As most of you know, I’m crazy for all things Italian. It sort of borders on an obsession, but is that really so bad when it involves a country with centuries of mind blowing art, countryside and towns so beautiful that they will make you cry and food that is worthy of abandoning whatever diet you think you’re on? If I can’t be there, the next best thing is inject a little bit of Italy into each and every day. From my morning cappuccino to the olive oil on our nightly salad, it’s all Italy all the time.
I’ve been day dreaming about the pasticcini (little pastries) that you can find in pastry shops all over the country. Each just a bite or two, but oh, what an incredible bite that is. These biscotti (cookies) take me right back to a shop that I used to visit in Arezzo. The recipe comes from pastry chef Gina de Palma and I did write about them some time ago, but they’re so good, this recipe is worth repeating. I have to admit that this batch was probably my best effort-I left them in the oven just a little bit longer so the nuts were nicely toasted and the cookies a bit more crispy-perfect for dipping in my cappuccino.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, separated
Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups blanched, sliced almonds
In a bowl whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk, followed by the lemon zest and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed to make a stiff dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until it is firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or butter them). Place the almonds in a bowl. In another shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg white with a fork until frothy.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the others wrapped and refrigerated. Roll the piece of dough into a narrow log 1/2″ in diameter. Cut the log into cylinders about 1-1/2 ” long. Roll each cylinder into egg white and then into sliced almonds to coat. Place on prepared sheets, spacing them about 1/2″ apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake the cookies until they are firm and the almonds are lightly golden brown, 14-16 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time. Allow the cookies to cool on sheets for 1-2 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them gently to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the cookies generously with confectioners sugar.
Store between layers of parchment in airtight container. Yield: about 4 dozen