White Chocolate, Almond, and Apricot Biscotti

Merry Almost-Christmas everyone! If you're still in full-on baking mode -- I certainly am -- here's a final cookie recipe to add to the mix, which seems especially appropriate given cookies are after all the treat of choice for Santa himself, no?

I'm still excited for Christmas as a 28 year old -- how can you not be excited about a time of year whose official food is gingerbread and hot chocolate?! --  but my excitement is nothing compared to that of the Francesca of 20+ years ago. December was a whirlwind of emotions for my tiny self;  I was anxious to find out if Santa would remember to bring me my much coveted and highly popular Furby; I was curious to see whether or not Elliot M., the meanest kid in the class, would wake up to a stocking full of coal; I was slightly worried that we would accidentally happen on Santa on our way home from the Christmas Eve evening mass our family attended, leaving him no choice but to escape before leaving all our gifts. Mostly, though, I was incredibly excited, and my favorite task in the midst of all the excitement (future foodie and baker that I was to become) was setting out snack for Santa and the reindeer. I opted for Keebler M&M cookies -- my favorite cookie, hopefully up to Santa's standards -- and baby carrots for the reindeer (I'd heard carrots were good for the eyes, and they needed to see in the snow). I arranged it all on our nicest Christmas plate, and placed it with care by the fireplace, a little to the right so Santa wouldn't step on his snacks on his way out. The next morning, the fact that Santa had also opted for the same wrapping paper that my mother had bought this year occurred to me, but was quickly forgotten in the whirlwind of gift opening. Indeed, there was no day more magical, mysterious, and thrilling for me then December 25th. 

I learned a a year or two later of course that it was my dad who ate the cookies (my mom took care of the carrots and apples). Had I known what I know now, I'd have left out these White Chocolate, Almond, and Apricot Biscotti, which match up far better with my dad's sophisticated taste buds (I can't imagine he enjoyed the Keebler's cookies all that much). These biscotti -- which go by the name cantucci in Italy -- are cookies in their Christmas best, elegant and festive, full of crunchy almonds, chewy apricots, and chunks of sweet white chocolate, intensely almond-y with a kick of brandy to keep things interesting. They are crisp, perfect for dipping in coffee, but not overly so as some biscotti/cantucci tend to be, with a softer inside. My mom makes them every Christmas, without fail, and I can't imagine The Best Day of the Year without them. They get the stamp of approval from our 15 year old beagle Snoopy, too, who came to investigate as I was photographing the cookies. 
I'll be back soon with a New Year's recipe or two, plus a post on a trip to New York City. In the meantime, Happy Holidays and happy eating everyone!

A couple of notes: Fun fact: Non-Italians know this sort of cookie as "biscotti," but their proper name is actually cantucci (biscotti simply means "cookies" in Italian). They originally hail from the Tuscany region of Italy. We baked a batch of Espresso, Dark Chocolate, and Dried Cranberry Biscotti (or cantucci) to go along with these -- you can get the recipe here where they go by Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Biscotti. If you'd like, you can substitute any liqueur, dried fruit, or chocolate you'd like for the apricot brandy, apricots, and white chocolate. These are easiest when made with a food processor, but can be made without one, too; whisk together the dry ingredients, then work the butter in with your fingertips or a pastry cutter. Chop the white chocolate and almonds separately, and then add them to the dough by hand. Note that these cookies stay fresh for up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Looking for other Christmas appropriate bars or cookies? I've got these Double Chocolate Chunk Cookiesthese Magical, 5 ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, these Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroonsthese Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies, this Shortbread, these Chocolate Chip Cookies, and these Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies.


2 3/4 cups (370 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (112 grams, or 1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons (9 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces (98 grams) white chocolate
1 2/3 cups (about 250 grams) whole almonds, toasted
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons (70ml) apricot brandy
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 ounces (168 grams) dried apricots, diced

Line a large cookie sheet with lightly buttered aluminum foil and st aside. Combine the butter, flour, ginger, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a the bowl of a food processor, and ingredients in processor and process until the mixture takes on a sandy consistency. Add toasted almonds and chop coarsely, using 6 to 8 on/off turns. Add white chocolate and process until chopped. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brandy, and almond extract. Add the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms, then stir in the apricots. Beat the eggs, brandy and almond extract to blend in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture, apricots, and stir until a dough begins to form. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius). When the dough has chilled, turn it out on to a clean floured work surface and shape it into a log about 2 inches wide. Transfer the log to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. 

Bake the dough until golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to an oven rack and let cool completely. Reduce heat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut logs from sides of pan if necessary. Transfer to work surface. Using heavy sharp knife, cut each log crosswise into 3/4 inch wide slices. Arrange half of cookies cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, gently turn cookies over and bake 10 minutes longer. Transfer cookies to racks. Repeat baking with remaining cookies. Cool cookies completely before eating. Makes about 35 cookies.

No comments :

Post a Comment