My sister Jenny has been making these for years and they are one of the non-chocolate cookies that I cannot resist! Seriously, if there's a tin of them in the house, I will be somehow magnetically drawn to them time and again and again and again! There's just something so addictive about the almond crunchiness of the cookie, the tart chewiness of the dried cherries all enhanced by a subtle lemon flavor. They're absolutely one of my favorites and once you try them you will fall in love too!
Jenny is a true cookie lover and will travel great distances to get a certain special treat that she's tasted or heard about. So when she says something is special and worth the calories, she's generally right. She's also a great baker and cook and these are one of her most requested recipes! And if you're intimidated by the thought of making biscotti, these are the ones to try, for while they're a bit time consuming to make because they get two bakings, they're not difficult and you're rewarded with a large yield and a cookie that will last for about a month if stored properly (or if I"m not around!). And they're pretty fabulous dunked into a hot cup of tea or coffee too!
You start these by toasting some almonds to really bring out their flavor. Next, you pulverize some of those almonds with some of the dry ingredients to form an easy-to-work-with dough that you roll into little logs and bake.
Once baked, you carefully cut the loaves into thin slices.
Then you place them back into a very low oven to fully dry out.
And that's it! You're left with a wonderfully flavorful crunchy irresistible cookie! Thanks Jenny! I will definitely have to put in some extra time on the treadmill this week! I told you, I'm helpless against these little guys!!
Jenny's Lemon Cherry Biscotti
Makes about 50 biscotti
Prep Time: 25 minutes; Bake Time: 20 minutes, plus another 35-40 minutes to allow cookies to dry out
- 2 cups (9 oz. ) whole blanched (skinned) almonds (if you can't find these, you can use blanched slivered almonds instead)
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried cherries (you can add a bit more if you like)
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 12-15 minutes until the almonds are lightly colored and smell strongly of toasted almonds. Give the pan a shake a few times during the baking process. Set aside to cool.
2. Turn the oven up to 375ºF and make sure oven racks are positioned into thirds. Turn a rimmed cookie sheet upside down and line with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Set aside.
3. Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the sugar. Take about 1/2 cup of this mixture and process it together with 1/2 cup of the cooled toasted almonds in a food processor until the nuts are fine and powdery, about 30 seconds.
4. Add the nut mixture to the flour mixture and mix together.
5. In a small bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs with the zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract just to mix. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir together with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are fully moistened. This will take a few minutes and seem like it will never happen, but just keep stirring and it will eventually all be incorporated. Stir in the dried cherries.
6. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and sprinkle a bit of flour onto the top of the dough. Form it into a mound and using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Four your hands and the board more if dough is sticking and roll each piece of dough into a long narrow sausage shape, about 10 inches wide and 1 inch long. Don't flatten the tops--you want a log. Use a pastry brush to brush away any excess flour and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, placing the 4 rolled loaves onto the sheet on the diagonal (These don't spread too much when baking but do need to be about 2 inches apart or so).
7. Bake the loaves for about 20 minutes on the upper rack, turning the sheet around halfway through the baking process. They should be lightly colored and feel sort of firm. Remove from the oven and using a spatula, transfer the loaves to a cutting board.
8. Reduce the heat to 275ºF. Using a serrated bread knife and a sawing motion, cut the loaves on the diagonal into 1/2-3/4 inch wide slices. Place the slices, cut side down onto 2 unlined rimmed baking sheets. Bake the sheets for about 35-40 minutes, turning the slices upside down and reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back, once during the baking process. Cookies are done when they appear golden on both sides and are crisp. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks.
9. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, I'm told these biscotti will last a month, but that's only a rumor--it's never actually been achieved in my house!
Note: Recipe adapted from my sister Jenny who adapted it from the Lake Como Biscotti from Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies. Jenny omitted the almond extract, subbed in the vanilla and added the dried cherries.