Biscotti…Biscotti di Prato…Cantuccini, now universally familiar, but originating in pre-Roman times as a simple bread that was easy to store and transport. Biscotti that we know today, reappeared out of the past with adaptations to accommodate modern tastes in the 19th century and has been evolving ever since.
Essentially twice baked “biscuits” biscotti is dry and crispy and enjoyed dipped into sweet wines after a meal or with coffee or teas. The basics of the recipe beg for imaginative adaptations, including additions of various grains, dried fruits, nuts, spices, and zests.
Biscotti is easy to make and once you have the basics down you are can bake these delightful sweet or savory bites to compliment any occasion.
Almond Orange Fig Biscotti Makes 4 dozen
Preheat oven to 325F/165C
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1 ½ cup (7 ½ oz) unbleached flour
- 1/4 cup ( 1 ¼ oz) cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar + more for dusting
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cups unblanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 cup of chopped dried figs(any type)
- 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
Before getting started gather and prepare your ingredients.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and cook for several minutes until it begins to brown. Strain the butter into a bowl and add the orange zest and anise seeds and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix together well and make a well in the center of the flour and add 2 whisked eggs , vanilla extract, almond extract, and the butter mixture. Mix everything together with a large spoon until the ingredients come together into a loose ball. At this point it is easiest to knead the dough using your hands for several minutes to condense the dough. Add the chopped unblanched almonds and the chopped figs and work them into the dough with your hands.
Once everything is combined move the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Knead both pieces for a few minutes to condense the dough, and then roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 12 inches in length x 2 inches in diameter. Flatten the top of the cylinder down to about 3/4 of an inch and square off the sides and the ends, creating a long slender loaf. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
Brush the surface of the loaves with the remaining whisked egg and push the blanched slivered almonds onto the top surface and dust with additional sugar.
Place the loaves, with ample space between each, on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the tray once for even baking. Remove from the oven and place the loaves on a cooling rack for 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200F/100C
Using a seriated knife, gently cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices on the diagonal and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes, turning the biscotti over once so they dry and crisp evenly on both sides.
Remove from the oven and place the biscotti on a cooling rack. Once they are completely cool you may store the biscotti in an airtight container for up to a week. They are best frozen for longer storage.
Serve with a sweet wine after a meal or with coffee or tea at any time!