chocolate of choice by placing it in a shallow dish (I use one of my small Pyrex containers) and microwaving for one minute, stirring, and in 30-second intervals until smooth. (You can also add 1 tsp of butter or coconut oil to temper the chocolate.) Dip the bottoms of the (completely cooled) biscotti into the chocolate, tap the biscotti against the side of the dish to get rid of excess, and place on a Silpat or parchment to cool and dry. You can also get fancy and drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the biscotti with a fork, no dipping required.
  2. Hazelnut Biscotti: Use chopped hazelnuts for the nuts, and Frangelico for the liqueur. If your hazelnuts have skins (which can make your biscotti bitter), you can remove them after toasting by rubbing them vigorously with a clean kitchen towel while still warm.
  3. Almond Biscotti: Use chopped or slivered blanched almonds for the nuts, and amaretto or almond extract for the liqueur.
  4. Chocolate Chocolate Biscotti: Replace 1/2 c of the flour with cocoa powder, and proceed with the recipe. Dip in chocolate. Die of happiness.
  5. White Chocolate Orange Almond: Use orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) or orange juice for the liqueur, and almonds for the nuts. Dip or drizzle cooled biscotti with melted white chocolate.
  6. Don’t like nuts? No problem! You can omit them, or replace them with an equal amount of chopped dried fruit or chocolate chunks. Baking times may vary should you choose this adventure.

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