I have to admit that until I became a cappuccino drinker, I was never much of a biscotti fan. Every “coffee house” seems to have a big jar of biscotti on the counter, sometimes they are even individually prepackaged. To be honest, I can’t remember ever being wowed by any of these (except at the wonderful bakery where I worked years ago)-most of them seemed stale. There used to be a good Italian restaurant in downtown San Diego where they baked their own walnut biscotti-they just tasted incredibly fresh and I would stop by and buy an order of them to go whenever I happened to be in the city, but these had more of a crumbly texture rather than a crunchy one.
Then I visited Italy, fell for cappuccino and sampled the almond “cantucci” in Tuscany (“cantucci” are what we call biscotti-biscotti actually means “cookies” in Italian). I brought bags of them home with me and tried to relive my Italian holiday. Once the cantucci were gone, I knew I had to start baking my own. I scoured my recipe files and came up with an Gourmet magazine article from years ago that contained a variety of recipes. I guess you could call me a biscotti purist. My favorites are the simplest-those with almond.
Biscotti di Greve
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups whole almonds,toasted and coarsely chopped
egg wash-1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
In bowl of electric mixture fitted with paddle, blend flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and combine well. In small bowl whisk together eggs, yolk and vanilla and add to flour mixture, blend until dough is formed and add almonds. If your dough seems too dry, add the remaining egg white.
Turn dough onto lightly floured board, knead several times and halve . With floured hands form each piece into a flattish log, about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide and place on parchemnt lined baking sheet. Brush logs with egg wash.
Bake the logs on 300 degree oven for 50 minutes and the let them cool on a baking sheet for 10 minutes.
On a cutting board cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices, arrange cut sides down on baking sheet and bake them for 15 minutes on each side.
Transfer to cooling racks and cool. Store in airtight container. Makes about 48 biscotti.
You can vary this recipe by changing the nuts (I love them with hazelnuts) or by adding freshly grated orange zest or chocolate chips. Use your imagination!