I've been making these at Christmas for so long, I can't even remember when the tradition started. I do know I found a recipe in Biscotti that everyone loved, and it happened to be at Christmas, so I naturally kept thinking of them around December 15th. Since we had an ice storm, and I had no power, the making of the Christmas Biscotti ( cioccolato paradiso in the book) was delayed. But today it was snowing hard, so it turned out to be the perfect day for baking - especially since these take two hours to make and bake.
They are heavenly - crunchy with toasted almonds, diced orange peel, and milk chocolate - festive, dunkable, and wonderful to pack in pretty bags and attached to presents. Heaped on a plate or in a glass bowl works well, too.
To make about 3 dozen:
1 cup toasted whole almonds, then sliced into thirds
(it doesn't taste as good using slivered or flaked almonds)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 T. sugar, used in two parts in the recipe
3 eggs, extra large, separated
1 1/2 t. vanilla
zest of a large orange, finely diced ( take off as much white pith as possible)
3 cups King Arthur flour
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips or chunks
To toast the nuts, place in toaster oven until they start to smell deliciously toasty, remove to a cool plate immediately so they stop cooking.
In mixer bowl, place egg whites and beat until soft peaks form, then slowly add 1/2 cup sugar to the meringue. Beat until stiff, then scrape into a bowl. (don't forget to add it later!)
Using the same mixer bowl, add the butter and 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 T. and beat til fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest.
Add and mix the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
The mixture will be crumbly.
Fold in the meringue very, very well, then add the almonds and chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Fit a baking pan with foil - you'll be cutting it in two later, so using foil or parchment is important.
Scoop the stiff batter into two lines about 3 inches apart diagonally. My batter logs measure about 12 inches by about 4-5 inches.
With wet hands, smooth the logs out and square the ends.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until tops of logs are golden and quite firm to the touch.
Remove baking pan to a cooling rack for ten minutes.
Cut the foil down the middle, so each log is separate.
Very, very carefully, firmly hold each end of foil and gently move log to a wooden cutting board. Roll gently over and remove foil.
Do the same with the other log.
Take a very good bread knife or serrated knife and saw the slices of biscotti into one inch pieces. Place the biscotti upright on the baking pan. Set oven to 300F.
Cut all the biscotti, filling the baking pan.
Bake biscotti a second time, at 300F for ten minutes. Turn off oven and remove biscotti.
Let cool completely, then package in bags or tins. Of course, after all that work, set aside some fresh biscotti , brew up some strong coffee or espresso, and dig in .
Having a party? These are lovely heaped on a big platter or in a glass bowl.
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