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Wednesday, May 28

Parents love Biscotti

I often have a fantastic time when my mom visits us. Not only does she stay for extended time, she always comes with plans to cook all kinds of food I don’t normally make. Last time she visited she taught me how to make khaman or tried. I have attempted khaman on my own but they aren’t as good as when she is here; there’s a reason I learn new recipes from her!

In addition to making Indian food few days, she wanted to learn to make ethnic recipes. One was a recipe for chicken in pumpkin seed sauce (reminiscent of Mexican cuisine). I have made green sauce in US using tomatillos (that green fruit originated in Mexico look like tomatoes but come in skins known as husks, sticky on the peel and taste tart). Since Tomatillos aren’t available here in Germany so I have been making the green sauce without them. Blending pumpkin seeds, garlic, Serrano peppers, spices and cilantro into a smooth paste makes for a great sauce.

The recipe I am sharing today is one of her and my dad’s favorites. The one requested item that they ask me to bring is biscotti. So I thought I’d show her how to make it and take some for home.

I had been using another recipe in the past but when I stumbled upon the NPR recipe. After trying this recipe I can attest it is a keeper! I slightly modified the recipe.

Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti
Makes about 36 biscotti (3/4-inch-wide cookies)

3 cups unsalted whole almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In a large bowl, hand mix toasted almonds, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add the vanilla and whisk until well blended. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times. Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 4 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place 1 piece of dough, and using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long, 2 inches wide and 3/4 of an inch high. If it's sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of dough. Place 2 logs per baking sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 3/4-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a back and forth motion to prevent crumbling. Each loaf should yield 9 to 11 cookies. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don't let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides back on the baking sheets. Place in the still warm oven with the temperature off and the door closed for 30 to 60 minutes. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they will become. Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in an airtight container, preferably a tin, which helps keep them crisp. Stored properly, biscotti will last up to a month.

These did not last a month, more like 1 week, a testament to the taste.

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