The holidays are coming and, if you’re like me, you’re starting to plan ahead to avoid the December rush. Biscotti makes a great hostess gift for dinner parties, a lovely accompaniment to a gift of freshly roasted coffee beans (*coughBytownBeanerycough*), or as a sweet indulgence for yourself when assembling childrens’ gifts late on Christmas Eve. It keeps well and can be made fresh up to a week in advance of gifting. Alternately, you can make, cut and freeze the cookies, and then thaw and dip in chocolate just prior to gifting.
While these can’t be made too far in advance, November (or earlier!) is a great time to start sourcing some funky serving plates, vintage tins, or other repurposed storage containers for gifting these. Would you believe that the handmade stoneware plate in the picture above was bought for $0.50 at a local rummage sale?
This recipe is a basic one that I change up every year. If you are adding both nuts and fruit, a 50/50 ratio works best.
(for approximately 2 dozen cookies)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract (sometimes I use vanilla or mint instead)
1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
1 egg white
(to make chocolate biscotti, you also need to add 3/8 cup cocoa powder and an extra egg)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a heavy, large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flours, baking powder, (cocoa powder, if making chocolate biscotti) and salt in a medium bowl, whisking to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, 2 eggs (3, if making chocolate biscotti), and almond extract in large bowl until well blended. Mix in flour mixture, and then the dried nuts and fruits.
Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each portion into a log approximately 2 1/2″ wide, 9 1/2″ long, and 1″ high. Transfer both logs to your prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly from the sides and from each other. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy. Brush the egg white on the top and sides of each log.
Bake until golden brown (logs will spread), about 35 minutes. Cool completely on racks. Maintain oven temperature.
Transfer logs to work surface and, using a serrated knife, cut logs on the diagonal into 1/2″ wide slices. Arrange these slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, then turn them over. Bake for 5 minutes more, then remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
Melt the baking chocolate according to package directions. Carefully brush the loose crumbs from each piece of biscotti prior to dippings, then place on rack or on parchment until the chocolate coating has hardened. Transfer to containers, placing a piece of parchment between each layer.