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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dad's Italian Biscotti

I love coffee and can't live without it. I'm not pretty without it and might not say kind things until my caffeine consumption has been sufficiently filled,period.
I'm not completely unpleasant or anything without it,but it sure does help.My parents have always enjoyed coffee so I guess you can say it's genetic,for now I'm going with that.
I have worked for two coffee shops in my time,both of which sold hot,fresh-brewed coffee goodness as it's main staple/spotlight menu item.And they both at one time or another sold biscotti,coffee's best mate.

I love biscotti a whole bunch and sadly always forget how much I love it until I come across a tasty,stale (it's supposed to be stale) vanilla-almond spiced biscuit.I have found a biscotti recipe that has won my heart and guess what! the most appealing quality about this biscotti is that it gets better with time.Like wine,but not alcoholic...or liquid or made from grapes...geez get with it woman,I need more caffeine.
The biscotti of my past has been just ok and served its purpose.It's been a little sustenance alongside my cup of coffee,fair enough.The biscotti I made two weeks back was more than ok,sweet,simple,and just enough crunch to make you ok with eating stale bread.
The Mom's Big Book of Baking is a great,extensive cookbook filled with all kinds of baking adventures to be had by one and all. I have made a few recipes from it so far and the biscotti is the stand-out! And whoever "mom" is, gave some props to "dad"'s his biscotti recipe.Well done man.
The dough is easy enough to make.It was a bit dry so I added a tablespoon or two of heavy cream just to make it come together a little better.
Toast some almonds,that crispy brown tasty coating will give these biscotti some depth.Yes, biscotti can have depth and these roasted,toasted almonds handle this for you.Now chop those nuts up and fold them into your dough.
Sling some flour on a large cutting board and unload the dough on the work surface. Flour is the key here,the dough could get a bit sticky.
Pat the dough onto the work surface and divide in half.Then shape the dough into 2 flats logs measuring about 12 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide.Keep slinging flour as you move the dough around it will help in transporting the logs onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake those jokers on a prepared baking sheet at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and take them out to cool completely.Here's the convenient part...sort of: You have to bake them again after they cool completely,so I did the first half of the baking one night,let them cool overnight and then the next night finished up.The next step is preheating the oven to 325 degrees,slice the cooled/baked biscotti logs into 1-inch strips,lay them in rows on the same baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. They need to be crisp on the edges,but not burnt.
See the thing is the batch of biscotti was soft for a day or two,not the crunchy-edged coffee shop stuff I was used to,then a few days after that,BAM! take me bake to my coffee-slingin' days,the biscotti had arrived! The flavors in this recipe are just priceless and makes a cup of coffee for me just perfect. The biscotti is subtle,simple and a nice.Kinda like me after coffee... 
Dad's Italian Biscotti
adapted slightly from The Mom's Big of Baking
written by Lauren Chattman
page 133
1 cup whole almonds with skins
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract ( I used 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a large baking sheet and toast them until fragrant;about 6-8 minutes. Set them aside to cool. When they have cooled,coarsely chop them.Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour,sugar,baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.(Now you can make this one by hand as the recipe continues on to say,the mixer is handy too for this recipe)Add 2 of the whole eggs,the egg yolks and vanilla and almond extracts.Mix together on a low speed until just combined.If the dough is not coming together well add 1-3 TBL of heavy cream,just enough to combine the ingredients. Fold in the almonds.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a flat log about 12 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet several inches apart.
4. Beat the remaining whole egg and brush it over the dough. Bake the logs until they are firm to the touch,about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to col completely.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Transfer the logs to a cutting surface and cut them into 1-inch thick slices. Lay the slices cut side down on the baking sheet and return them to the oven. Bake them until they are crisp,about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let them cool completely. The biscotti will keep in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

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