RECIPE: Almond Biscotti

This is a simple version of the cookies known as biscotti (or cantucci in Tuscany), that are served after meals, usually with a glass of sweet wine, into which they’re dunked to soften. (For my son and his friends, the beverage of choice is hot chocolate—they think dunking is really cool.) A good many variations of this recipe are 
possible. For example, you could mix in a little chopped crystallized ginger, or chocolate chips, or a sprinkling of cinnamon, or fennel seeds. If you want the cookies somewhat softer, just skip the second baking; the loaves can be sliced a few minutes after they’re taken out of the oven, and the cookies laid on a wire rack to cool.

makes about 24 cookies

1 cup whole almonds
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups superfine sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned, just 3 or 4 minutes. (Remember, they’ll keep cooking for 2 or 3 minutes after being removed from the oven, so be careful not to left them get too brown.) Pour onto a plate to cool, then chop roughly.

Place the flour into a large bowl. Add the baking soda, sugar, salt, and almonds, and stir well (a whisk does a good job of blending it). Add the eggs and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft, elastic dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 6 pieces. Shape each portion into a small loaf about 4 inches long, 2-1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch high. Place the loaves on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake the loaves until they are a light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut the loaves crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices on the baking sheet (you may have to do this in 2 batches).

Return to the oven and bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. They will keep in a airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
(from my book "The Wine Lover Cooks Italian"

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