Friday, May 13, 2011

White Chocolate Almond Biscotti

 95% of the time when I make a batch of cookies, I subtract at least two minutes from the suggested baking time.  Why?  Soft, chewy, gooey, and delicious cookies are almost always way better than the careful-don't-crack-your-teeth kind that I always associate with interminable meetings, eating them just because they're there.  I've also found that the crunching action and associated crumb clean-up helps you stay awake in the mid-afternoon slump.  But an enjoyable cookie eating experience it is not.

And until recently I thought that biscotti, crunchy by definition, also fell into this undesirable category.  What I didn't consider, however, is the hot-beverage-dunk/transformative-phase-change factor in which the biscotti become wonderfully soft, warm, and melt in your mouth after they are dunked in tea or coffee.  A similar hot-beverage-dunk/transformative-phase-change factor turned me onto plain donuts 20 years ago and I've never looked back (except for Boston cream of course).  Anyone remember when plain donuts used to be made with a bonus dunking handle?  Apparently this dates me.

Anyway, the genius of biscotti is two-fold: the oblong design ensures that the cookie exposed to moisture is limited to a bite size, and the double baking process ensures that it doesn't immediately suffer from the inedible mushiness that befalls your average vanilla wafer.

So I have a new appreciation for biscotti.  They probably won't surpass my favorites, but they certainly have a place at 3pm with a cuppa. This recipe is only lightly sweet so you don't feel like it's too much of an indulgence.  They're also gorgeous with a white chocolate drizzle, last for weeks in an airtight container, and make a great gift for all the moms in your life when paired with chai concentrate.  It's really giving the gift of an afternoon break and relaxation, which is basically the same as a spa gift certificate without the associated cost or anxiety.

White Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Adapted from

Makes 24-30 cookies
Total time: 2 hours (Active time 30 minutes)

  •  1/4 cup (55g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (170g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (from about 1 1/2 large oranges)
  • 2 teaspoons (10mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz (110g) white chocolate, chopped and divided (about 1/2 c of chips)
  • 1/2 cup (80g) dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1 1/4 cups (140g) slivered almonds, toasted

Beat together butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, then gradually add the dry to the wet mixture.  Stir in 3/4 of the white chocolate, dried cranberries/raisins, and slivered almonds.  Cover and chill in the fridge until the dough is solid enough to handle (30-60 minutes).

Pre-heat oven to 325F/165C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Divide dough in two and form each half into a log roughly 3 x 12" (8 x 30cm) and arrange them on the parchment with at least one log's space between the two.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cool on baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

Cut the baked logs crosswise on a diagonal into roughly 1"/2cm slices (you should have about 12 per log) using with a serrated knife in a smooth downward motion to avoid crumbling.  Arrange slices evenly back on the baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes until golden(er).  Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Optional (but looks really cool) white chocolate drizzle:  Melt the remaining 1oz of white chocolate in a double boiler (or microwave) until smooth.  Use a fork to quickly drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the biscotti until evenly covered.  Let stand at room temperature until cool.


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