Biscotti always had a place on the holiday cookie plates of my youth in heavily Italian-American Rhode Island. I can’t say that as a kid I appreciated the dry texture and simple presentation. But when I saw this recipe in Gourmet in 1992, whether out of nostalgia or a 30-year-old’s pretentious reasoning that if it’s a Gourmet recipe it must be good, I gave it a whirl. Each year, biscotti grace my holiday cookie plates, but this recipe remains my favorite.
For many years it was my favorite because it was a really good low-fat cookie – only eggs – no oil or butter. As a newlywed, I was thrilled to introduce my husband to them, and because he liked them, I made them in part to please him and my now 10-year old, who enjoys biscotti in a way that I never did as a child. When I was the busy mom of a toddler, I appreciated that they were simple to make and delicious unadorned.
This year the ritual of holiday baking provides comfort as I process my husband’s recurrence of cancer. Last week, I found simple pleasure in remembering that this is a dough stirred by hand. It doesn’t require a noisy electric mixer, and I can bake away when I’m wide awake at 3 a.m. and the rest of the house is sleeping.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups whole almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water to brush on cookies
Preheat oven to 300 F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, vanilla and orange zest. Add to flour mixture, beating (or stirring) until dough is formed. Stir in almonds.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Cut dough in half.
Working on large buttered and floured baking sheet, with floured hands, form each piece of dough into flattish log 12-by-2 inches. Arrange logs at least 3 inches apart on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with egg wash.
Bake the logs 50 minutes or until set. Put baking sheet on a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer logs to a cutting board and cut crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and bake at 300 for 15 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake 15 minutes more.
Store biscotti at room temperature in a tightly lidded tin for up to 2 weeks.