I love having some cookies in the house to have with my afternoon tea; a little bit of sweet energizes me for the rest of the day and evening. This recipe, from Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food, is my favorite for this purpose: the cookies have some sweetness to them, but it's not overpowering, they are not too rich, and the texture is nicely crisp but not hard. The term biscotti means "twice baked". The Wikipedia entry says biscotti originated in the city of Prato and traditionally they also have almonds, just as mandelbrot, "almond bread", does; I don't know how the two are related. The Jewish version has more oil than biscotti, so is a little more cakey and less dense. The recipe is pretty simple and makes 3 or 4 dozen cookies. They keep very well in a tight container, but I freeze most of them and just take out several at a time. It's also nice to have a little treat in the house if a friend happens to stop by.
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
grated zest of one lemon
grated zest of one orange
a few drops of vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 Tbs baking powder
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 to 1 cup blanched almonds (I use 1 cup)
1 egg yolk to glaze.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar to a pale, thick cream. Add the oil, lemon and orange zest, vanilla, salt, baking powder and beat to a light emulsion.
- Blend in the flour, then work in the blanched almonds.
- Oiling your hands so they don't stick, form the dough into two long logs, about 3 inches wide, leaving space between them. I use parchment paper rather than oiling the pan. It is clean and convenient.
- Brush with egg yolk (I didn't do that for this batch....lazy me).
- Bake in preheated 350º oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Let the logs cool, then cut into diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick.
- Arrange on baking sheets, cut side down, and bake in preheated 400º oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- I turn the cookies over to brown the other side, for an additional 5 or 10 minutes.