Makes about 40 small biscotti
Every region of Italy has its own version of biscotti, and these plain and simple twice-baked cookies from Calabria are great for the home baker. They are tasty and crumbly, and I like the accent of the toasted sliced almonds. When you cut the logs of dough after the first baking, you’ll likely have crumbs and some broken pieces, but don’t throw them away. Save them to sprinkle over ice cream or poached fruit, or to fold into a zabaglione—they add crunch and a sweet taste to all kinds of desserts.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- A big pinch kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
- ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup toasted sliced almonds (3½ ounces)
You will need a standing electric mixer with paddle attachment; a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper; wire cooling racks; a sharp, serrated knife. For the cookie dough: Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Crack the eggs into the mixer bowl, and add the sugar. Start the mixer on low speed, and beat until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase to medium speed, and beat for a couple of minutes, until the sugar and eggs are pale yellow and fluffy; beat in the lemon zest and vanilla.
Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and dump in the flour, baking powder, and salt all at once. Mix on low speed to form a crumbly dough. Increase to medium speed, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, and beat until the dough forms a ball. Stop the machine, spill in the sliced almonds, and mix on low for just a few seconds, to incorporate the nuts.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 2 inches thick and 12 inches long. Arrange the logs on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile (or later, when you’re ready to bake the cookies), arrange a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees. Bake the sheet of chilled logs for about 40 minutes, until the dough is lightly colored and set, rotating the sheet front to back during baking to ensure even cooking. With a long metal spatula, transfer the logs to wire racks, and let them cool for about 30 minutes.
For the second baking, have the oven at 350º. Slice the dough logs on a cutting board with the serrated knife, cutting diagonally to form oval biscotti about ⅓ inch thick. Lay the cookies flat in rows on the baking sheet (lined with the same parchment paper), and set it in the oven.
Bake the biscotti for 7 minutes, remove the pan, and quickly flip them over. Return the sheet to the oven (rotated back to front), and bake another 7 minutes or so, until the cookies are crisp, crunchy, and golden. Transfer them to wire racks, and let them cool completely before serving. Store biscotti in an airtight container lined with wax paper; they will keep 2 to 3 weeks.