Recently, I've been poring over cookbooks like it's my job. (Sadly, this is far from what my job actually entails.) However, as much as I'd like to purchase every relevant cookbook out there, I have neither the space nor the pocket money to give that dream a go. Instead, I rely heavily on my local library, and as it turns out, library book sales, to supplement my small personal collection of cookbooks.
My parents are active in their local library's Friends group, and as such, help to coordinate annual book sales, with proceeds going back to fund library programs. Inevitably, my parents pick up a few books to send our way -- this year's haul included a number of different cookbooks.
Over the weekend, I picked up one such cookbook, American Brasserie, written by Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand, who are Chicago restauranteurs. The book promises "180 simple, robust recipes inspired by the rustic foods of France, Italy, and America." As I paged through the book, my eye was immediately drawn to a photo of chocolate-almond biscotti -- and thus, that is the first recipe I chose to make from this book.
Having never made biscotti before, I was interested to learn that "biscotti" means "twice-cooked." To make biscotti, you first bake logs of dough, then cut the logs into slices, and then bake the slices just a bit longer. The resulting biscotti have a bit of crunch -- but not too much to break your teeth, as is nearly the case with some biscotti that I've tried. The toasted almonds complement the rich chocolate flavor provided by the cocoa powder -- I'd recommend using the best cocoa powder that you can get your hands on (I used Cacao Di Pernigotti unsweetened cocoa powder, which I picked up at Di Bruno Bros. in Philly).
Chocolate-Almond Biscotti (adapted from a recipe in American Brasserie)
makes about 24 biscotti
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. Spread the sliced almonds onto the prepped baking sheet. Toast the almonds for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Shake the pan a couple times while toasting. Remove the toasted almonds from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla extract.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix using the paddle attachment until the dough just begins to come together.
6. Add in the toasted sliced almonds and semisweet chocolate chips and mix to combine.
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough if necessary to combine the ingredients. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 2"-wide log.
8. Place the logs onto a silpat- (or parchment-) covered baking sheet. Brush each log with the beaten egg.
9. Bake until firm, about 30-35 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes, do not allow the logs to completely cool.
11. Place the logs on a flat work surface and use a serrated knife to cut the logs at an angle into 1/2"-thick slices.
12. Place the slices onto the baking sheet and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store the biscotti in an airtight container.