Corby Kummer's Unbeatable Biscotti

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Corby Kummer says:

I spent about two months perfecting this recipe, going through 18 full batches before hitting on the exact formula. After I published the recipe, it generated a steady series of requests that still hasn't stopped a decade later. Bakers often tell me that no matter how many biscotti recipes they try, this is the one they stick with. They're not something I let myself make very often, though. I have absolutely no control over how many I eat.

These are the incredibly crisp kind that break in your mouth like glass and pack a roasted-almond punch, with no butter or other fat to distract you -- just good, hard cookies and roasted nuts.

bullet 1 cups whole almonds, blanched or unblanched
bullet 2 cups all-purpose flour
bullet 1 cup sugar
bullet 1 teaspoon baking soda
bullet 3 large eggs
bullet teaspoon pure vanilla extract
bullet Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil, shiny side up. Arrange the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds.

2a. If you are using a mixer with a paddle attachment, follow these instructions: Stir together the dry ingredients. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla. Blend the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients at the lowest speed; the dough should cohere. It will be heavy and sticky. Pour in the nuts in 2 additions, beating just until the nuts begin to break. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and fold it over itself 3 or 4 times to distribute the nuts. Let the dough rest for a minute or two before going to step 3.

2b. If you are using a food processor, follow these instructions: Whirl the eggs and vanilla for 5 seconds. Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add them to the food processor, cup at a time, pulsing about 5 times after each addition, until the dough almost incorporates the flour; the dough will not quite form a ball. Add the nuts in 2 additions, pulsing 5 times after each one. The dough will still not cohere, and the nuts will not be well distributed. Turn out the pieces of dough onto a floured board, and with well-floured hands, fold the pieces over a dozen or so times in a rough kneading motion, or until the nuts are better distributed and the dough coheres. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes before going to step 3.

3. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Working with lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a rope about 1 inch wide and between 12 and 14 inches long. For larger biscotti, divide the dough in half and make 2 wider logs. Place the logs on the baking sheets, leaving at least 4 inches between each log.

4. Bake for 50 minutes, reversing the sheets top to bottom halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on. Gently peel off the parchment paper or foil and place the bars on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the bars every inch on the diagonal. Place the cookies, cut sides up, on the 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for between 35 and 50 minutes, depending on how dark you like the cookies. Cool on a rack. Store the cookies in a container that admits air, which will keep them from softening.

Yield: 4 DOZEN 3" COOKIES OR 2 DOZEN 6"COOKIES

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