It took me what seems like a million tries to actually make biscotti worthy of sending out as gifts this year. As an individual lacking a lot of gift buying funds, biscotti were my only way out of Christmas gifts. Biscotti appear so simple to make but I struggled nonetheless. The recipe I started out with from The Joy Of Cooking left a lot to be desired. The finished biscotti were too hard, too small, and simply bland in my opinion. This lackluster finish may have been my fault. I could have screwed up the instructions somewhere, but I’m thinking more likely it was really the recipe’s fault. Maybe, the Joy of Cooking instructs one how to make a very traditional Italian Biscotti, and I’m just an iconoclast who has been corrupted by the softer and buttery biscotti offered at coffee shops everywhere (cough Starbucks cough).
Thankfully, my newly acquired Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything (the best book ever, seriously!) provided me with a great and easy recipe. Of course, knowing me, I still messed up my first batch despite having a better recipe. How did I do this? Well, I ran out of flour. Instead of getting flour next door I decided to get creative. I finished the recipe off with rich cocoa powder and pancake mix. Despite my roommate and I eating this batch of strange biscotti, I finally gave in and bought real flour. The end result were heavenly cranberry almond biscotti.
These biscotti are the right mix of light and crunchy. Their twice baked crust is delectable. The crumb and texture are perfect, and as any good biscotti will do, they are even better after a day. Great for dunking in coffee or on the side of a cold dessert, I packaged these up and delivered them as a gifts. Those that I gave to my dad were gobbled up in a day, oddly enough mostly by my brother. I will take that as verification of their deliciousness. Now that Christmas is gone (thankfully!), you can still give these to someone after whipping up a batch. It would be a good way to win someone over. I mean, who can resist a cookie bribe?
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything
Makes about 2-4 dozen, depending on shape
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus a bit more for greasing a pan
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
1 or 2 tablespoons of milk if needed
1 cup of blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup of dried cranberries
1. Preheat the oven to 375. With egg beaters, cream the butter and sugar fluffy. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, beating the eggs in until well blended. Then add the almond extract.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the dough slowly, beating until just mixed. Add a little milk if needed to adjust the dough.
3. Fold in the cranberries and almonds.
4. On a greased and floured baking sheet turn the dough out and gently shape with floured hands outward. This dough is wet but I did not find it needed any extra flour. You want a dough that reaches the length of the cookie sheet and that is about 4 inches wide. Flatten the dough to achieve this as you shape outward, but remember to keep the shape of a biscotti in mind. You could also roll the dough into a log and flatten until the shape is achieved. **ps You could shape the dough instead into two logs and have each log only 2 inches wide, but I prefer a longer biscotti**
5. Bake the log until it is golden and beginning to show cracks on top, around 30 minutes. Cool the log out of the oven, and lower the temperature to 250.
6. Once the log is cooled, cut 1/2 inch slices, laying them down on a cookie sheet with the cut side down.
7. Cook the slices 15-20 minutes, turning once. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.