The Impossibly Crunchy Biscotti I Can't Stop Eating

January 14, 2017

Biscotti is a serious subject for me. I've long scoffed at the sort of biscotti sold in grocery stores and coffee shops: Laden with butter, they're basically just oversized cookies. The word biscotti is derived from a Latin word meaning twice-cooked; traditionally, these cookies are hard and dry, allowing them to last for weeks.

I grew up on my mother's biscotti, which have no butter or oil. They're impossibly crisp, crunchy, and delicate. To get the lofty texture, she beats eggs with sugar for 10 minutes, then very gently folds in the dry ingredients to keep all that air in the batter.

I love her biscotti, and am constantly disappointed when I try other kinds that taste just like cookies flavored with anise or almonds or pine nuts. Thus, I didn't expect to be wowed by today's recipe, which I uncovered in the Odense Almond Paste archives. But these biscotti are exceptional, truly. Our household ate through two batches in a week, and I'm ready to make more.

Can you spot the crystallized ginger? Photo by Posie Harwood

The biscotti have everything going for them: crunchy, buttery, spicy, and sweet. The exterior is dry and crisp, but the interior has a slight chew and bend, thanks to the addition of butter and almond paste to the dough. I love the kick that crystallized ginger gives the cookies; a touch of lemon zest and a handful of sliced almonds add even more flavor.

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You could easily swap in a different citrus (grapefruit or lime), or leave it out altogether. You could replace the ginger with dried fruit, or chocolate chips, or cacao nibs. The base recipe is wonderfully adaptable to any flavor combination you like. Just be sure to leave in the almond paste and use roughly the same quantity of add-ins (I use a cup of chopped crystallized ginger and a cup of sliced almonds, so you'll need no more than 2 cups of add-ins).

Photo by Posie Harwood

Make a batch, curl up on your couch by a window in a patch of winter sun, and dunk one of these in a cup of tea or a glass of milk. There's little than can rival that in the way of simple pleasures.

Do you have a favorite biscotti recipe? Tell us about it in the comments.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

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I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Kaitlin B. January 20, 2017
I made these last night! Super good. I may have over-mixed the dough because it was very sticky when i was shaping it into logs, but they baked up just right. Also, I grated the almond paste on a box grater, but next time i might leave it a little chunkier to try and get more solid bites of it in the cookies. Thanks, Posie!
Author Comment
Posie (. January 20, 2017
Yes it's a RATHER sticky dough -- it really helps to use wet hands to pat it into shape!
Suzannah K. January 16, 2017
My favorite recipe for biscotti is easy, quick, and infinitely adaptable, plus gluten-free:
Anne M. January 14, 2017
Made these this afternoon because it was a gloomy day, because of my baking withdrawal symptoms (a whole eight days since la galette des Rois), just because. Had to come back couple of times because of omissions in original recipe. Thanks for fixing. They are delicious.
[email protected] January 14, 2017
These sound wonderful! I have a recipe I like with pistachios and craisins, but they always crumble when I cut them after the first bake and never get properly, really, crisp. What's that secret?
Author Comment
Posie (. January 14, 2017
Hm! First off, make sure you really let them cool for at least 10 minutes after the first bake. I wonder if perhaps your recipe doesn't yield as sturdy of a dough. My mom's recipe, which has no butter, is definitely more crumbly so I use a very sharp serrated knife, so you can try that. But I'd give this almond ginger recipe a shot! I've had no issues with it crumbling, and as long as you let the cookies do the full second bake, they get very crisp once they cool. Another trick my mom uses is to do the first bake, slice the cookies, then put them back in the oven and turn the oven off. She lets them stay in there until the oven and the biscotti both fully cool.
[email protected] January 14, 2017
Thanks so much for these ideas! I will try them. My recipe does have butter and asks for it to be softened, so that could have some part of the effect. I have used a serrated knife for cutting, let them cool longer than the recipe specifies, etc., etc. I'm going to try the resting in the oven till cool as well. Thanks again!