Story and food styling by Joy Howard, Photos by Dominic Perri
My 6-year-old daughter will dip anything into what she’s drinking. It’s like a compulsion. Whether it’s cookies in milk or baby carrots in juice, there seems to be something deeply satisfying to her about the act of plunging a morsel of food into her cup and gobbling it up. Searching for a treat that pairs well with her quirky habit recently led me to a new baking project: biscotti.
If you think of these crunchy, dunk-worthy cookies as a sweet reserved for grown-up coffee drinkers, you couldn’t be more wrong! In Italy, where the recipe originated, they’re traditionally served at the end of a meal with a dessert wine called vin santo. While it’s true that neither coffee nor wine is a kid-friendly accompaniment, you don’t need my daughter to tell you how delicious a homemade slice of biscotti can be any time of day with a glass of milk. (It also makes a wonderful ice cream topping if you crumble it.)
This version features toasted almonds and a hint of orange zest. The flavors are subtle and perfect for soaking up all sorts of drinks—both kid- and parent-approved. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the texture of the cookies, which are dry and crunchy but not dense and hard like the ones often found in pastry shops and cafés. Making the cookies is a two-step process. After the dough is baked and cooled slightly, it’s sliced and returned to the oven for several minutes more. This allows each cookie to develop its characteristic texture. During the first step, kids can mix, roll, and shape the dough; and in the second phase, they can take charge of arranging the cookies on the baking sheet before the second bake.
Easy Almond Biscotti
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons almond extract
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ cup lightly toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Heat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and set at medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and blend between each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and the orange zest and continue to blend until incorporated.
Reduce the mixer’s speed to medium-low. Slowly add the flour and blend well. Add the almonds and mix for just a few seconds to incorporate. With floured hands, scoop up the dough (it will be very sticky) and place it on a lightly floured surface.
Evenly halve the dough and roll each portion into a 1½- by 15-inch log. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange with a few inches between each log. Gently press the top of each to flatten it slightly.
Bake until golden and puffy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Reserve the baking sheet.
With a sharp knife, slice each log into ¾-inch cookies. Arrange on the baking sheet, standing upright, and return to the oven. Bake until lightly dried, deep golden, and crisp on the outside, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving.