Homemade Vanilla and Almond Biscotti

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vanilla and almond biscotti

It's not every day I get to eat the food in my posts while writing my posts. Today, bliss of all bliss!, is one of those days and I am quite happily munching on a piece of homemade vanilla and almond biscotti--my first attempt at these tasty Italian cookies that usually accompany a steaming cup of tea or mug of coffee.

Cutting back on caffeine due to the pregnancy, I'm enjoying my biscotti with a few freshly washed grapes and some juice, and while I have refrained from dipping it in the juice, the texture of the biscotti tells me it would be fabulous dipped in milky coffee or tea.

 So, first off, I probably broke (and have a tendency to do so) the cardinal rule of baking, opting to use granulated sugar even when certain recipes call for caster sugar. At least this time, rationale lurks amongst my madness! You see, I think something that is full of texture and is supposed to have a rough elegance and look like its really been through the grindstone (like biscotti) needs the harsh, rough edges of granulated sugar.

Unlike a doughnut that just goes soft, when you dip a biscotti in your tea or coffee, you want to know it's there. You want to come across that nifty little crunch of almond or sugar and feel like everything is right with the world. At least, I do. Although, you may argue I put too much stock in the rejuvenating and stability-inducing effects of my food. :) So, for that reason (and because I refuse to buy caster sugar and because I would have been too lazy to pulse granulated sugar in my food processor to make it into caster sugar) I used granulated sugar.

Alright, enough with my evangelizing you and trying to convert you into a non caster sugar user! Here's what you need to make yummy biscotti at home:
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
200 g flour
175 g granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
150 g whole blanched almonds
vanilla sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C/355F.

Once you have all that on your counter, you need to roughly chop the almonds, leaving some whole. Of course, this seems like a waste of time, when you could have just bought blanched almond pieces, and to be honest, if it's going to cause you grief, chopping the little fellows up, then go ahead and buy the pieces. Whatever floats your boat and makes your cooking experience easier.

Next, you want to combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, mixing in the almonds.

Beat the eggs with the vanilla extract in a separate bowl and then add to the floury mixture. Combine to form a dough either by hand or using a food processor. Knead lightly and place onto a silicone baking tray or a lined baking tray in the shape of a log. Sprinkle vanilla sugar all over the dough, as much as you' like.

Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once the first 20 minutes is up, allow to cool slightly.  Which means, when it's warm enough for you to touch, begin slicing it into pieces as thick or as thin as you'd like. Reduce the heat on the heaven to 160C/320F. Lay the pieces on their side on the baking tray and stick back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Let cool & enjoy with your favorite hot drink.

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