I began making biscotti about 14 years ago. I can’t quite remember what prompted me to start what quickly became a favorite holiday tradition but what I do vividly recall is my then 18 month old son intently watching me prepare the biscotti with his big, round eyes.
He would ride around the kitchen on my back in a little baby-backpack while I cooked… the making of the biscotti always seemed extra special for him. This very same son, who is now 6′ 2″, still asks me when we are going to make the Christmas biscotti. I love that. Even though there is no association with biscotti and the holidays in Italy, for me there always will be.
Making them is easy. You don’t have to be a real baker for success. This recipe is for the genuine and historically correct article and are very different from the Americanized version that are widely available now in many coffee shops. These biscotti are hard- really hard. They are always served with a sweet desert wine like Vin Santo or Aleatico so that they can be moistened before enjoying.
BISCOTTI DI PRATO (adapted from a recipe of Giuliano Bugialli*)
- 2 oz blanched almonds
- 6 oz unblanched almonds
- 4 cups unbleached flour (just get rid of all the bleached flour in your house)
- 2 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of saffron (but don’t be too stingy here)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg white beaten (for glazing the cookies)
Toast all the almonds in a 375 oven for 15 minutes. Combine 1 oz of each of the blanched and unblanched almonds and grind these finely. Chop the balance of the almonds into coarse pieces. Combine the remaining ingredients, adding the flour slowly. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Add all of the almonds and knead for another 2-4 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll the parts into logs that are about ¾ inch in diameter. Brush the dough with egg white. Bake for 20 minutes at 375. Remove and slice at 45 degree angles into pieces that are about 1-2” long. Bake for an additional 35-40 minutes at 275. The biscotti will be very dry and hard, and this is correct.
STORAGE; Wait until they are fully cooled before you store them. Keep them in a air-tight container.
TO ENJOY; I recommend the tradition Italian pairing of biscotti with some Vin Santo. Dip to moisten and then consume.
*FOOTNOTE; For those of you who are not familiar with Giuliano Bugialli, he was a ‘Celebrity Chef’ before the term was coined…(at least in my family). He is widely known for his knowledge about the histories of the Italian traditions. Bugialli not only provides direction for some amazingly delicious traditional Italian fare but the background of the regional specialties being prepared.