'In' thing: biscotti dunk


Biscotti, a cross between a cookie and melba toast, are catching the coffee-drinking wave to success.

"I think it's all kind of tied to the interest in coffee, exotic coffee, dunking," says Marty Friedman, editor of New Product News, of biscotti's newfound popularity.

"It's the 'in' baked good this year," he says, noting that about a dozen companies introduced varieties in 1992.

Not that you'll find them in your local grocery store just yet. Although some grocery stores have been carrying biscotti, most are sold at gourmet shops or served at upscale restaurants with specialty coffee drinks.

Biscotti come from Italy, where they are a traditional dunker with coffee or wine.

The cookies are baked first as a long, skinny loaf, which is then sliced and baked again. Hard to the bite, they immediately soften to a pleasing texture when dunked.

If you're reluctant to make your own, Mr. Friedman predicts manufacturers will be producing their own versions in a matter of months.

Biscotti di pratto

1/4 to 1/3 cup blanched almonds

3/4 cup natural whole almonds

4 eggs (divided use)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, roast both kinds of almonds until blanched almonds start to brown, shaking occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove blanched almonds, place in blender and pulverize. Set aside.

Meanwhile, return whole almonds to oven 2 to 3 minutes longer. Remove and chop whole almonds roughly with a knife, leaving large chunks. Set aside.

Turn oven down to 300 degrees. Grease baking sheet and dust with flour; set aside.

In a small bowl, beat 3 eggs, vanilla and almond extract together.

In larger bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and pulverized almonds. Make a well in the center and add egg mixture, blending to gradually incorporate all flour mixture. You should have a stiff dough. If it is too stiff to hold together, add a little water. Add the crushed almonds and knead them evenly into the dough.

Divide dough into 3 portions. Form each into a long, round or slightly oval log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It will flatten out as it bakes. Place on prepared baking sheet. Beat remaining egg and brush onto all exposed log surfaces. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Turn oven down to 275 degrees. With serrated knife, cut logs into 1/4 -inch slices. Lay biscotti flat on 2 cookie sheets. Return to oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning over halfway through baking time. (If oven is small, you may do 1 sheet at a time.) Remove from oven. Allow to cool completely before sealing in containers. Will stay fresh up to a month. Makes about 6 dozen.

Per cookie: calories: 42; fat: 2 grams; cholesterol: 12 milligrams; sodium: 17 milligrams; percent calories from fat: 34 percent.

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