Biscotto, in case you didn't know, is the singular of BISCOTTI, which comes from either the Latin word 'bis coctum' which means, 'twice baked', or the Italian bis (twice) and cotto (cooked). Or both. The story goes that the earliest biscotti were made in second century Rome. From The History of Cookies by Linda Stradley: "Back then, 'biscuits' were unleavened, hard, thin wafers, which had a low water content. As they contained very little moisture they were the ideal food to store, as they wouldn't become mouldy quickly."
I'm glad to report that my first attempt at biscotti wasn't a total train wreck. There were a few mishaps (burnt almonds, no cooling rack) but overall the cookies I produced were tasty and crunchy, although they were a bit thick. I started with the recipe here, and modified it to make the two chocolate variations below. The next time I try these, I'll use a little less flour, or maybe I'll just follow this recipe instead and see what the differences are.
These turned out well enough that I plan to serve them at our Mother's Day gathering, with some melted chocolate for dipping, which along with the fudge should throw everybody into choco-sugar-shock in short order, and I can rest easy knowing my job is done. Heh.
Chocolate Chunk Biscotti
4-6 ounces blanched almonds
2 1/2 cups flour
1-2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp amaretto creamer
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks chopped
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in oven until lightly golden. Let cool. Coarsely chop half the nuts.
Mix together sugar and eggs, beating well until the color of the mixture is light yellow and fluffy. Add vanilla, almond extract and creamer (use milk if you don't have the creamer). In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. Beat flour into egg mixture and then gently fold in the toasted almonds (hold out a few almonds for topping) and the chocolate chips.
The consistency should be doughy but it will still be a bit gooey. Remove to a floured surface and knead briefly, then divide 2-4 pieces. Roll each piece into a cylinder 10 inches long and about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Press down to flatten them into an oval shape about three inches across. Press slivered almonds into top, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Place the rolls on each baking sheet and bake 15 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, and then with a spatula, carefully transfer the rolls to a cutting board and slice each one diagonally into cookies about 1/2-inch thick. Return the slices to the oven, with one cut side facing up. Turn them over after about 10-15 minutes. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, or until very firm and crisp. Cool on wire rack.
Chocolate Cherry Biscotti
See above ingredients (minus the chocolate chips)
1/2 cup finely chopped, well-drained marascino cherries
2 tbsp unsweetened powdered cocoa
Follow the recipe as described above, right up through the addition of the almonds. Instead of chocolate chunks/chips, fold in cherries and cocoa.
Since I added the powdered cocoa at the end, it wasn't fully blended, and the result was a sort of marbled look which I liked. But if you want a darker, more even look, combine the cocoa with the sugar and eggs and beat together to get an even texture/color.