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Croq-Télé (Almond Cookies)
Almond, Anise, and Orange Biscotti
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups whole blanched almonds
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks, plus 1 egg white for glaze
- 2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for glaze
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon whole anise seeds
- Freshly grated zest of 1 large orange
These biscotti are wonderfully aromatic, thanks to anise seeds and orange zest. If you can’t find anise seeds, fennel seeds make a fine substitute. I like to the chop the almonds into fairly large pieces, which look pretty when the biscotti are sliced and provide a satisfying crunch. A serrated knife is the best way to chop roughly by hand, or you can crush the nuts with a heavy saucepan or pound them in a mortar with a pestle. A food processor will chop the nuts too unevenly, pulverizing some of them into a powder while leaving others whole.
The fun part of making biscotti is being creative with the slices. You can flatten your logs of dough slightly to create thinner biscotti or leave them round for a plumper shape. Slicing the biscotti on a sharp diagonal as opposed to a slight bias produces different shapes and sizes too. Long and thin makes for easy dunking into coffee or vin santo, while thicker, rounder biscotti are better for packing up and sending afar.
- 1Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Using a sharp knife, coarsely chop the almonds and set them aside.
- 2In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs, the egg yolks, and the 2 cups sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. The mixture will look somewhat curdled. Beat in the vanilla extract, anise seeds, and orange zest. Beat in the dry ingredients, then the chopped nuts, to make a soft dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 2 hours, or until it is firm enough to handle.
- 3Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment paper.
- 4Divide the dough into 5 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, shape each portion of the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 10 inches long. Place 2 of the logs on one of the baking sheets, 3 inches apart, and 3 of the logs on the second baking sheet, also 3 inches apart. In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until frothy. With a pastry brush, glaze each log with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.
- 5Bake the logs until they are lightly golden brown, firm to the touch, and just beginning to crack slightly, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. Allow the logs to cool on the baking sheets on a wire rack until they are cool to the touch, about 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F.
- 6With a sharp, serrated knife, slice the cooled biscotti slightly on the bias into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Lay the slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Return them to the oven and cook for 20 minutes more, or until they are toasted, dry, and crisp. Cool the biscotti completely on the baking sheets, then store them in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.