Are you a fan of biscotti? To be honest, I’d never cared much for it. It always seemed so dry, hard and tasteless to me…kind of like thick burnt toast.
But I had never tried homemade biscotti.
More specifically, I had never tried homemade American-style biscotti inspired by King Arthur’s Baking Company (www.kingarthurbaking.com). Now I’m a complete convert — give me all the biscotti!
According to the King Arthur’s Baking Company website, as mentioned…American-style biscotti is still crunchy on the outside, but a bit softer and chewier on the inside than true Italian biscotti. My quick research says the softer American-style cookie has butter, which a classic biscotti doesn’t have.
A Brief History of Biscotti
If you’re not too familiar, biscotti is a twice-baked cookie that originated in Italy. It was first created as a provision that Roman soldiers could carry into battle since the extra baking (and hardness) meant that they kept well and weren’t subject to mold.
Legend has it that Christopher Columbus was well-stocked with biscotti on his voyages around the world. Through the centuries, each region of Italy developed its own unique biscotti, using whatever nuts and fruits were plentiful. Italians would traditionally dunk them into a sweet dessert wine called Vin Santo.
A Quick Primer on Making Biscotti
It’s not hard to make biscotti, it just takes a little extra chilling, cooling and baking time. Don’t be daunted by all the steps in the recipe!
Biscotti is made like a normal drop cookie dough. You’ll be adding dry ingredients to wet ingredients, then shaping the sticky dough into two logs on a baking sheet. Bake the logs and remove from the oven; let cool slightly, then slice the biscotti and return it to a lower-temperature oven for the second bake, which is what gives them a crunchy texture.
The biggest challenge is baking twice without overbaking. That — and deciding which type of nuts, fruits and flavorings to use!
What’s to Love About This Cranberry-Almond Biscotti?
These cookies are great for dunking into coffee, tea, latte or even wine — but because they’re softer, you don’t need to dunk them to enjoy them.
- There’s a lot of flexibility in the recipe. Follow the ratios for the basic ingredients (butter, flour, eggs and sugar) — but feel free to adjust the flavorings and add-ins. If you don’t care for almond extract…then use more vanilla. Want to add orange zest or white chocolate chips? Go for it! I’ve experimented with this recipe three different ways and you can’t go wrong with it.
- Biscotti keeps well at room temperature and in the freezer. This is perfect to make ahead for entertaining, office parties and family gatherings.
- Biscotti is easy to gift. Put some in a clear bag or cute container and add a festive bow. If you want to make a bigger gift, add in some of your favorite coffee or tea. Voila!
Tips for Success with American-Style Biscotti
- The biscotti dough will be sticky. To make it easier to shape into logs, put it in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes first. Then dust your hands with flour and shape the logs, using a wet spatula if needed to smooth and shape it.
[Update 2/17/22: I’ve made a lot of batches of biscotti by now and sometimes I chill the dough and sometimes I don’t, depending how much time I have. It’s definitely easier to work with when chilled, but this step is optional.]
- After the first bake, it’s best to let the biscotti cool at least 15 minutes before trying to slice them. The biscotti tends to crumble when cut if it’s too hot.
- Be sure to dampen the baked biscotti before attempting to slice it for the second bake. Softening the crust with water makes it easier to slice. [I used a basting brush for this; you can also use a spray bottle, if you have one.]
- Use a sharp serrated knife when slicing and be sure to cut straight up and down so that your slices are mostly even.
- My recipe uses a reduced baking time and oven temperature for the second bake, deviating from King Arthur’s Baking Company recommendations. This isn’t really a “pop it in the oven, set the timer and walk away” recipe. You’ll want to keep an eye on the biscotti as it bakes, since oven temperatures vary.
Looking for more cookie recipes?
Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Ricciarelli: Italian Almond Cookies
American-Style Cranberry-Almond BiscottiCourse: Dessert
NOTE: This recipe was updated on Feb. 17, 2022 with a shorter baking time on the second bake. If you can slice a loaf of bread, you can make biscotti. It just takes a little bit of patience since it’s baked twice, but the results are worth it.
6 TBSP. butter (salted or unsalted), softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract, optional
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sliced almonds, optional
1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extracts until creamy.
- Beat in the eggs. Using the low speed of your mixer, add in the flour mixture in small increments and mix until smooth.
- Mix almonds and cranberries into the dough. The dough will be sticky.
- To make the dough easier to work with, place it in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then lightly dust your hands with flour and shape the dough into two logs about 8-inches long x 2-inches wide and 3/4-inch thick. Smooth the top and sides of the logs. A wet spatula works well for this.
- Bake the logs for 25 to 30 minutes and remove from oven.
- Let the logs cool, about 15 minutes. Then spray or lightly brush them with water, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust with water makes it easier to slice. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the logs crosswise into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal for fewer, but longer biscuits. When you cut the slices, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan. You don’t want the biscotti being thicker on the top or bottom, since this might cause them to topple over during their second bake.
- Set the biscotti on edge (standing up) on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven and cook them for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until they feel dry and are turning golden. They might still feel a little bit moist in the center, but the biscotti will continue to dry out as they cool.
- After removing the biscotti from the oven, transfer them to a rack to cool. Biscotti will keep for several weeks when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They can also be frozen for up to three months.
- Adapted from American Style Vanilla Biscotti recipe on https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/
Planning to make lots of biscotti?
There are special biscotti pans.
This would eliminate the step of trying to form the sticky dough into logs.
I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.
Now it’s your turn. Did you try this recipe or do you have a family favorite of your own? Please share in the comments or tag @honest_and_simple on Instagram.