I woke up this morning to grey skies and glossy sidewalks; it was one of those days when getting out of bed took a good fifteen minutes and so plans to go to a festival were easily thwarted. It seems there’s always a festival of some sort going on in D.C. every weekend anyways. A book festival, a neighborhood festival, a cultural festival, a wine tasting, an art show, you name it, there’s probably a street blocked off somewhere in the District with people selling meat on a stick and giving away gaudy tote bags.
I had planned on making biscotti the night before, but with the dreary weather quickly filtering through my bedroom window, the thought of cookie that is made to go with a hot cup of coffee was becoming more and more perfect for the type of day it was. There’s just something comforting about cradling a cup of dark coffee in one hand while dipping the toasted cookie into it with the other. The way the coffee makes the biscotti fall apart in your mouth makes the grey weather a little bit warmer and bearable.
Biscotti, adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
dark or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
almonds, finely chopped and toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Stir in almond extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended.
3. Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
4. Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.
5. Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.
The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks. Makes about 2 dozen.
Such a simple recipe! From the original recipe, I added the almond extract for a subtle nutty flavor. I had some difficulty melting the chocolate to coat the biscotti. I would recommend adding a tablespoon or two of butter and a splash of milk to give the chocolate a nice glossy sheen and creamier texture. For the almonds, I simply tossed them into a skillet and toasted for just a couple of minutes over high heat.
I also realized, as I am writing this entry, that I had actually used baking soda instead of baking powder. Alas! The biscotti turned out perfectly fine though, looking and tasting just like they should. I wouldn’t recommend substituting the two, but if you happen to be out of baking powder, baking soda should do in a pinch!