Monday, 3 December 2007

Vanilla Almond Biscotti

Last Saturday night, on impulse, I baked a batch of biscotti using Donna Hay's recipe from Modern Classics II, to give away to my friends whom I would be meeting the following day. It was my first late night baking session as it was already past 10 o'clock at night when I started working on these Italian cookies.

I was first introduced to biscotti when I visited the US several years ago. They tasted so good dipping into a hot cup of coffee! Ever since then, whenever I have the chance to visit my sister in the States, I would bring back a huge tub of chocolate-coated almond biscotti from Costco. There was once I even brought home a big cookie jar that was given free with the biscotti! The beautiful cookie jar is still sitting on my kitchen counter :)


This is my second attempt at baking biscotti. From that first attempt, and also after reading a few bloggers' baking experiences with these cookies, I got a better idea how to handle the dough this time round. I didn't make a mess even though the dough was equally wet and sticky as the one I tried on my previous attempt. In fact both recipes are quite similar, there is also no butter used in this one. (I learned that those recipes that have got butter added would yield a more manageable dough.) I didn't follow the instructions as stated in the recipe to knead the dough on a floured surface. I knew it would be a total waste of time to try to wrestle with a giant sticky, gooey mess, which looks more like a muffin batter than a cookie dough!

If you are keen to try baking your first batch of biscotti, do hop over to Cooking For Engineers to get a better idea. It is such a fantastic website, very informative and the recipes are all completed with many step-by-step illustrations.



After I got all the biscotti baked, it was already past mid-night. I only managed to coat them with melted chocolate the next morning. It was a tricky thing to work with chocolate in our weather. The chocolate set quite fast after I left them in the fridge for a short while. However, when I was trying to pack them into cookie bags, the chocolate started to melt away quickly :(


In the end, I had to wrap each biscotto with a strip of parchment paper to prevent the chocolate from smudging all over the place.

Judging from the very basic ingredients used in these biscotti, I must say they tasted quite bland if eaten plain. The taste only got better after they were dunk into a cup of coffee :) My better half likes these very much though. He would pinch one slice every time he pass by the kitchen.


Ingredients:
(makes 30~40)

2 cups (250g) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
3/4 cup whole almonds
3 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degC (325 degF).
  2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and almonds in a bowl and mix together.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla. With a spatula, mix and fold to form a soft sticky dough. The mixture will be very sticky and wet, and resembles a batter rather than a dough.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using the spatula, scoop half the amount of the dough and place it on onside of the baking sheet. Spread and shape with spatula to form a log about 10 by 3 inches in size. Spread and shape the other half of the dough into another log, space the two logs well apart.
  5. Bake for 35mins and remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely.
  6. With a sharp serrated knife, slice the logs into 1/2inch (1cm) thick slices.
  7. Place the slices on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10~15mins or until the biscotti are crisp.
  8. Let cool and store in air-tight container.
  9. Optional: melt 100g of baking chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Dip each biscotto into the melted chocolate and leave on a lined tray to set.

32 comments:

  1. Your biscotti looks fabulous!
    Lucky ones will receive these goody bags, I can tell. ;)

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  2. hey, this is random but when whipping non-dairy whipping cream, is it the same as the ready made whipped cream available in supermarkets? can i just use that instead of whipping the cream?

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  3. That looks crunchy. I guess when you need to bake something well, you just have to do it even by midnight :-)

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  4. Hi Pat, thanks!

    Kat, the ready made whipped cream (that comes in a can?) is different from the dairy/non-dairy whipping cream. If you are thinking of frosting an entire cake, you will need to whip either the dairy or non-dairy whipping cream. If I am not wrong, the ready made whipped cream are usually used as toppings for beverages or ice cream.

    Hi InspiredMumof2, yes I agree with you :D

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  5. lovely biscotti :D
    i like the idea that they're coated with chocolate.
    yumyum

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  6. Nice biscotti. Wow, more best if you dip it in coffee or hot chocolate.

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  7. I'd love to try these biscotti! I have not made before..hopefully i can manage it. Great idea to wrap with parchment paper :) Now I know what to do if I have to pack them in plastic bags. Btw, I realised I have the same cookie bag too! hehe...I love buying these cute little bags..even though I have not use them yet. :P

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  8. hi Sweet Tooth, thanks!

    Sue Sue, yes, they taste better dunk into a cup of coffee...but I must say, they are not great as compared to those I bought from the States.

    Aimei, hehe, I think we simply cannot resist but to stock up on these cute items right? I got mine quite cheap too...a pack in medium size is $1.50. I have seem other places selling at $2.50!

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  9. Biscotti are wonderful. I love that you dipped yours in chocolate. I hear you about temperamental weather. We're so humid that I can't make meringue or divinity.

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  10. this is my fave biscotti recipie!! i have tried several variations
    1/4 cup of the flour can be substituted with cocoa powder for chocolate biscotti and you can also substitute the almonds with 1/2 cup of cranberries and 1/2 cups of pistashio for cranberry pistachio biscotti.

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  11. Hi Nianz, thanks for the tips! I sure would like to try the cranberry pistachio combo :)

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  12. i forgot to add tht its a good idea to roughly chop the cranberries and pistachio( i usually puse them in the food processor a couple of times) before adding it to the mix as slicing would be difficult if you dont chop them up.

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  13. sooooooooon i will try it
    promise, i will tell ya about the result
    best wishes

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  14. Hi Hana, I can't wait to hear about it :D

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  15. Just FYI. The reason your chocolate started to melt was because it was not tempered... which can be difficult to do, you should look it up - tempering chocolate. Or you can buy coating chocolate at a pastry supply shop, it does not need to be tempered to set up.

    k

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  16. Hi kiki, thank you so much for your useful tips :)

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  17. Hi,

    Was wondering if u have made a mistake in the recipe to have 3 eggs?as most recipe i found uses 2 eggs for 1 cup flour.

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  18. Hi, thanks for pointing this out. I checked the recipe again, no, there is no mistake, the recipe calls for 3 eggs, and the flour amount is 2 cups. Do you think with less egg, it will affect the texture?

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  19. Hmmm....actually this is my 1st time trying out on making a biscotti.But I will be making it soon...:) i will try out 3eggs and 2 eggs recipe then let you know my comments?

    Btw, I really liked your website.Organised, clear and easy to read.Its a blessing to those who just started out baking :)

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  20. Hi, thanks for your reply :D
    I will love to hear from you! and thanks again for your kind comments :)

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  21. Thank you so much for the great biscotti recipe. Tried it yesterday..turned out nice but too hard for my liking. What can I do to make it less hard? Thank you in advance.

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  22. Hi Jeff, I am sorry I do not know how to make the biscotti softer? I too find them too hard, but once I dip it in coffee, I find the texture is just right.

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  23. Hi HHB,

    May I know if I can replace the plain flour with the same amount of self-raising flour? Thank you.

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  24. Hi, you can replace it with self raising flour, but you will need to reduce the amount of baking powder, since self raising flour has got baking powder in it. You can hop over to joyofbaking.com, there is a ingredient substitution list which you may refer.

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  25. Hi, i was planning to make this as a gift but i was wondering what is the shelf life of these if they're kept in a airtight container. any idea?

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  26. Hi, they can be kept for at least a week in an airtight container.

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  27. Hi HHB!
    I have been following your recipes for almost two years!
    I'm from Latin America and everybody that tastes my desserts loves them, all thanks to your recipes! ^^
    I was wondering, my dad really likes biscottis, crunchies and raisins.
    Is it going to have a smoother feeling if a switch white sugar with blonde or black sugar?
    For biscottis with raisins, do I use the same recipe as this one changing the almonds for raisins?

    Thanks a lot! Peace, love and bless from Andie (Argentina)

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  28. Hi hamsterandie, thanks for reading my blog :)
    I am not sure whether replacing white sugar with brown sugar will affect the texture? but it likely give a more intense taste with brown sugar. I am sorry, I have not tried using raisins for this recipe as such I am not able to comment on it.

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  29. I LOVE your biscotti photos! I am doing a book-signing for my book Coraggio! Lessons for Living from an Italian Grandmother. We will have almond biscotti at the event. I would love to use a thumbnail size copy your photo of the chocolate dipped biscotti on a flyer. May I have your permission to use the photo?
    Thank you for considering - Lisa

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  30. Hi Lisa, It is my pleasure to have my photo on your flyer, however, I will appreciate it if you could give due credit by adding a line such as "photo courtesy of happyhomebaking.blogspot.com". Thank you!

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  31. I just baked the biscotti, taste a bit hard but crunchy. I thought I can roll the dough in a log, but it turns out like a sticky batter. Thanks for your advice.
    I tried to bake bread and knead by hand but my dough is very sticky even after added the butter. I can't get elastic panel as shown in your post. What is my mistake?

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  32. Hi Esther, the bread dough is indeed sticky, but as you continue to knead it, it will no longer stick to your hands...usually takes about half an hour of continuous kneading to reach that stage.

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