Just like most things, Biscotti is one of those desserts not often thought of but, when homemade, are a vast improvement over what can be purchased and consumed at your local coffee shop. Traditional Biscotti has no dairy and as a result, a long shelf life. It is still considered edible even after a month. Tell me… how appetizing does a 25 day-old cookie sound to you?
I first made a version of these during my annual Christmas Cookie Bakeathon and was instantly intrigued by the transformation the dough goes through. I was then completely sold after my first taste and decided from here on out it was to become a christmas cookie staple.
I decided to make another version of biscotti this past weekend, when I partook in a ‘Greek night’ with a good friend. Having both been to Greece in the past two years and fallen in love with the cuisine we thought it would be a blast to drink ouzo, eat feta and smash plates. Doing some research into greek desserts led me to paximathakia aka Greek biscotti – just please don’t ask me to pronounce it. I am always fascinated how different cultures eat and as I was not yet ready to tackle Baklava (hello, intimidating) I thought these were a great place to start.
The word biscotti derives from the latin ‘biscoctus’, which means as you might have guessed, twice baked. They’re light, crunchy, full of flavor and definitely worth the extra effort. I decided to try one with toasted sesame on top and one without as I was unsure about the flavor combination with sliced almonds. I’m happy to report either works, it just depends on your preference. I think next time I’ll leave them off completely, and maybe add in a few chocolate chunks. Nothing cannot be improved by chocolate.
adapted from food.com
2 tablespoons sesame seed, toasted
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil*
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon peel, grated
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups flour
To toast sesame seeds, place in a single layer on a non-stick cookie sheet or baking pan and roast for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F
Then, preheat oven to 390 degrees F
In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of the flour with the sugar and baking powder
Add the dry mixture to the liquid slowly, using dough hooks or a wooden spoon. When dough forms into a ball, add in silvered almonds and, with hands, mix to combine.
Knead with hands in the bowl until the dough holds together then turn out on a floured surface. Knead well for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and soft
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts to make 2 or 3 small loaves (depends on how long and big you like your biscotti, as you can see I prefer them larger)
Knead the dough until dense (holding together tightly), forming it into a loaf shape
Place the loaves on a lightly oiled (or non-stick) cookie sheet or baking pan and bake for 15 minutes at 390 degrees F, 3 – 4 inches above the bottom of the oven
When ready the bottom should be golden and the top should be just starting to brown
Remove the loaves from the oven. Allow to cool completely
When thoroughly cooled, place all the slices on their side in a very lightly oiled or non-stick baking sheet or roasting pan and bake at 200-210 degrees F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until dry, rotating sides every 30 minutes
*as a side note, I really recommend using good olive oil as it greatly effects the taste. I only use cold-press olive oil in all my baking/cooking as it retains all of its flavor, aroma, and most importantly nutritional value