Italian Biscotti from Tuscany
Biscotti in Italian means twice (bis) cooked (cotto). They are cookies that are first baked into a log, then sliced and toasted. You can find biscotti everywhere in Italy, but my favorite biscotti are the ones from Tuscany. Whenever I’m in Tuscany, one of the first things I do is buy a bag of these to have around for snack time. They are tooth-breaking crunchy, studded with almonds and perfect for dipping into the local sweet wine Vin Santo, holy wine.
Because these cookies, also known as cantucci, are such perfect companions with Vin Santo, they end many Tuscan meals. My family actually loves these for breakfast and dips them in espresso instead. Whether dipped or alone, they are crunchy, nutty and a great end, or beginning, to any meal.
Biscotti from Tuscany
(Makes about 40 biscotti)
3 1/2 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups (450 grams) granulated sugar plus about 4 tablespoons
4 eggs plus 1 egg white
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 2 cups (9 ounces/250 grams) almonds, toasted
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together the 2 1/4 cups sugar and 4 eggs until the mixture is pale in color. Add the honey, almond and vanilla extract and combine. Stir in half the flour mixture, stopping just when the flour is almost all incorporated. Stir in the remaining flour mixture just until the flour is almost incorporated and add the almonds. Mix into the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease two baking sheets.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into four equal pieces. On a very lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a log 1 inch in width and 10-12 inches in length. Place two logs on each baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and turn the temperature to 250ºF. Cool for 10 minutes, then slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick cookies. Lay the cookies flat onto the baking sheets and put back in the oven for 20 minutes to dry the cookies out. Serve with Vin Santo or espresso.