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Wednesday, November 1

Better Than the Cafe Almond-Orange Biscotti & It's Easy

It often seems a bit trivial or insignificant to share a recipe or a craft, when there are so many much more serious things, problems, devastation going on around us. These last few weeks have been horrendous for my County and State. I live in a beautiful little town, smack dab in the middle of Northern California, that you have undoubtedly heard about on the news, we have had the worst firestorms in our state's history in the past few weeks. So much devastation is heartbreaking. However, I am safe... My Family is safe and sound... I'm abundantly grateful to be able to profess to that fact and yet I worked at our church's evacuation center, with hundreds of others, volunteering, trying to do something...anything.. to help our community that was so irreversibly changed forever. Historical landmarks, that we grew up with, gone forever.
Thousands of families don't have a home to go home to. And so we do our best... we provide all we can, physically, for their needs and we pray. We comfort them as best we can, knowing we can't fully imagine the loss that they feel. We pray that somehow God will turn their tragedy into an unseen blessing. Because what else can we do? I continue to pray for them and to give thanks for my family's own safety.  We continue a donation center for their ongoing needs. The one thing that IS certain, the community I live in is so incredibly awesome! The generosity of time, money, prayers, whatever the need they are all over it above and beyond. We express an evacuee's need and it is filled tenfold within a couple hours. Amazing! This has become quite a popular image in our county over the past month
and..I couldn't be more #SonomaProud.
  I think it is in times like this that we truly must bake, decorate, do whatever it is that we can do to "feather our own nest" so to speak, to find some sense of normalcy. After all, it truly isn't the four walls around us that make our house a home. It's the love, care, people, memories and traditions that make us who we are, complete and define us.  
With that in mind, I am sharing with you, today, my recipe for my Almond-Orange Biscotti. This is a newer favorite of mine. I've been making these for the past three or four years and they have been a huge success with my family and friends.  So much so, that last year for Christmas a double batch was my gift to my Sister and her husband. :) So whether you are starting your holiday baking or just really want to add a yummy new recipe to your repertoire, these are delicious.
This was one recipe that, when I started, I must admit I was a little bit intimidated by. Which is just silly because it couldn't be easier. I saw the bakers on that British baking contest show being given Biscotti as a baking challenge and thought, I can do that! You know what I was right! They used all kinds of different combinations of ingredients and you can personalize this recipe to your own tastes too. I love the combination of almonds and orange together. I just think they are a marriage made in heaven, but if you like something else please adapt this to your liking.
(Roughly chopped, stop chopping when they look like this)
However, if you are going to use almonds, may I make a suggestion, that I think makes a gigantic difference?!  Don't buy roasted almonds. Just don't. It is SO easy to roast your own and then you are sure to get the flavor and freshness you like. Tell a friend your roasting your own almonds! They will think you are a gourmet! It amazes me how many people are surprised by this very easy step. Buy Raw Almonds at your local Sprouts or whole foods supplier, for this recipe you need at least a cup and a half, maybe a little more. I wait until they go on sale and stock up. They keep well and I roast what I need right before using them in my baking.
To roast your almonds, spread them out on a baking/cookie sheet in a single layer, place in a preheated oven at 325*F until you start to smell them. It's heavenly! About 20-25 minutes, depending on how you like them. They will continue to cook a little after you have removed them from the oven so keep that in mind when you are checking them. That's it! No Salt. No oil! Nothing. You are using them for baking, so you want them to be simply pure wonderful roasted almond goodness!  (You may want to make a handful or two more than you need for your recipe because if you're anything like me you'll need to 'taste test' several before they fully cool.. Insert smiley here. :) ) Assemble your ingredients. See the recipe card at bottom of the page.
I always think it's a little daunting when starting a new type of baking and your not sure what it is supposed to look like.  Therefore, I like to add as many images as I can for you to see, so you know you are on the right path.  This is what your batter looks like after you have creamed your butter and sugar, added your eggs, zest and flavorings.
Yes, it has a bit of a curdled look, but that's okay. That is how it is supposed to look.
After adding your flour mixture with chopped almonds, your finished cookie dough should look something like this. May I just tell you I think I would make this even if nobody liked them but me? I'm serious, the combination of the fresh orange zest with the almond and vanilla extracts produces an aroma that is just short of Heaven.
I am aware that there are special Biscotti baking pans for sale out there, however, I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would waste their money. Honestly, a simple baking sheet with some parchment paper is all you need.  You are going to form to "logs" of Biscotti dough after you turn it out onto a floured surface and divide the dough in half. I start with standard logs about 14-16" long, and then I take my knuckles and lightly press down the sides of the log. This creates that perfect Biscotti shape. I'm sure there are hundreds of other ways create that look, but this really works quite well and couldn't be easier.  Your finished Biscotti logs should look like this. Now here is a Tip I find works quite well:  wash your hands well, with hot water, with your wet hands just kind of rub your hands over your formed dough, it removes the excess flour and just seals it a bit. You don't have to do this step, but I do find I get a better result when I do. (it's not necessary to remove every sign of flour)
Biscotti actually means twice cooked (or baked) in Latin. In fact, The word biscotti, in this sense, shares its origin with the British English word "biscuit", which describes what American English-speakers refer to as a "cookie". In modern Italian, the word biscotti refers to any cookie or cracker, just as does the British use of the word "biscuit". The number of bakings or hardness is not relevant to the term. In America, the term "biscotti" refers only to this specific Italian cookie. I know. I'm a bit of a food nerd, but I love to learn! 
(Your Biscotti, after their first bake should look like this. Immediately mist them with your spring or purified water and let sit for five minutes before cutting)  Using this trick will help prevent your cookies from crumbling under your knife.
Please don't be deterred if you get some crumbs or a few of your Biscotti crumble, most will turn out just perfectly and the odds and ends are for the chef! Lucky us!
Return your cut cookies to the oven for their second bake, with your heat now decreased from 350*F to 300*F. This step takes about another 20-25 minutes. When you are done with your 2nd bake, they will look something like this. :)  Yay! You have just made Biscotti! Not to mention roasted your own almonds.
For the finishing touch (not all people like chocolate and this step can be omitted) I personally love it!  Melt a cup of your favorite chocolate, I add a teaspoon of canola oil for that nice shiny look, but it's not necessary, pour it onto to a flat plate, this makes your dipping much easier and keeps you significantly cleaner. Dip one side of your cookie and place chocolate side down onto wax paper. Allow the chocolate to set and place them in an airtight container to store if you're lucky enough to keep them around for awhile. 
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. Thank you so much for joining me. 

 Thank you to all of you who have reached out to inquire about my safety and added your prayers on my behalf. If you are reading this and you have ever been devastated by wildfires, please know that my prayers are with you.

This blog has a printer friendly button, so feel free to use it and just print the section of the post with the recipe card. Cut it out and add it to your own. Nobody will ever know.


This post was Graciously FEATURED by these beautiful Bloggers!
Miz Helen's Country Cottage,  Snickerdoodle Sunday

9 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you're safe, Theresa. I can only imagine the horror that so many are going through. My sister in law sent a photo of one of those signs to us.

    I love the history of the biscotti! Your recipe sounds and looks amazing! I've never made it, but I'm going to put this on my holiday baking list this year. Pinning to remember! I hope you'll stop by Snickerdoodle on Saturday and share with our party!

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    1. Thank you so much, Beverly. Yes, the devastation is so widespread its heart wrenching. I'm so glad you like my Biscotti. I'm sure you will be happy if you do make them this year. They truly are delicious. Popping over to share at your wonderful party!
      Big hugs, my friend.

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    2. You're welcome, Theresa. I'm popping back by to let you know that I'll be featuring your biscotti at today's Snickerdoodle Party. Thanks for joining us!

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  2. I am so glad that you and your family are safe. I love biscotti. I have not made them but I just might try these. Great post and tutorial on baking them. I hope you will share these at Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop that goes live tonight at 7 pm.
    have a great week,
    /Bev

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    1. Thanks so much, Bev. You definitely should make these! So much easier than you think. And the pay off is so worth it! Thanks for the invite. Popping over to share! :)

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  3. This looks delicious! We just started the Whisk It Wednesday link party and I thought you might be interested in sharing there too! Thanks, Carrie

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    1. Thank you so much, Carrie! Popping over to share at your new party! Thanks for the comment and invite!

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  4. I am glad you are safe Theresa. The fires have been unbelievable. Comfort food looks like a great idea. Your biscotti looks delicious. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

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  5. You make it look so simple (and they look yummy!) Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party!

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I love, love your comments and I do read every single one. They totally make my day. If you have a specific question, make sure I can answer you back by adding your email to your google/blog account! Thanks so much for the visit.