Rustic Almond Cookies


Biscotti means cookie in Italian.  It is a generic term.  I often hear people saying that they made biscotti or they ate biscotti.  They leave me guessing as to what kind of cookie it is.  I have to ask what flavor is it – almond, chocolate, or vanilla?  One common characteristic of “biscotti” is that many of them tend to be dry, but not always.  Italians are fond of dry crunchy cookies that that lend themselves to dipping in coffee or wine.  I remember I had baked some Italian cookies, this was late 1980’s, and gave some to my neighbors (a couple).  They were promptly returned to me with the explanation that they (the neighbors) did not eat hard cookies.  Up until a relatively short time ago,  Americans preferred soft cookies.  That was before the “biscotti” craze.  I get a good laugh every time I tell that story because “biscotti” are so popular these days.

These unusual rustic almond cookies do not contain eggs.  It’s an incredibly easy recipe to make, and yes, they are dry cookies.  Using bread flour ups the crunch factor, as does baking them a minute or two longer.

Biscotti Rustici al Mandorla

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

1 pound all-purpose or bread flour (approximately 3 1/2 cups)
2 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Marsala wine
1/2 cup light olive oil
3 tablespoons water
2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk together the flour, almonds, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Combine the Marsala, olive oil, water, and extract in a small bowl.  Add the Marsala to the flour mixture.  Mix the dough with your hands until combined.  Shape dough into walnut-size balls and place 1 ½-inches apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until lightly golden on top.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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