Some of these are straight up from a magazine; others I have modified heavily over the years. Aside from links to the recipes, I have included comments and suggestions.
I modified this from the original recipe, for chocolate dipped Cherry Hazelnut biscotti. The first time I made these I found the cookie to be overpowered by the flavor of the orange zest. Instead I have replaced hazelnuts with almonds and used 2 teaspoons of almond extract for flavoring. Rather than dink around with dipping the biscotti, I stirred in a cup of chocolate chips.
This dough is a sticky mess when it comes to to shape the biscotti into logs! I’m still experimenting with ways to remedy this. So far, my suggestion is to add a 1/2 stick of butter (cream with the sugar), use 3 instead of 4 eggs, and increase the flour by 1 cup. This leaves you with a dough that is kneadable, but decrease the cooking time by about 10-12 minutes. I also double the crystalized ginger, add a teaspoon ground ginger and cut back on the chocolate chips for a stronger ginger flavor.
I pretty much follow this recipe to the letter except I like them just fine without the white chocolate.
Some Tips for Biscotti
Biscotti means “twice baked” in Italian (or so I’ve read) because you first bake a log of dough then slice it and bake the pieces again so they become crisp. I consider biscotti to be my signature holiday cookie–it’s the staple I make every year and the one I’ve had the most time to refine. They are great for the holidays because they are a) really hard to screw up, b) keep up to 2 weeks in tupperware, so you can make them ahead, c) sturdy enough to withstand shipping, and d) the flavor combinations are endless. I don’t make them in a particularly traditional manner, prefering instead to see what kind of fruit, nut, and chocolate combinations I can stuff into a little cookie.
While having all these flavors can lead to amazing taste senstations exploding in your mouth, it can make it very difficult to slice your log of hot cookie without a lot of broken cookies. Here are some suggestions for slicing:
- Do not overbake your biscotti log, or it will be like trying to saw through a real wood log.
- Use a very sharp knife. Different recipes produce different types of dough textures, so experiment with using both serrated and straight edge knives. Begin sawing carefully and once you have a good foothold, push straight down.
- Thinner is crispier, but slice too thin and your cookies will break apart. Try to slice as thin as you can without breaking.
- Broken cookies are often the result of your knife cutting through the dough, but not that piece of dried fruit, chocolate, or nut. Even if the recipe does not call for it, finely chop nuts and fruit. Even little dried cranberries can destroy a beautiful biscotti slice.
- In an airtight container, biscotti will keep 2 weeks, easily.
Following the advice of another reviewer, it works great to fill these coconut macaroons with a chocolate disk.
I have no idea how they get 48 cookies out of this recipe. I made “half” swirls and still got the same amount of cookies even though I was working with 4 logs of dough instead of 2.
I like to make tiny gingerbread men–reallly thin, crispy, and small enough to be bite-sized. For a snappier cookie, I doubled the spices and tripled the amount of ginger. For a dough that is a little stiffer and easier to roll out, add a quarter cup flour.
This recipe is from an old Martha Stewart magazine. I must have missed something because she says you can roll and cut these cookies out, but my dough was so crumbly it was all I could do to press it into the bottom of a pan. Still, the flavor turned out just fine.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
Combine all ingredients except apricots. Mix until just incorporated but not too creamy. Add apricots. Press dough into the bottom of a greased or parchment-lined 9×9 pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
I am in love with those Italian amaretti cookies that you get in that big red tin. I could eat a giant box in a single sitting, they are so delicious. I keep trying to recreate the crip texture and deep flavor in my own kitchen, but it is to little avail. These almond macaroons are good, if a bit time intensive. Next year, I will probably just satisfy my craving by purchasing one of those Lazaroni tins.
This recipe is from The Italian Baker by Carol Field. It is for Lombardy-style amaretti, meaning the crispy kind. They make soft amaretti in Pietmont; that recipe is also in this cookbook.
- 1 cup + 2 tbsps blanched almonds
- 2 1/2 tbsps bitter apricot kernels or 3/4 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup + 3 tbsps powdered sugar
- 1 tsp all purpose flour
- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Grind almonds and kernels to find powder in nut grinder or food processor. (If using food processor, process with 1/4 cup powdered sugar to avoid almonds from sticking.) Mix with flour and powdered sugar. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar until stiff and shiny. Fold in nuts and extract. Spoon into pastry bag and pipe 1.5″ mounds onto parchment-lined sheets, 1.5″ apart (they will spread and puff).
The original recipe says to bake for 40-45 minutes at 300 degrees, then turn off the heat and let the cookies dry for another 20-30 minutes in the oven. This turned out to be a bad idea–my cookies were burning after 30 minutes! Obviously cooking time varies, so watch your cookies carefully. I only baked them for 20-25 minutes and skipped the drying step for fear they would burn. Makes 30 cookies.