Sunday, March 15, 2009

Traveller's Biscotti

I apologize, dear reader, for such a prolonged absence--and hope you won't be too upset that it might be for a bit longer. You see, in my other life I am an aspiring professor, and it is that facet of my being that needs attention at the moment as I traipse across the country, visiting schools and seeing various futures unfold (or crumple) before me.

From West to East, city to countryside, the decision process is one long act of imagination and endurance. And with all of this travelling, it's useful to have travelling food, something easily transportable, nourishing and encouraging. My mother called it "Emergency Food," tucking a bar of chocolate or a banana into my backpack "just in case", and although I groaned at the time, I secretly cherished the idea and enjoyed the snack. This time around is no different: whether Pink Lady apples at Emory, peanut butter sandwiches at Yale, or tangelos at Columbia, I find the food I bring marvelously and magically sustaining--and often just at the moment I need it most.

And I've discovered another type of morale-boosting travelling food: the "Thank-You-For-Hosting-Me-in-a-Strange-Land Food," otherwise known as the host(ess) gift. So far I've done banana bread and store-bought chocolate, but as the upcoming trip encompasses four stops, I may require something both a bit more durable and economical. What to do? Ah!...

Smitten Kitchen's Almond Biscotti
serves several kind hosts (and, from time to time, one weary traveller)

Biscotti are magnificently easy, a good blend of delightful (cookies!) and sophisticated (grown-up cookies!). These are no exception. They're fragrant and golden with a nose of orange, almond and vanilla--a gift, in other words, that magically makes friends wherever you go. Note: I didn't have the orange liqueur, so I just substituted the juice from the zested orange.

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. Grand Marnier or orange liqueur, or 2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped or sliced almonds
1 large egg white

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, orange juice and zest in large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in almonds.

Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each dough log.

Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature (or wrapped up with a bow, to be shared wherever.)

I am also on the market for other delightful biscotti recipes. Please post if you have one! Thank you, and enjoy!


  1. You've been baking homemade treats for your hostesses? You must be an excellent guest. :)

  2. One can only hope! I do think the old adage is true--the way to people's hearts is through their stomachs. Kind of a grotesque image medically speaking, isn't it? :P

  3. Mmm... I prefer going straight through the ribcage, myself.

    Oops. I think that was even worse. :P