Yes yes, this is yet another almond cookie. But this time, we're travelling from, erm, Chinatown to Italy for biscotti. This twice-baked cookie is crunchy and perfect for dipping into coffee or wine. The recipe I used incorporates butter so it deviates slightly from traditional recipes which don't use any fat. The added butter gives it the perfect not-too-hard texture so you can enjoy it sans dunking.
Contrary to my earlier advice, I find it is actually easier to get nice slices without crumbling if you use a serrated knife and a sawing motion. Also, chopping up the nuts a bit before adding them allows the dough to hold together better, again minimizing crumbling. It's a good idea to toast the nuts before adding them for maximum crunch, but they will toast up a bit more during the final (second) baking.
Recipe after the jump!
Almond Biscotti (Cantuccini)
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour 1 large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Have another ungreased baking sheet on hand.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the extracts until blended.
Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. Mix or stir in the almonds. The batter should be very soft.
Turn the batter out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one-half onto the greased baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on one side of the sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs. (They will spread as they bake.)
Bake the logs until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the logs cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs, still on the pan, on the diagonal into slices 1/2 inch wide. Carefully turn the slices on their sides and return them to the oven. When you run out of room on one baking sheet, start transferring slices to the other sheet.
Bake until the edges are golden, about 10 minutes more. Let the biscotti cool completely on the pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen biscotti.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).