We’re kicking up the flavor and texture quotient of this classic little coffee snack by throwing our brittle biscotto to the wind! Cause this here’s a buttery and brunchy biscuit cookie (not a dry or crusty breadstick). And it’s loaded full-bore with thin-sliced, crunchy California almonds, real deal vanilla beans. Also, there’s a punch of fresh and zesty orange zest. Did I just say zest twice? And, this is fun — it’s secretly laced with coffee, tucked right inside! There’s also a fun dark chocolate drizzle option. Way!
Who wants crumbly coffee anyway? If you’re like me, your favorite biscotti might taste better dripping in coffee — with the added benefit of preserving your teeth from breaking on the bite. This biscotti, however, is too good for coffee dunking! And it doesn’t need that soggy dunk to make it palatable. We tenderized it with butter but kept the crunch by using sliced almonds (skins on) and, of course, baking it twice. We also zinged it up with almond paste and orange zest and vanilla beans and more! BTW for more California almond info that you’d ever dare to think about, see our Home Roasted Classic Almonds post.
Kitchen Caution Tape Needed for Massive Recipe Testing! We’ve been messin’ with biscotti testing over here big time even though it might seem unusual for a vintage cake baking household. But now I’m very excited to share the recipe that we’ve been developing for so long. After combing through tons of vintage cookbooks (and modern ones too), baking up a veritable biscotti storm and taking testers notes, I think we’ve honed this little Italian cookie to delicate perfection! Let’s take a close-up look at the innards to see all that heavenly goodness…
Size it up, baby! We’ve created 2 different sizes — for large (traditional sized) biscotti or cute little chocolate-dunked and chocolate-drizzled cookies. Both sizes make excellent homemade kitchen gifts and our step-by-step photo instructions will glide you right through baking up this super special treat. In fact, I hope this might even be the best little non-dunking biscotti you’ve ever pulled hot from your oven.
Here’s some large hazelnut coffee crunchers. Can’t you just smell the buttery almond flavor?
What’s in a Name? Originating from the medieval word, biscotus, biscotti (pronounced
“bisc-scót-tee”>> “beese-scot’-tee”) is plural for twice-baked cookies. (BTW, a single cookie is called a biscotto.) Since all biscuits are now known as biscotti in Italy, these little gems also go by the name of cantuccini (“can-too-cheé-nee”, doesn’t that roll off your tongue in a nice Italian way?). Culinary historians tell us that biscotti was the perfect staple or treat for the traveling Roman soldiers because of their non-perishable holding power. Which is exactly why we usually dunk them in coffee to moisten them a bit in modern times. But do we really need to pack them in a saddle for 6 months? 🙂 Let’s just enjoy them now instead!
The Coffee Hipster! This is my son, Michelangelo. He’s a serious guy. Can you tell? After graduating with a degree in Classical Languages, he’s tutoring Latin while he wades through law school applications. Michelangelo loves coffee. Uh, but only “good” coffee. In a serious way. I mean, he treats coffee with the skill and tenderness of an artist sinking into the creative process of developing a fine masterpiece. He does this every morning.
If his morning brewing skills result in a rich and vibrant cup of coffee then his day will be good. If something goes afoul, then he might have to work a little harder to repair the day because it just might be starting out on the wrong foot. Maybe you’d say that his is the hipster art of coffee brewing. Here are his favorite melamine and fiesta coffee cups…
No Not That Kind of Instant Coffee! I thought I was getting fancy pants with my cappuccino by pressing the 30-second button on the Verismo machine that the kids gave me for Christmas. But I’m learning a LOT about proper sllowww coffee these days with so many college kids passing in and out of our house talking their passionate coffee talk. And it ain’t about how fast the coffee spills out (though I love that when I’m dashing to the office).
How to Brew Perfect Pour-Over Coffee:
Michelangelo brews 2 cups at a time. That’s it. But, first, he ponders over his selection of roasts. He chooses his beans from his special collection. He might choose a morning bean like “El Salvadoran Matalapa” from Intelligentsia or Panamanian “Elida Estate Natural” from Verve Coffee Roasters (the newest coffee roaster in #DTLA Downtown Los Angeles).
These medium coffee roasts (he thinks dark roasts like mine are for pleebs) are carefully stored, of course. They go in to big then little jars in the coffee bin. He borrows my jelly funnel to slide the beans gently into their storage homes…
Then he carefully and precisely measures his coffee beans on a food scale to an acute degree of perfection. I think he actually weighs them twice. One time for the whole roasted coffee beans and then again to re-weigh the ground beans…just to be sure.
Next, he grinds the coffee to a fine texture. I have what I thought was a nice coffee grinder for my coffee but we keep my grinder separated from his for fear that my mundane beans might dust up against his blades and leave some residual unpleasantness. Ha! Actually, he’s upped the quotient these days from his electric grinder, in that back to basics way, by hand grinding his beans to assure an even grind. The little hand-grinder he uses takes about 2 minutes. And it’s not easy. No, I do not have the patience for hand grinding. Remember, I’m the 30-second coffee guy around here.
There’s even an electric goose-neck hand-pouring water kettle for the great coffee pour-over dance. (I admit that I sneak it for a super fast boil of tea water once in a while, shhh!)
And, of course, there is the ceramic cone dripper to allow for a full orchestrated pour-over ritual using unbleached paper cone filters. He starts this process by drizzling a little boiling water over the ceramic cone to warm it. Then he presses a filter carefully into cone and fills it with his ground coffee. He starts with a good dollop of boiling water into the center of the coffee and waits a bit for the “soaking” to take place before taking any further action. As he begins to pour further, he looks for the “bloom” of the coffee brew. He says this foaming-up releases the oils and gasses of the coffee beans and makes for a richer cup of coffee. Then he begins his full spiral pour by goose-necking the hot water in a circular motion over the ground beans (being super cautious not to hit the edges of the grinds with water). And, yes, he uses a stop-watch (on his phone) for this pour-over spiral to ensure the perfect bloom timing.
The soaked, bloomed and brewed coffee is dripped into an interesting glass server that holds the coffee so that he can keep one cup hot in this carafe while he sips the other. A divine morning creation — if everything goes according to plan.
What to Serve with High End Coffee? Yes, I’ve got the most finicky coffee aficionados on my hands fer shure BUT I’ve got just the thing to appease the coffee klatch around here. And I already know that they will scoff at you (or worse, maybe even spit!) if you dare to add anything to that morning black brew. Certainly NOT cream or sugar (I hide mine). And certainly NOT dunking a donut or biscotti into that heavenly cup.
Homemade Buttery Almond Biscotti Ingredients:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (to grease the pan)
1 whole vanilla bean pod, sliced and scraped for seeds
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest, gently packed, from 1 medium orange
1/4 cup almond paste, fine quality, room temperature, sliced or diced
2 Tablespoons (about 4 packets) good quality instant coffee (but my favorite for this recipe is instant hazelnut coffee)
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (general all-purpose flour is fine too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, fine quality
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, fine quality
1 cup sliced almonds, skins on
Optional for dipping or drizzle: 8 oz. (or more) bittersweet dark chocolate, 60% cacao
Biscotti Making Tools:
Cookie sheet baking pan 18″ x 13″ (or thereabouts)
Small sharp knife (for de-seeding a vanilla pod and slicing almond paste)
Zesting tool or grater (for zesting an orange)
Whisk or sifter (for mixing dry ingredients)
4 Tablespoon-sized ice cream scooper (for large biscotti) or cookie scooper (for smaller biscotti)
2 Large bowls (for dry ingredients and main biscotti batter)
Spatula and/or wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Offset spatula or table knife (for smoothing and shaping biscotti logs)
Sharp flat-blade knife (for cutting hot biscotti logs)
Optional: Coffee mug and teaspoon (for chocolate dipping)
Optional: Parchment paper or wax paper (for drying chocolate-dipped cookies)
Directions for Homemade Buttery Almond Biscotti: Okay, here we go!
1. Prepare the Oven and the Baking Pan:
Heat the oven to 325 degrees, placing the oven rack in center position.
Use about 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter to thoroughly grease a cookie sheet pan.
2. Prepare the flavorings, and set aside:
Use a small sharp knife to slice and scrape the seed contents of:
1 vanilla bean pod
Use a zesting tool and 1 medium fresh orange to produce:
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest, gently packed
Measure and chop into slices or cubes:
1/4 cup almond paste, room temperature
Assemble to have at the ready, usually from 4 individual packets:
2 Tablespoons instant coffee, fine quality (or any flavor, hazelnut instant coffee is my favorite for this recipe)
3. Prepare the dry ingredients, and set aside:
In a large bowl, use a whisk or sifter to thoroughly combine, and set aside:
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (or general all-purpose flour is fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4. Cream the Sugar, Butter and Eggs:
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat on high-speed (for about 3 minutes):
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, room temperature
Add to the sugar-butter mixture and continue beating on high-speed for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy:
2 large eggs
5. Mix the Flavorings into the Batter:
With the electric mixer on low-speed, slowly add to the batter for about 30 seconds or until just incorporated:
the prepared vanilla bean seeds
the prepared orange zest
the prepared almond paste
the prepared instant coffee
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, fine quality
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, fine quality
Here’s the instant coffee and the vanilla extract going into the mixer…
Here’s the orange zest, almond paste, vanilla beans and almond extract going into the mixer…
6. Mix the dry with the wet ingredients:
With the electric mixer on low-speed, slowly add to the wet batter for about 30 seconds or until just incorporated:
the prepared dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt)
Tip: The batter will be very thick, like chocolate chip cookie dough consistency (without the chocolate chips).
7. Fold in the Sliced Almonds:
Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir into the batter until just incorporated:
1 cup sliced almonds, skins on (not blanched and not skinless)
8. Scoop and Shape the Dough Log(s):
For large biscotti, use a 4-Tablespoon ice cream scooper (or a 1/4 cup measuring cup) to place level scoops of batter in a long row down the long center of the prepared baking tray.
Tip: Using a scooper makes it uniform and easy to form and nice center log.
Use an offset spatula or knife to smooth the dough scoops into a long log (about 1/2″ high by about 4″ wide by the length of the pan or about 12″ long).
Tip: Run the knife along the edges of the log to give the large log a somewhat sharp edge.
For small biscotti, use a small scoop, often called a cookie dough scooper (or use a Tablespoon as a measuring guide), to place level scoops of batter side-by-side in 3 long rows on the prepared baking tray.
Use an offset spatula or knife to smooth the dough scoops into 3 smooth logs (about 1/2″ high by about 2″ wide by the length of the pan or about 12″ long).
Tip: Run the knife along the edges to give the logs somewhat sharp edges.
Double Tip: I usually end up with 10 small scoops of dough in each of the 3 rows.
9. Bake the First Bake of these Little Darlings:
Place the cookie tray with the prepared log(s) in the center of the preheated oven and bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the cookie log(s) are just gently and lightly turning golden on top and show signs of puffing. The top crust should be lost of shine. Of course, if you choose a dark-roasted coffee for your recipe, the dough will start out at a golden color and turn a little darker as they cook.
Tip: Since everyone’s dough logs will be a slightly different shapes and sizes, the cooking times can vary. But since we’re double baking them, we can always cook them out thoroughly on the second go-round if they result in slightly tacky cookies after the first bake.
10. Slice While Warm and Give Them a Turn:
Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes in the baking tray after removing them from the oven.
Then, while the cookies are still soft and warm, use a sharp flat-blade knife to slice on the diagonal about every half inch (or your desired width) all the way down the log until the entire log is sliced.
Discard the end pieces (into your mouth, chef’s treat, checking for any tackiness that will need to be baked away on the next round to ensure a tender crunch).
Use a knife to slip under each cookie to carefully turn each sliced cookie on to its side.
Tip: This turning process will ensure maximum tender crunchiness and is the basis for the distinctive twice-baked biscotti crunch factor.
Double Tip: The single center log is easier to slice. So, if you find that the almond slices in the small logs seem hard to slice through without breaking the cookie, then slow down your slicing and perhaps use a smaller knife and chop down instead of sawing. Sometimes I make a half cut on half the small logs and then rotate the pan around to cut the other sideshalves. If some break or crumble, then that shows the sign of homemade love!
11. Going in for the Second Bake:
Return the sliced and turned cookies to the oven and continue baking at 325 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden brown.
12. Remove and cool:
The cookies can cool in the baking tray.
Tip: Loosen the bottom of the cookies using a spatula to ensure that they do not stick to the pan as they cool.
When the cookies are thoroughly cooled, in about 1 hour, they can be packaged in zip-lock baggies to store.
Optional: Chocolate Dipping or Drizzling:
Line the baking tray with parchment paper or wax paper (I use wax paper).
Using a microwave-safe mug, melt in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring intermittently:
8 oz. (or more) bittersweet dark chocolate, 60% cacao (the amount of dark chocolate depends on how far you want to take this chocolate dipping or drizzle thing)
Dip one end (or a tip) of each cookie into the melted chocolate.
Tip: Use a teaspoon to help cover the tip of the cookie with melted chocolate as needed.
Place the chocolate-y biscotti on parchment or wax paper to cool and harden.
To drizzle, just use a teaspoon to gather a bit of melted chocolate and run it over the top of the cookie in fun patterns.
Serve with really excellent coffee. 🙂
Or wrap the cookies in festive containers to give as kitchen gifts.
They also make wonderful office party presents and host or hostess gifts. Who wouldn’t smile if they receive a little gift of special homemade biscotti?
Thank you for joining me for this homemade baking adventure! I do hope you’ll be able to try out this biscotti recipe in your own kitchen soon. Let me know how it goes in the Comments! I love hearing from you!
From around our place…
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Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Pound Cake (bakethiscake.com)
How to Make Homemade Marascino Cherries (bakethiscake.com)
Old-Fashioned Custard Frosting Using Granulated Sugar (bakethiscake.com)