Play Me a Recipe

Almond Biscotti

November 27, 2019
8 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
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

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Makes 30 to 35 cookies
Ingredients
  • 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)
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

  • chefrockyrd
    chefrockyrd
  • Megan Hornbeak
    Megan Hornbeak
  • Rhonda35
    Rhonda35
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
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.

13 Reviews

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!
 
Author Comment
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.
 
Author Comment
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).
 
Author Comment
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
 
Author Comment
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!