Lemon Almond Biscotti

Lemon and almond make a great pair, not unlike my California-based best friend Amanda and me. Yes, I also have a Pittsburgh-based best friend, Kate; and yes, I get that you’re not supposed to have more than one best friend because best is a superlative but I’ve always marched to my own drummer so there you have it. Anyway…Amanda and I have known each other since we were 14 and despite a distance of about three thousand miles, still text each other nearly every day.

Amanda is  big fan of lemon, and I baked this biscotti for her. Biscotti travels very well, so it’s suitable for a trip across the country. It’s packaged up with the Halloween M&M cookies I made for her kids, tucked into a recycled box from my latest Amazon delivery because I know she won’t judge me for using a recycled box, and will instead applaud my attempt to save the planet one recycled box at a time. Enjoy, my dear friend!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, almond extract, and lemon extract and beat on medium speed until combined.

Add flour all at once; beat until combined. Dough will be very thick and somewhat sticky.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for just a moment to bring the dough together; divide the dough in half and roll into logs about 14 inches long; place on your baking sheet and press dough down to about 1-inch thickness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Slice each log into 1 1/2-inch slices, then place slices on baking sheets and return to the oven and bake for another 6 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature; makes about 20 slices.

Butter Pecan Biscotti

I seem to be into adapting recipes this week, which is one of the many joys of baking. Once you have a good base, you can tweak the flavors to come up with a range of tasty options. Swap out spices or extracts, toss in some toasted pecans, almonds, or flavored chips, and you’ll have a totally new treat to share.

This butter pecan biscotti uses the base from my fall spice biscotti, omitting the spice and adding toasted chopped pecans and butterscotch chips instead. It’s a wonderful recipe, yielding a crunchy-yet-soft-inside treat, which is just how I like my biscotti. This was a big hit in Mike’s office, where his coworkers proclaimed it delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon butterscotch extract*
  • 2/3 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup butterscotch chips

*If you don’t have butterscotch extract, don’t worry. You can omit it, or swap it for vanilla extract. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl between each. Add butterscotch extract and beat to combine. Add flour in two batches and mix to completely combine, then stir in pecans and butterscotch chips.

Dust your counter top with flour and turn dough out; it will be very sticky. Sprinkle with flour and knead gently to bring dough together; you can add a few more tablespoons of flour without having to worry that your dough will be too tough. Roll into a log about 16 inches long, then divide the log in half. Carefully place each log on your baking sheets (I use my bench knife to help with this); flatten to about 1 inch thickness. Note: the logs will spread a good deal when you bake them, so make sure you place them in the middle of your baking sheets.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are completely set and the middles are firm; I baked mine on two different racks in the oven, which I don’t necessarily recommend but did this time in order to save some time. If you do this, you’ll want to swap your baking sheets about halfway through baking to prevent the bottom of the bottom-baking log from burning.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully move the logs to a cutting board and slice them into 1-inch slices. Carefully place slices back on the parchment-lined baking sheets (they will be almost cake-like at this point, so handle them gently). Bake on one side for an additional 7-9 minutes, then flip and bake on the other side for 7-9 minutes. Again, if you’re baking both sheets at once like I did, you’ll want to swap the top and bottom sheets to prevent the bottom-baking ones from over-browning.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet(s) for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container; makes 16 slices.

Fall Spice Biscotti

If you’re the type of baker who doesn’t stock apple pie spice, pumpkin spice, or other seasonal spice blends, don’t sweat it. You can easily make your own blends with common ingredients you’re likely to have.

This fall spice biscotti uses apple pie spice, a mixture of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. I recently bought a few small jars at the Container Store that I’ve filled with both homemade apple pie spice and pumpkin spice, so I can easily use either one in a recipe. Spice mixing is a bit of an art; you can stick with standard measurements, or explore a bit with your own ratios. I’m a big fan of cloves, so my apple pie spice is a bit heavier on cloves than the store-bought kind might be. The next time I make this recipe, I’ll likely divide my dough in half and bake it in two logs; it spreads a great deal when baking, which I wasn’t quite expecting. I may also add a bit more flour to the dough to stabilize it. Stay tuned!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple pie spice*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips

*You can make your own by blending 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and a dash of cloves. You’ll need to increase these measurements to get enough for 1 1/2 tablespoons, but it’s important to have the right ratio. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, apple pie spice, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl between each. Add flour in two batches and mix to completely combine; stir in cinnamon chips.

Dust your counter top with flour and turn dough out; it will be sticky. Sprinkle with flour and knead gently to bring dough together; you can add a few more tablespoons of flour without having to worry that your dough will be too tough. Roll into a log about 16 inches long (or divide in two – this is what I’ll do next time) and carefully place the log on your baking sheet; flatten to about 1 inch thickness. Note: the log will spread a good deal when you bake it, so you’ll want to place the log diagonally on your baking sheet to avoid it spilling over the edges.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are completely set and the middle is firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully move the log to a cutting board and slice it into 1-inch slices. Carefully place slices back on the parchment-lined baking sheet (they will be almost cake-like at this point, so handle them gently); you may need another sheet to fit all of the slices. Bake on one side for an additional 6-7 minutes, then flip and bake on the other side for 6-7 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet(s) for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container; makes 16 slices.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread-themed baking continues with this gingerbread biscotti, which is adapted from Good Housekeeping’s basic ginger biscotti recipe. Although I think it still needs a bit more cloves, or perhaps nutmeg, this biscotti is easy to make and very tasty.

While biscotti can look fancy and might sound complicated to make, what with the baking, cooling, slicing, and re-baking, it’s actually quite easy. Biscotti also travels well, so it’s a nice idea for holiday gifts, or to send to faraway family and friends.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, ginger, allspice, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping your bowl between each. Add flour mixture in two batches, beating on low to combine and scraping your bowl well.

Sprinkle your counter top very lightly with flour and turn dough out, then knead one or two times to bring the dough together (it will be sturdy and easy to handle). Shape into a log, then transfer to your baking sheet and press it down evenly so your log becomes about 16 inches long.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean from the center; remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer the log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut log into 1-inch slices (you could make thinner slices, but I wanted nice, thick pieces). Return to the baking sheet, placing them upright on their bottoms, and bake for another 10 minutes; lay all of the pieces on their sides and bake 2 minutes more, then flip over and bake on the remaining side for another 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 16.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Biscotti can be simple or fancy, which is one thing that makes them such good treats. This recipe is adapted from a basic chocolate biscotti recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

Instead of adding chopped white and semisweet chocolate to the dough like the original recipe called for, I chose to go the chocolate almond route. I mixed in some almond extract along with the eggs, then once the biscotti baked and cooled, I dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled on some chopped toasted almonds. You could certainly leave them plain if you like, or mix the chopped almonds into the dough. Maybe I’ll do that next time.

Ingredients

  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • About 1/3 cup chopped toasted almonds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder, beating well to combine.

Scrape down the bowl and add eggs and almond extract, beating well to combine. Add flour and beat to combine; dough will be fairly thick and sticky.

Lightly dust your counter top with flour and turn dough out onto it; divide into two portions, and shape each portion into a 9-inch log. Transfer logs to the baking sheet and flatten each slightly.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Transfer logs to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch slices. Return slices to the baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes on one side, then flip and bake for another 8-9 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven and cool completely before dipping.

Once biscotti are cool, combine shortening and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth.

Line a cool baking sheet with waxed paper. Dip one end of each biscotti into the chocolate, then place on waxed paper. Top with chopped toasted almonds; allow chocolate to set before storing. Store in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper for up to 3 days.

Makes about 24

Pecan Mandelbrot

pecan-mandelbrotMandelbrot is similar to biscotti, a twice-baked creation that means “almond bread” in Yiddish. Technically speaking, this mandelbrot has no mandel, though I suspect that using almonds in this would also be delicious.

Mandelbrot is slightly softer than biscotti due to its higher vegetable oil content, but the premise is the same – bake the logs, let the logs cool for a few minutes, then quickly slice the logs and bake the slices a second time. While this might sound like a lot of work, it’s actually very easy to do, and it yields a large quantity – about 3 1/2 dozen – so it’s good for a crowd.

This recipe is adapted just slightly in preparation from Martha Stewart’s Cookies, a reliable source for excellent recipes. My kitchen smelled absolutely delicious when I made this on Labor Day, and the treats were a big hit in Mike’s office this week.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, 1 cup sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-low speed until combined.

Scrape your bowl well and with the mixer running on low, slowly add the flour mixture, beating until combined. Stir in pecans.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured counter top. With floured hands, divide dough into three portions and shape each into a log about 3 inches wide and 1 inch high.

Place on baking sheets, leaving room between each log; they will spread during baking.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and puffed, but firm to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes. In the meantime, line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place each log on a cutting board and, working quickly to prevent the logs from cracking too much, slice into 1/2 inch slices. Return slices to baking sheets and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar; bake for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven, then flip slices over and sprinkle the other side with cinnamon sugar; bake for 7 minutes more.

Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Anise Biscotti

anise biscottiAnise is used in cooking, baking, and if you can believe it, medicine throughout the world. It can be found in everything from cookies to tea, and it’s one of my favorite flavors, particularly for biscotti.

My grandma Zella, despite being Hungarian and not at all Italian, used anise for pizzelles. Because of this, I always think of anise as an Italian flavor, and I make sure I get a few plain anise and anise almond biscotti when I visit Enrico Biscotti in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Almonds would be a great addition to this recipe, but it is delicious plain as well. As far as biscotti recipes go, I’d say this was among the easiest and most successful I’ve ever tried.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon anise extract
  • 3 eggs

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, sugar, anise extract, and eggs and beat on medium speed until combined.

Add flour all at once; beat until combined. Dough will be very thick.

Divide dough in half and roll into logs as long as your baking sheet. Press dough down to about 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Line a second baking sheet with parchment.

Slice each log into 1-inch slices, then place slices on baking sheets and return to the oven and bake for another 6 minutes on each side.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.