Italian Biscotti – also called Cantucci – are crunchy and scrumptious. A box of these make an excellent gift, tied with a ribbon.
The word biscotto originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning ‘twice-cooked’, so they become very dry and can be stored for long periods of time. The dough is baked as logs, cut into slices, then baked again.
Since they are very dry, Italian Biscotti traditionally are served with a drink, into which they may be dunked. This dough is very versatile. You could add dried cranberries, dried raisins, pistachios, chocolate chips or other dried berries.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly toast 1 cup whole almonds and chop them into pieces. Set them aside.
To a large bowl, add 60 gms butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp orange or lemon zest and 1 tbs vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, beat this well.
Sift 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well.
Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl bit by bit. Add the chopped almonds and mix well. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Scrape out the dough with a rubber spatula onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Divide the dough into 2 halves, about 3 inches wide.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, leaving 2 inch space between the halves. The dough should be firm yet soft after baking.
Transfer the tray to a wire rack and let the dough halves cool completely for 30 minutes.
Transfer the first loaf carefully to a cutting board. When the dough halves have completely cooled down, begin slicing them by pressing a very sharp serrated knife straight down into the dough. Place the cookies back on the baking sheet, cut sides up.
Bake 7 minutes, flip the biscotti and bake again for 7 minutes more, until they turn golden brown.
Set the sheet on a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for a couple of days. Then, store in the refrigerator.
By Christ & Co.