There are as many recipes as there are variations of biscotti, the lovely twice-baked cookie traditionally served alongside a coffee in Italy. Many of these are modern takes on the classic cookie which would only have almonds tucked into the dough.
Biscotti di Prato—to give them their full name—come from Prato in Tuscany. There, the cookies have a more rustic appearance, made without any oil or butter and cooked to a golden brown, then cooled slightly and rebaked to increase not just their crunch, but also their shelf life. When stored in an airtight jar or box, biscotti will keep for several weeks.
Biscotti, or cantucci as you will also hear them referred to in Tuscany, may now be dipped into a hot, bitter espresso coffee or a sweet caffe latte, but the Tuscans prefer them dunked into Vin Santo, a sweet after-dinner wine famously made by monks but any sweet wine will work as well.
- 9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces fine sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 fresh, free-range eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 ounces unblanched almonds (skin on and chopped)
- For the Glaze:
- 1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon milk for glaze (mixed together)
- 1 tablespoon fine sugar
In a stand mixer or in a baking bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, whole eggs, and the yolk, beating together to form a smooth dough.
Add the chopped skin-on almonds and using your fingers, gently knead the nuts into the mixture.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a ball and divide into 4 evenly sized pieces.
Roll each quarter of dough into even-sized cigar-shaped logs 2 inches wide and 6 inches long.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Cover a heavy baking sheet with lightly greased baking parchment, sit the logs on the sheet making sure they are at least 2 inches apart (they will spread when cooking and you need each log to stay separate).
Paint the glaze all over the surface and sides of the logs using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with the fine sugar.
Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
Lower the oven to 300 F.
Cut the logs into 1-inch slices while still warm. Lay each slice back on the baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove from the tray and place onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
Store the biscotti in an airtight container and they will keep for several weeks, though they're so delicious they will probably be eaten long before that time.
Though this is a recipe for the traditional biscotti with almonds, you may want to vary the recipe from time to time. A few suggestions that won't compromise the cookies too much: substitute the chopped almonds for chocolate chips, or dried mixed fruits, pieces of dried apricots or figs.