I have been thinking a lot about baking biscotti. Like, A LOT. Probably overthinking them. Since these almond biscotti were a gift for my boss, the pressure was even bigger. First of all, er… did I mention they were for my boss? Not that I would get fired for burning a cookie, but you know… it’s your boss and for every impression you make, you want it to be really good. And second of all, he has quite a taste for sweets and knows a good Italian food. So, biscotti seemed like a good choice, but they had to be the real deal.
Looking up the recipes, I found pastries with and without the addition of butter, with eggs lightly and heavily beaten, with great variations in ingredients ratios and baking temparetures… So, what was a girl to do than get her nerves together and make a recipe of her own? Both a fiasco and a triumph would be completely on me and there was something very encouraging about that fact. I decided I was up for the challenge and the last thing to do was to think of a subflavour.
Almonds came to me instantly. I love the way they look in a sliced cookie. So there was one, but who would be the next lucky winner…if any? I thought about adding bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate and cranberries, orange, raisins and finally lemon. Lemon got closest to finding its way into these biscuits, but just as I was in the store buying all the ingredients, I came across a candy of marzipan coated in chocolate and remembered how my boss had once told me about his fondness of marzipan. So that was it – almond marzipan biscotti idea was born.
Baking part was easy – the method of baking biscotti is very simple. First you make a soft dough, roll it out and bake in a log. Once baked, you cut it into biscuits and bake for the second time to crisp the cookies – biscotti – up. The final cookies will be hard and crispy, so I prefer to cut them thinly, it makes them easier to bite into. But oh, when you do bite into them… They are sweet, they are crunchy and crispy, yet somehow manage to melt in your mouth. Chopped almonds give them rough texture, which I like, making them super crunchy. You could dunk them in coffee, milk or even wine, but they are just as good as is.
Oh and I almost forgot the most important thing – my boss was pleased, he said they were really good and that I should think about starting a business. Ha, if only he knew… =)
Well there, approved by none other than my boss, I present to you the recipe for my almond marzipan biscotti!
preparation time: about 1 hour
baking time: 8 minutes, 180°C (350 F) for roasting the almonds
25 – 30 minutes, 180°C (350 F) for baking the logs
7-8 minutes, 150°C (300 F) for second baking the cookies
Ingredients for the dough:
120 g whole almonds
150 g vanilla flavoured sugar (or use granulated white sugar and add some vanilla flavouring)
55 g soft butter, at room temperature
2 whole eggs
260 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
50 g chopped marzipan block or candy bar – optional
1. Start by roasting the almonds. Place them in an even layer on a baking pan and roast in a preheated oven at 180°C/350 F for about 8 minutes. I used almonds with skin on, but you may use blanched if you prefer. Also, I didn’t peel the skin after roasting them (it is not so easy to do with almonds as it is with hazelnuts), because roasting is merely for enhancing their flavour. Set them aside to cool while making the dough.
2. In a large bowl combine sugar and soft butter and cream them together using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a whisk, because that is the only option other than a dough hook attachment on my mixer).
3. Add two whole eggs, but mix them in one at a time, giving them time to incorporate well.
4. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder into the mixture and start mixing on slow speed.
5. Once you see that the flour is almost fully mixed in, add whole roasted almonds and chopped marzipan. Mix those in as well briefly. You should end up with very soft mixture, but it should resemble dough more than batter. Take it out of the bowl and finish by gently kneading on a floured surface. Don’t add too much flour though – add just enough so it doesn’t stick.
6. Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape each part into a log. Carefully transfer them to a prepared baking pan ligned with parchment paper and flatten them slightly using you fingers. Make sure to separate them because they will spread slightly as they bake. I made two logs 5 cm (2 in) wide and 30 cm (11,8 in) long. Think about the size of the biscotti you wish to have and shape the logs accordingly.
7. Bake the logs for about 25 to 30 minutes at 180°C/350 F, depending on their size and thickness. I suggest checking them after about 20 minutes to see how fast they are baking. They should be golden brown around the edges and at the bottom and the top should be fully set. You should be able to move them like a loaf of bread.
8. Once baked, transfer them to a cutting board and let them cool for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, lower the oven temperature to 150°C/300 F.
9. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on an angle into slices – cookies. The bigger the angle, the larger the cookie. Make them as thick or as thin as you like. Mine were about 1 cm (0,4 in) thick. Place them in a single layer on the same baking tray and bake at 150°C/300 F for about 7-8 minutes. Take them out, flip them and bake for the same amount of time. The longer you bake them, the crispier they will be, so adjust the time to your liking. I baked mine for 7,5 minutes.
10. That’s it – let them cool to fully harden and crisp up, pour a glass of wine or a cup of coffee to dunk them into in order to get a full biscotti experience and enjoy!