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Almond biscotti is a delicious cookie that originates from Italy, and is now popular in many countries, especially for dunking into tea, milk, coffee or even wine. American palates unused to biscotti may be a little surprised by the fact that the cookie is not typically very sweet. It does contain some sugar, but usually doesn’t have anywhere near as much as cookies made in the US. Once used to the taste, clearly Americans love these cookies too. Of course, some companies have corrupted original recipes by creating almond biscotti that is much sweeter than Italian recipes.
Authentic recipes for almond biscotti tend to rely on very few ingredients. Typically these are flour, eggs, sugar, leavening, and flavorings like vanilla and almond extract. Toasted almonds are naturally essential for almond biscotti, though people can certainly substitute other nuts, raisins, or pieces of citron if they prefer, or use anise flavoring. One pleasant thing about these cookies is that they are usually low fat because they have no shortening. However some recipes do call for shortening, and can be considered less traditional.
Almond biscotti get its crunchiness from two sources. First the nuts provide natural crunch and really do need to be toasted to be crunchiest. Thinly sliced almonds may be preferred over whole or half almonds. The second reason biscotti dips so well and provides such a satisfying crunch is because it has a double baking method.
When the dough is first made it is formed into half circle logs and bakes for close to an hour (recipes may call for different baking times). The hot log is removed from the oven and sliced. Each slice is then baked again for another 20 minutes or so, and the cookies are turned, enabling them to get evenly toasted on each side. Though this process is a little labor intensive, fans of almond biscotti say it is well worth it.
For extra fancy almond biscotti, cooled cookies can be dipped in chocolate. The traditional method for dipping is to dip the cookies on only one side, though others may prefer a cookie covered fully in chocolate. Biscotti can be made with lots of adaptations. In particular, types of nuts used can transform traditional almond biscotti into hazelnut, pine nut, or pistachio biscotti. Hazelnuts and pine nuts are particularly good substitutes and favored by many Italian bakers. Alternately, those who don’t care for nuts needn’t include them, and can instead make the biscotti almond-free.
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