Play Me a Recipe

Almond Biscotti

November 27, 2019
15 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Makes 30 to 35 cookies
Author Notes

There was a period in the 1990s when, if you went to my mom’s, grandmother’s, or sister’s house, you’d find the cookie jar filled with Corby Kummer’s biscotti. We made it so often that we considered starting a business around it. The recipe produces a sticky dough that challenges you to summon your fastest scraping and folding moves; our plan was to produce and shape the sticky mass and sell it frozen so that home bakers would have the satisfaction of twice-baking the biscotti without having to deal with the messy dough.

We never started the business but we continue to this day to make the biscotti, especially around the holidays.

Kummer, an editor at the Atlantic, developed the recipe in 1987, just as Americans began (briefly) treating biscotti as the Next Great Chocolate Chip Cookie. The recipe is written into 7 paragraphs of his story, so there is no ingredient list, no numbered steps. It’s a wonder anyone made it! Beyond its unconventional written form, the resulting biscotti also break ranks with the overwrought, chocolate-jammed, weakly-structured versions you find across America. Kummer’s thinner, sweet-salty version of the twice-baked cookie is modeled after biscotti di Prato, which are found in Tuscany.

This biscotti isn’t for the soft-and-chewy crowd. Think sweet rusk over indulgent cookie. My family eats them at breakfast. We dunk them in coffee post-lunch. We pair them with bourbon to finish a holiday dinner. We bake big batches and give them as gifts. We may occasionally hoard them for ourselves, too. (I’m looking at you, Mom!) And because they last forever, you can ship them without worry. (Not that I’m hoping you make these for your Holiday Swap package, but if you do, your swapee will be lucky.)

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Amanda toasts, whisks, and slices her way through this recipe, offering tips and backstory along the way.Amanda Hesser

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Food52's Holiday Cookie Chronicles —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup (140g) whole, unblanched almonds
  • Butter, for baking sheet
  • 2 cups (250g) unbleached all-purpose flour, more for baking sheet
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until they are toasted and beginning to release their oil. A good indication that they are done is when you can smell them. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. Lower your oven temperature to 300°F (150°C).
  3. Butter and flour a large baking sheet. Mix the 2 cups flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Scoop out 1/3 cup (43g) and set aside. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork and stir in the vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Gradually draw in the dry ingredients, mixing the dough until it begins to clump together in a shaggy mess. Do this as quickly and lightly as possible. You do *not* want to work the flour, you just want the dough to hold together. A pastry scraper helps to gather the unwieldy dough. Dust a work surface with the reserved dry ingredients. Turn out the dough onto the work surface. Gather it into a disk using the pastry scraper, and knead it lightly to help it cohere. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Pat out the dough into a rough 7 x 5-inch (17 x 13-cm) rectangle and press in the almonds. Adding the reserved flour mixture when needed, fold the dough like a business letter, and cut in half lengthwise with a pastry scraper. Flour your hands and gently roll each half into a long rope about 2 inches (5 cm) thick. Transfer one rope to the baking sheet and pat it lightly to flatten to 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) thick. Repeat with the other half, making sure that the halves are at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart on the baking sheet. (Otherwise they will grow together in the oven.) Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. It should feel almost bready when pressed with a finger.
  5. Immediately after removing from the oven, use a spatula to transfer each half to a cutting board. Using a large chef's knife and working in firm downward motions, cut each half diagonally into 1/2-inch (1.2-cm) slices. Lay the slices, cut-sides down, on the baking sheet and return to the oven to dry and toast, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking racks. These cookies improve with age, and if stored in a cookie jar or tin, they will keep for several weeks.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    Judith Olivas Challenger
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    Megan Hornbeak
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Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

21 Reviews

Kaede S. January 7, 2024
Thank you Amanda! I used this recipe with the video you shot with Grossy Pelosi and it worked perfectly. I avoided making biscotti for many years as I was intimidated by the two stage baking but you made it easy. To the reader who noted the “eggy” flavor: I noticed it when tasting right out of the oven. It disappeared within a day or so. The biscotti really did improve with age.
Amanda H. January 7, 2024
Happy to hear it worked well for you -- and thanks for the detail about the eggy flavor!
Judith O. August 1, 2023
After testing a ton of recipes trying to duplicate an Italian biscotti that I used to buy, this was it!. The texture and taste were what I was looking for. They're not cake or cookie like; they're different. I've been making them for many, many years now. with the addition of orange zest and tad less sugar.
Amanda H. August 3, 2023
So happy to hear you like this recipe!
Jane K. March 24, 2023
I’ve been making these for decades. Fam of all ages love them!
Colleen R. August 21, 2022
I used the parchment paper route which is definitely less messy. I was pleased with the look of them—since I could not fit all the almonds inside, I pressed the remaining ones on top—so the almonds are all through and on top as they are in the photo. My three stars is for two reasons—I agree with another review that they taste very eggy—but my biggest complaint is an overpowering taste of baking soda. That kind of spoils the whole thing. Next time I will try swapping powder for the soda. I used a fiori di sicilia flavouring which is lovely (a citrus vanilla blend).
susaneas December 18, 2021
these are amazing. I made a few changes, but kept to the spirit of Amanda's tried and true.... swapped raw (demerara) sugar for granulated which adds crunchy bits on the edges, and made a cinnamon/pecan version and a cardamom/walnut version -- think cinnamon buns and a Swedish-inspired complement to any cup of coffee. Yum.
I also just dumped the almost cohesive dough onto a board and used a bench scraper to gather/knead/pat it into an 8x10 rectangle, then cut that into 4 long strips to make shorter cookies. Perfect for holiday gifts!
Amanda H. December 18, 2021
So glad you like the recipe! It's a difficult one to get right the first time around, but sounds like yours worked out wonderfully!
chefrockyrd December 16, 2020
I have been baking professionally for many years and made a lot of biscotti. If I may give you a hint - after mixing the dough use an ice cream scoop to make a row of lined up balls on a piece of plastic wrap. Divide the dough between two sheets.
No need for more flour and mess. The dough is soft enough that you can use a spatula to shape it or use the plastic wrap to form it into a log, rolling it back and forth shaping it. Place it in the fridge or freezer until firm. Either bake them then or keep frozen for another day. I bake them from the frozen state. Give it a try!
Amanda H. December 20, 2020
Thank you for this tip -- and you've reminded me that my mother used to do this!
megumphrey October 8, 2020
I found the biscotti to taste eggy. The dough was also so sticky (as mentioned in the recipe header)! I had never made biscotti before, and I felt like I was doing everything wrong. Glad for an introduction to the genre but will try another recipe in the future.
girlgenius September 10, 2020
Amanda, I agree with Megan H. Please reply
bottomupfood May 6, 2020
I love Amanda Hesser but this is one of the weirder and less successful baking recipes I’ve ever made. I strongly suggest the anise biscotti recipe on Food52 instead.
Amanda H. May 6, 2020
So sorry to hear this -- can you let me know what went wrong? Would like to help problem solve! I've been making this recipe for 25+ years!
Annie C. December 22, 2019
I’ve made these three times this month. I’ve used turbinado sugar because I was out of granulated, and I like the caramel notes. Otherwise, no changes; I think they’re perfect.
Michele K. December 18, 2019
Oh My Lanta! Just use parchment paper and skip all the buttering and flouring. Too messy! But these sound great--will have to try them after the holidays (I normally make ATK biscotti which are also great).
Amanda H. December 18, 2019
Great point -- and yes, you can use parchment with no buttering and flouring!
Megan H. December 17, 2019
I'm confused by the adding of the almonds and then folding it like a letter. Seems that all the almonds would end up on the inside but in the picture above it shows them on the outside. Am I reading this wrong? Thanks
Amanda H. September 10, 2020
The recipe is written correctly — apologies for the confusing photo! Will ask our team to reshoot it.
Monique December 8, 2019
The recipe was simple to prepare and the dough was easy to handle and shape. The biscotti are delicious with a cup of Earl Grey tea or a good cup of coffee. I made them to give as holiday gifts to my childrens' teachers and they were very well received. I did not have room in the dough for the entire cup of roasted almonds, but the recipe was nonetheless delicious.
Rhonda35 December 3, 2019
I love this recipe!