Italian Breakfast Biscotti

Well hello! What say we spend a quiet weekend at home with family? I know, bad joke. But really, at any other point in time that probably sounded like a comforting luxury, so let’s enjoy it. And, how better to enjoy it than with cookies? But, wait, it gets better. How about breakfast cookies? NOW we’re talking.

This recipe come from “A Blissful Feast” the book I mentioned a couple of posts ago, after going to a reading at the Norwich Book Store. The author, the supremely talented Teresa Lust, is my neighbor in bustling Hanover Center, and the reading happened to be that last social event before we all scurried into our holes for the duration. Teresa’s first book, Pass the Polenta got a shout-out from none other than Julia Child, so I knew this chronicle of her culinary journey—through Italian culture, history and family—would be entertaining, informative and well written. As a bonus, it’s full of unfussy recipes that I wanted to try pronto!

Part history, part story and all great recipes

This was the first recipe I wanted to make, and it did not disappoint. I love that these call for olive oil instead of butter, which helps when cooking with heart health in mind, and means you don’t have to soften butter. I also love that they use lemon zest because the only things I have hoarded are Meyer lemons. And I love that I now have a new creation that impresses my kids and makes everyone happy at any time of day. When Teresa graciously encouraged me to share the recipe here, she warned me that it was possible to eat half the batch in one sitting. She was not wrong.

As I prepare to make them again, I need to time production so I have some left for tomorrow’s Easter festivities which include…cookies for breakfast and not much else. I’m saving A Blissful Feast for bedtime reading, going through it slowly, imagining a trip to Italy and enjoying it like a long family meal. 

A few notes: This is the recipe exactly as it is written in the book, but with a few *notes where Teresa provided some extra guidance and assurance for the baking impaired (like me). I suspected these would be great with other fruit/nut combos, and Teresa gives that a big thumbs up, especially dried cherries or cranberries and almonds, pistachios. or hazelnuts. I say any combo that speaks to you (ideally from your pantry).

Cantucci: Breakfast Biscotti

Makes about 4 dozen

These twice baked cookies are traditionally served with a sweet dessert wine at the end of the meal. The addition of dried apricots, almonds and oats gives them all the ingredients you need for breakfast, too, served with an espresso or steaming cup of caffelatte.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour, plus 1 Tbsp for tossing with apricot pieces
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup blanched almonds, (whole or slivered)
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats (not instant)

Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Place sugar, eggs and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until smooth. Add lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract, and continue mixing, until combined.

In a small bowl, toss remaining tablespoon of flour with dried apricots to keep the pieces from sticking and set aside.

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, stirring just until blended and make sure to scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a spatula to thoroughly incorporate dough.

Stir in chopped apricots, almonds, and oats. Covered though and refrigerate 30 minutes (or up to several hours or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a baking sheet or lined with parchment paper. Divide dough in half, roll into logs (about 12 x 2 inches) and place on baking sheet a few inches apart.*

Flatten the logs into loaves about 1 inch high. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Let loaves cool slightly, then cut into 1/2 inch slices.** Arrange cut side down on baking sheet and return to oven until biscotti start to harden and turn golden (they’ll still feel a bit soft, but will continue to harden as they cool), 15 to 20 minutes.

Teresa’s guidance:

*I roll them out on the counter—I don’t dust the counter with flour, but if they are sticky you could do that. (There’s a lot of variation in different types/brands of flour, also humidity and freshness of flour can affect things.) Then I transfer them  to a baking sheet.

**I cut them on a cutting board, while they are still warm, but cool enough to handle, I’ve used both a chef’s knife and a serrated bread knife, which works better if you’ve forgotten about them and let them cool down all the way.

Partially baked, sliced and ready for the final act.

and then there’s this option

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