Source: Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies (Random House, 1995 ed.), pg. 17.
Two firsts for me - making biscotti and blanching almonds. I've noticed that a lot of Maida's recipes call for blanched almonds. It is a simple, albeit time-consuming chore. If you are new to blanching almonds as well, all you do is bring a pan of water to a boil, remove it and place your almonds in the water. Let them sit for one minute, pour out the water and place the almonds on a towel. The skins will pop out when you squeeze them. A method that worked well for me was standing the almonds upright and slightly pushing down on the tips. I found that skins came off much easier this way.
The whole biscotti recipe is a long process. It bakes twice, the first go-around for one hour and the last time for 40 minutes. However, putting it together is not that difficult and you have a lot of down time during the baking sessions. Biscotti is addictive and it keeps well and makes a nice present for the holidays. Maida notes that if you prefer your biscotti softer, you can place it in a sealed paper bag for two or three days.
The first chapter of "Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies" is devoted to biscotti with about ten different recipes. So, if you are a biscotti lover, there is more to come!
This recipe makes about 50 pieces.
7 oz. (1 1/3 cups) whole blanched (skinned) almonds
7 oz. milk chocolate (Hershey's Symphony bar or other)
1 3/4 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process recommended)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Toast the almonds in a shallow pan at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice. Set aside to cool.
|Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a food processor. |
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa and sugar. Add about a cup of this mixture to the chocolate.
|Process for about 30 seconds, until the chocolate is fine and powdery.|
Add the processed chocolate mixture to the remaining sifted ingredients. Stir in the almonds.
|Beat the eggs in a small bowl with the vanilla just enough to mix.|
|Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.|
|This will be a tad difficult to stir. A wooden spoon is recommended. Keep at it until it is well mixed.|
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough (it will be sticky) and transfer it to the baking sheets. Maida recommends placing them diagonally on the sheets. I'm am not sure what the reasoning is behind this but I did it anyway!
Bake for 1 hour, reversing the sheets front to bar and top to bottom to ensure even baking. During baking, the strips will spread out about 7 or 8 inches.
After 1 hour, remove the sheets from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 275. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the strips to a board. Use a serrated bread knife to cut the strips crosswise into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide.
Now place the cut slices on unlined cookie sheets, standing upright. Bake for an additional 40 minutes, again reversing the sheets front and back, top and bottom about halfway through.
Cool and store in an airtight container.