Crunch time

The Baltimore Sun

With their Italian name, their panoply of flavor options and their crunchy exterior made for dunking, biscotti might seem too exotic to attempt at home. But Shirley Coleman, a chef instructor at Baltimore International College, says that's a misconception.

"They're actually very easy to make," she says. "Biscotti reminds me of a sugar cookie, just baked in a different way. You can add anything you like to biscotti - chocolate chips, cranberries."

Or citrus zest, which gives these biscotti from Coleman a touch of spring. She's combined lemon, lime and orange zests for extra zing, along with almonds and almond extract.

To get the familiar curve of coffeehouse biscotti, Coleman slightly flattens her logs of dough, then carefully tapers the edges with her fingers. She brushes the dough with an egg wash before its first baking, then slices the logs into cookies to be baked again, for a shorter time at a lower temperature.

That makes the cookies crisp, and confers another advantage: "They last forever."

Citrus Biscotti

Makes about 16 cookies

1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs (divided use)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon each: lemon zest, lime zest (see note)

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add zests, almonds and extract. Dough will be stiff.

Divide the dough in half, shaping each half in a log about 8 to 9 inches long. Slightly flatten the logs, tapering the sides. Slightly beat the remaining egg and brush over dough. Bake for 20 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Slice each log crosswise into cookies. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Lay cut side down on a baking pan and bake an additional 8 minutes, until the cookies are crisp and slightly brown.

Note: For the zest, use only the colored outer portion of the fruit. The white pith is bitter.

Courtesy of Shirley Coleman, chef instructor at Baltimore International College

Per cookie: 157 calories, 4 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 76 milligrams sodium

How it's done

1. Make the dough by creaming butter and sugar, then add eggs.

2. Add zest and almonds to the dough.

3. Slightly flatten logs, then taper the edges to give cookies a curved shape. Bake the logs at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

4. Slice each log into cookies. Bake at 300 degrees, cut side down, for 8 more minutes.

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