I LOVE BISCOTTI!
I’ve made Biscotti for years. They are easy to make, so easy to add your own touches to, and they make great gifts. They also last forever on the counter or in the fridge/freezer (well, in theory).
I first baked them using a book called Death by Chocolate Cookies by Marcel Desaulniers. Mine is the 1993 volume, which you can now find on sale through that link for a great bargain price since new versions are out, no doubt with new updated recipes… hmmm… I should get one. (By the way, one of the possible names for this blog when I was coming up with ideas was “CookbookAddiction.”)
Anyway… back to the topic.
Biscotti. Yummy crispy cookies you can eat dry or dip in coffee, which is my favorite thing to do with them.
Making the cookies for years with Desaulnier’s recipe, I eventually veered away from the recipe and made my own flavors and experimented with other recipes I found over the internet or in magazines, often combining different recipes to create better ones. But if you are just starting out, you can’t miss with Desaulnier’s book.
This week, I wanted to make some Biscotti, but I also wanted to try to make them gluten-free, since I have a wealth of Almond Flour on hand (Costco sells 3lb Blanched Almond Flour for $11.99, which is a steal!), and I have some friends who eat gluten-free foods.
So, I did a little cursory research around the net for how to substitute almond flour for regular flour and looking at GF recipes, and I found you can more or less just use the flours interchangeably, though other ingredients change – you don’t use liquids like milk, and you use far less butter and eggs. Some people add a lot of GF additives, various oils or gums, etc but I’m not bothering with that. I wanted to keep it simple with ingredients most people will have on hand.
So, I made two batches of Gluten-Free Biscotti, experimenting with blanched and unblanched almond flours, and also with amounts of butter, and different sugars.
In the first batch, I used the Costco Superfine Blanched Almond flour, Turbinado Sugar, and 3 tbs of butter. I flavored the Biscotti with Orange zest (about 2 tbs, though you could do 3), and chopped up some SCHARFFEN BERGER Dark Chocolate.
In the second, I used some leftover Bob’s Red Mill Superfine unblanched flour I had on hand, white sugar, and 2 tbs of butter. I chopped up more chocolate and added some chopped Trader Joe’s Tart Cherries.
(By way of comparison, Desaulniers’ recipe uses 2 STICKS of butter…).
Here is the recipe I came up with:
- 2 cups Blanched/Unblanched Almond Flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp bk powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 tbs softened unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or whatever you want to use, lemon, almond, coconut, etc)
- Flavorings/additions as desired.
Mix the flour and the butter until well-blended (I used my stand mixer, but you can do this by hand or with a hand mixer — it’s a very wet dough). Add the eggs, salt, and baking powder and mix. Then add your extracts and flavorings in your desired amounts.
Scrape the wet/sticky dough out onto a piece of parchment placed on a cookie sheet, and shape it into a log about 14-16” long and 3-4” wide. Gently shape it a bit on top and on the sides, as well as you can. (Next time I will get a photo of this, as I should have done, sorry!).
Bake at 350F for 30 min, turning the tray halfway through. Cool for about an hour, then slice the cookies on the bias. Bake again for 45 min at 225F, turning them cookies over about halfway through to make sure they dry out (you can also leave them in longer if they aren’t dry enough). You should end up, depending on how you shape and cut them with at least 18 cookies from one log.
I imagine you could double this recipe with no problems. The mixing is fast – the baking is what takes the time. So these are good to make if you want to make cookies and have plenty of time to go read or do something else while they are baking, or you can do the first bake, leave them if you need to go out, and do the drying later.
Both batches looked fine, they sliced easily and dried nicely (more easily than regular biscotti, actually), but the first batch with the blanched flour and more butter looked nicer — they spread out nicely, didn’t have as many cracks, and I liked the taste better, too. They also softened nicely when dipped in coffee.
The second batch was fine – it made a good cookie, but it cracked more, and I don’t think tasted as good – it definitely did not melt as nicely when dipped in coffee.
Both batches seemed to leave me with a sort of slightly bitter aftertaste (to be fair, this seems to only bother me – Mike and a friend said they didn’t notice or have a problem with that).
I’d like to make a batch of the orange/chocolate ones again, but I would perhaps add more butter, maybe as much as 4tbs (will this make them spread too much? I think it might make them crack even less). But the bitter taste – maybe from the almonds, or from the baking powder? I might try to beat that by adding a bit more sugar, or more extract. I don’t think you can go less than the 1 tsp of baking powder. One more egg might make a softer cookie as well.
So we’ll see what happens next time. But, if you need a good gluten-free cookie for your family or for a dessert or gift, these will definitely work – you could also ice them, dip them in chocolate, or do any of the decorative things you do with traditional Biscotti.
Even if you aren’t gluten free, these are a much lower carb cookie with higher protein, lower glycemic index. They have fat content from the almond flour and eggs/butter, but I think the ration of “good fat” is probably higher than in traditional biscotti. For people who are not GF, but want to cut some of the white flour, you could likely do half and half. I found they are quite satisfying, and one or two cookies was enough for me.
If you make them, please post your results and any changes you make. 😊