I remember the first time I had biscotti. It came in a tub, individually wrapped in thin plastic, and smelled like dried cookie crumbs. The biscotti crumbled perfectly in my mouth, melting into a soft sweetness. Each bite had a particular crunch, as if the air could crackle. The biscotti was perfect in every way- not only was it delicious, but it also came from Costco, meaning it was supercheap.
I remember the second time I had biscotti. It came in a wax paper, carefully wrapped by the barista behind the counter at one of my favorite coffee shops in New York City. It was a quarter of the size of the biscotti from Costco and cost twice as much. The biscotti actually didn’t smell like anything, and when I bit into it, I thought I chipped it tooth; it was rock solid.
What a ripoff, I thought! I paid for a cookie so stale that it wasn’t even chewable. And then, as if it was the most natural thing to do, I dipped the biscotti into my latte like a little kid would dunk an Oreo into a glass of milk. I swirled the biscotti, round and round, until foam from the steamed milk covered half of the biscotti. Then I took a bite.
Sometimes there are moments in life when a light bulb in our heads switch on and things become so clear. In that moment, I realized that the best biscotti aren’t the ones that are airy and soft or the ones that you can casually bite into. The best biscotti are the ones that can survive a good dunking in that hot coffee and only begin disintegrating when it hits the innards of your mouth. The perfect biscotti, in other words, is one that you can play around with by swirling it in your coffee while you casually glance at your newspaper, and still be intact when you decide to take that bite.
Nuts, especially almonds, go wonderfully well in biscotti. While chopped nuts provide for that contrasting crunch against the soft cookie post dunking, using almond flour gives it this intensity that’s equally distributed in each bite. Almond flour is sweet by nature and ground until delicately soft. The best thing to compare it to texture-wise would be powdered sugar, but in a pastel yellow.
The following recipe makes around 8 long biscotti or 16 small biscotti depending on the cut. It pairs well with that morning cup of coffee and is perfect for some heavy dunking. Dipping it in bittersweet chocolate, though optional, is highly recommended. After all, what doesn’t taste good dipped in chocolate?
Chocolate dipped almond biscotti
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/2 cup chopped almonds
4 oz melted bittersweet chocolate
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, almond flower, baking soda, and salt. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg white, and then mix in the almonds. Now, using a rubber spatula, fold the mixture so that the flour is fully incorporated.
Knead the dough by hand until the mixture forms a smooth ball. If the dough is too wet to handle, adjust by adding a bit more flour, but only a slight pinch at a time. Roll the dough into a log about 10 inches long on a lightly floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin until the log is 6 inches wide. Transfer the log onto the cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, making sure that the bottom of the biscotti does not brown. After baking, cool on a rack. With a serrated knife, cut into 1 inch slices (you can decide how big or small you want your biscotti to be). When cutting, cut on a diagonal so that the first cut looks like a triangle. Place the slices, cut side down, back onto the baking sheet and continue baking in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Turn the biscotti over halfway through the baking.
Meanwhile, in a double broiler or in a microwave, carefully melt the chocolate. Transfer the melted chocolate to a flat plate and dip one side of the biscotti into it. Place the biscotti on wire racks, chocolate side up. Wait 10 minutes for it the chocolate to harden.
Photo du jour: “I WILL EAT YOU!”