By far, my favourite cookie is the twice-baked Italian cookie known as biscotti. For the longest time though, I felt too intimidated to even attempt baking them at home. Plus, here in Montrèal, we are spoiled with choice when it comes to fine Italian bakeries so it was far too convenient to buy them. But once a friend showed me how easy it was to make biscotti at home, there was no turning back.
The best part about homemade is that you can adjust the recipe to your tastebuds. Over the years, I’ve experimented with various ingredients and have a few favourite combinations. But there was one type of almond biscotti that I would buy but never managed to successfully re-create its texture at home. However, that changed when I tried this lovely recipe over at Marisa’s Italian Kitchen. I knew that this recipe, as perfect as it is, was also just a few changes away from that particular almond biscotti recipe. I think it’s the use of almond meal that does the trick; it gives a subtle, nutty flavour but also gives it a more drier and airy texture. I also use spelt flour as I often do for biscotti. I find that spelt lends itself wonderfully to making a dry cookie such as biscotti. Like the original, these are still flavoured with orange and anise seed but slightly on the not-so-sweet side.
Almond and Anise Biscotti (adapted from Marisa’s Italian Kitchen)
(yields about 3 dozen biscotti)
- 250 g (approximately 1 3/4 cups) spelt flour
- 30 g (approximately 1/3 cup) whole almond meal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp anise seed, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100 g (approximately 1/2 cup) sugar
- 80 g butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 50 g (approximately 1/2 cup) blanched and sliced almonds
- zest of 1 orange
- Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
- In a bowl, combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, anise seed and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until well blended.
- Whisk eggs into the butter-sugar mixture (I do it manually).
- Stir in sliced almonds and orange zest.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and form into a dough by hand. Do not knead.
- Divide the dough into 3 portions and shape each into a log.
- Line the logs, 2 inches apart, on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the logs are slightly browned on top.
- Remove from sheet and let cool completely on a rack.
- Cut each log at a diagonal into slices that are 1/2 – 3/4 inches wide. (Using a serrated knife helps a lot!)
- Line each biscotti (upright) onto a baking sheet and bake another 12-15 minutes until they are crisp.