An easy Italian biscotti recipe with chocolate covered almonds
If you have children, or nieces, nephews, godchildren or young’uns that belong to someone important in your life, you know the joy and stress that comes with them. When they are little, you hope that they make friends, don’t wet their pants at school, and eventually stop picking their nose. As they enter their teenage years you hope the friends they make are good ones, that they don’t drop the ball at school, and that they eventually stop picking fights with you. After surviving adolescence, young adulthood settles in and the worry, you guessed it, continues. Will they find careers and jobs they love? Will they be financially secure and independent? Will they move away? Will they come back? And eventually, will they find a partner, and will this person add joy or stress? One thing is for certain, if they come with biscotti, it’s a good sign.
When the oldest of our daughters met her boyfriend we were thrilled. Collectively, as a family, we smiled as we realized that the two of them are very much alike. They are incredibly compatible and frankly, adorable together. Alone, each of them is super smart, funny, kind and just the right amount of quirky. As a couple these lovely attributes double; they are a perfect match. Another way that they are similar is that they both come from families where one parent is Greek, and the other is not. And this friends is how this Italian biscotti recipe came into our lives.
A little while into the relationship, when the holidays would roll around, a gorgeous gift basket filled with the most delicious Italian baked goods would make its way to Helen’s house, courtesy of Anna. Mother to mother, household to household, this was the beginning of a relationship that said your kid and my kid are really not kids anymore and there is love in the air. Helen, being a generous hostess herself, would share some of these Italian treats with the rest of her family.
Although everything was delicious, the biscotti that were nestled in with the other cookies were always the first to go. We found ourselves wondering, how does Anna get this perfect biscotti texture? Dry, but not break-your-teeth-hard. What gives the special almond and chocolate flavour? The whole chocolate covered almonds in the batter do! How many of Anna’s biscotti are too many to have with your morning coffee? Not sure, but so far it’s not seven. From the very first bite we knew that we had to have this Italian biscotti recipe!
We are so grateful that Anna invited us into her home and her kitchen to share her Italian biscotti recipe with us, and you. We had such a wonderful time baking, getting to know one another better. An added perk was tasting the biscotti at their various stages of deliciousness. While we were there, we learned so much. Anna is retired, a nurse who worked for many years in pediatrics and in student health. She loves to bake, and this is so obvious when you taste the delicious desserts that she makes. Cooking with passion is always a bonus, but baking with love is almost always a necessity.
And speaking of love! Not only did we get to spend time with Anna, but the entire family was there – her husband Peter, her daughter and of course, the kids! While the ingredients were mixing, while the dough was chilling, while the biscotti were baking, we talked about all the things that unite our families. Our shared love of food, culture, tradition and cross-border shopping!
We had such a great time hanging out with Anna and her family that learning her recipe for Italian biscotti, the initial reason for our visit, seemed like the bonus.
What are Italian biscotti?
There are many varieties of biscotti and we are looking forward to sharing at least one more of Anna’s Italian biscotti recipes in the future!
How do you bake Italian biscotti?
The way to get Italian biscotti to be dry and crunchy is to bake them twice. The first time they are baked with the dough formed into a slab or log. Once cooked, this log is then cut into the individual biscotti and baked again. They are allowed to cool completely before storing them.
What is so special about this recipe?
Well, the first thing of course is that it comes from Anna! We are not exaggerating when we say that these are the best biscotti we have ever had. The Italian biscotti recipe itself is straightforward, but years of baking have allowed Anna to perfect the quantities of ingredients and the technique. The biscotti you end up with are dry, but actually soft-ish. We have had the misfortune of tasting biscotti that needed to be dunked into a warm liquid to be edible. Not these biscotti!
The other thing that makes these biscotti so delicious is that Anna uses chocolate covered almonds (she purchases the Kirkland brand from Costco) in the batter. Brilliant, and better than you can imagine.
How do you cut the biscotti?
Once the log of dough has been baked the first time, allow it to cool completely and then use a serrated knife to cut your individual biscotti. Anna taught us that a serrated knife works best, especially because you will have to cut through the chocolate covered almonds.
We also learned that the ends of the slabs of dough, after the first bake, are prized! These “cut ends” as Anna calls them are put aside to be enjoyed as their own special treat.
How do you store Italian biscotti?
Because they are dry, biscotti keep longer at room temperature (in a well sealed container) than other cookies do. Having said that, don’t expect to keep them for very long. If your families are anything like ours, these biscotti disappear fast.
If you want to make this Italian biscotti recipe and make sure you have some cookies for later (maybe for holiday baskets, or guests) you can freeze them. Place them in a container lined with parchment paper, with additional parchment paper between layers of biscotti, and freeze them. To serve, allow them to thaw at room temperature – they will be perfectly delicious.
This Italian biscotti recipe is part of our series called Xenes Kouppes. Check out some more recipes from non-Greek kitchens:
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Italian biscotti recipe
- 1 Stand mixer with paddle attachment
- Medium size mixing bowl
- 1 Serrated knife
- 3 eggs, large
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2¾ cup all purpose flour
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup chocolate covered almonds
Slivered almond topping - optional
- 1 egg white
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the eggs, sugar and olive oil and beat well on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes.3 eggs, large, 1 cup sugar, ⅓ cup olive oil
- Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl whisk together your dry ingredients.2¾ cup all purpose flour, 2½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt
- Add the grated lemon rind and the almond extract to your wet ingredients in your mixer bowl and mix well. Next, with the mixer speed set on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients. When just combined (that is, you no longer see any flour), add in the chocolate covered almonds and mix briefly until well combined.1 tbsp grated lemon rind, 1 tsp almond extract, 1 cup chocolate covered almonds
- Line your baking tray with parchment paper. Separate your dough into two and make two logs which are approximately 1 inch think and 4 inches wide (see photos for reference). Optional: If you wish to decorate the top of your biscotti with slivered almonds, brush the top of the dough with a thin layer of egg white and then sprinkle the slivered almonds on top. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 325 °F
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and then bake in the middle rack of your oven for 30 minutes. Remove, and allow to cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to carefully cut the logs into biscotti (keep them on the baking tray). We like to cut on the diagonal and have each biscotti about 1 inch wide. Arrange biscotti so that a cut side is up and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, turning over half way through.
- Allow to cool on baking tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Biscotti should be crisp and dry, but not too hard. Store in a well sealed container at room temperature for several weeks. Baked biscotti can also be stored in the refrigerator, or frozen. Enjoy!