Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What I crave on a cold winter afternoon

A warm scone from the oven.
A huge mug of coffee.

And some almond biscottis.

I love biscottis, not only because they are generally low in fat, but they also have pretty long shelf life. Unlike other cookies that are best devoured over the next few days after they are baked, biscottis can be kept in a container for more than a week. Well, theoritically, if they can be kept that long before the glutton/s gobble them down.

This recipe that I adapted from Fine Cooking is a good change from my usual Chocolate Hazelnut Biscottis. The citrus zests and fennel seeds added to the dough impart an exotic flavour to the otherwise dull almond biscottis. I added some 72% chocolate, because I like everything with chocolate! On hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have added the chocolate. The biscottis would have looked neater without the awkward dark spots. If I were to make this biscottis again, I would also reduce the amount of sugar. I think it is a bit too sweet to eat on its own. But it's great if you were to eat it with a cup of strong coffee. The sweetness of the biscotti balances the bitterness of coffee.

I never learn to appreciate a good cup of black coffee. But I never make my coffee too sweet either. A few years ago when one of my superiors saw me making coffee, she commented that I should add more sugar to my coffee. "There is enough bitterness in this life, why not make your coffee sweeter?" She said. She was an outstanding sales manager, but there was many unhappiness going on in her personal life at that time. So she was naturally bitter, towards most of us.

I remember I told her that I left my coffee slightly bitter, so that I will be reminded of the sweet things in my life. It's all relatively speaking, isn't it? Whether something is sweet or bitter. It depends on what you compare them with. Not long after that, she was headhunted by a competitor company for an important role. I heard that she has done very well there, but I hope she is a happier person now.

Almond Biscotti
adapted from Fine Cooking
7 oz (1 1/3 cups) whole almonds, skin on
11 oz (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp aniseed
grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange
3 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
(I added 3.5 oz of 72% chocolate)
Heat the oven to 375F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the oven until they emit a nutty aroma but haven't turned dark brown inside, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, aniseed, and grated zests on medium low speed.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract with a whisk. With the mixer running on medium low, pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. When the egg mixture is almost completely incorporated, reduce the speed to low, add the almond and mix until the dough come together. Do not overmix. The dough will be stiff and sticky.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in by hand any remaining dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl. Divided the dough into three equal parts. With floured hands, roll each part into a log about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Place the logs 4 inches apart on greased or parchment lined baking sheets.
Baking the logs at 350F until they are light brown but still soft, about 45 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300F. Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes. Cut the logs on a slight diagonal into 3/4 inch thick biscotti. Place the biscotti flat on the baking sheet and dry them in the oven until they offer resistance when pressed, but the cut side hasn't begun to darken, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Yield about 3 dozens biscottis.

1 comment:

  1. The more I read your blog, the more I realize we have the same craving tooth. I love biscotti too!