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Almond Orange Biscotti

February 12, 2010

I am sitting on the patio at my hotel in Monrovia, watching the palm trees sway in the breeze and I can hear the ocean waves crashing up on the shore.  And yet I’m also sitting here thinking about how nice it will be to get back to DC and to finally be able to cook again.  I have eaten dinner at a restaurant nearly every night for the past 3 weeks.  On the nights when I wasn’t in a restaurant I was sitting in my hotel room eating restaurant left-overs.  I haven’t come near a stove, oven or even a microwave in over 3 weeks.  And man do these biscotti look good.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Why on earth is she blogging when she’s in this beautiful place with so many other better things to do?”  Well, my friends, let me tell you.  The “other things” I have to do are all work-related and I’m blogging in order to avoid doing them, just as I do in the States.  Some things really do never change.

Before I made these biscotti, I’d never made biscotti before.  And I really don’t know why.  Biscotti are so easy to make, and they turn my morning coffee into something way more exciting than usual.  I took these biscotti to work on a Monday morning (yes, almost a month ago now) and it’s amazing how a little homemade cookie can really make everyone’s Monday morning just a little bit better.

Almond Orange Biscotti

(From Cook’s Illustrated)

I found the dough to be too wet to actually pick up, so I pretty much just smeared the dough on the cookie sheet in two long, evenly shaped rectangles.  This method worked out just fine.  Also, I wasn’t sure how long to back the biscotti after I’d sliced them up.  Was it 15 minutes total, or 15 minutes per side?  For the first time ever, Cook’s Illustrated has provided non-specific instructions!  That said, I baked them until they were no longer soft and they were browned a little on each side.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup whole almonds with skins; toasted, cooled, and chopped coarse
1 large orange zested and minced to yield 2 tablespoons zest

Sift first three ingredients together in a small bowl.

Beat butter and sugar together in bowl of electric mixer until light and smooth; add eggs one at a time, then extracts. Stir in almonds and zest. Sift dry ingredients over egg mixture, then fold in until dough is just combined.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Halve dough and turn each portion onto an oiled cookie sheet covered with parchment. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of dough into a rough 13-by-2-inch log, placing them about 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Pat each dough shape to smooth it. Bake, turning pan once, until loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes.

Cool the loaves for 10 minutes; lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2-inch apart on the cookie sheet, cut side up, and return them to the oven. Bake, turning over each cookie halfway through baking, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer biscotti to wire rack and cool completely.

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