Biscotti is one of those cookies that can be hit or miss. I have nearly broken a tooth on dry, flavorless store-bought biscotti. I know you’re supposed to dunk them in coffee, but I believe a good biscotti should taste delightful even by itself. I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for years, starting with the original version for Chocolate-Dipped Cherry-Hazelnut Biscotti. The first time I made it, I thought the orange zest was overpowering, and dipping the biscotti in chocolate was messy and time consuming. However, I kept the recipe because I always ship some cookies at Christmas, and biscotti are very sturdy and keep for several weeks. Instead, I started tweaking the recipe a little bit each year. I dropped the orange zest and swapped out hazelnuts for almonds. I tried mixing in chocolate chips, which tasted good if inauthentic. This year I decided to simplify by ditching the chocolate altogether and enhancing the nuts with Amaretto. The resulting cookie has the rich almond flavor and crunchy (but not rock hard) texture that I’ve been looking for all this time.
Dried Cherry and Almond Biscotti
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Amaretto liqueur
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups blanched, slivered almonds
- 1 3/4 cups dried tart cherries (about 8 1/2 ounces)
1. Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 325°F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In small bowl, toss dried cherries with a spoonful of extra flour until they are lightly coated. This is to prevent the cherries from sticking to each other.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter in very large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time just until blended. Beat in extracts and Amaretto. Turn mixer on low and gradually add flour one cup at a time until fully incorporated. Add the dried cherries and almond slivers. The dough will be quite stiff at this point. Depending on your mixer, it may be easier to stir the cherries and almonds in by hand.
4. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a floured work surface, shape each piece into a 9-inch-long by 3-inch-wide log. Place 2 logs on each on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs are golden and feel firm when tops are gently pressed, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking, about 45-50 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheets for 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
5. Carefully slide the logs onto a large cutting board. (Logs will be softest in the middle, so take care that they do not break apart.) Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cutting with a gentle sawing motion will help keep the slices from crumbling. If your knife is too dull, the log will crumble and the cherries may stick to the blade.
6. Arrange slices cut side down on the baking sheets. Bake biscotti 10 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until light golden, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to racks and cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies. Biscotti keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.