Two wrist-slaps for me: I made these so long ago, I can't even remember when at this point. And I was oh-so-sure I blogged about them. But you know what? I didn't. I realized this yesterday, when I was poking around a great blog I recently discovered (which, in coincidence of coincidences, belongs to an acquaintance of mine from college), and came across a post about biscotti that's so good, it begs not to be dipped in chocolate. "I make those, too!" I thought, at which point I started poking around my own little blog for any mention of what are, without a doubt, my favorite biscotti ever. Nothing.
My goldfish-memory aside, I'll now remedy that situation. These biscotti are truly the best I've ever made. They've got a healthy handful of dried cherries, chopped home-toasted almonds, and just the right amounts of cinnamon and sugar to make them subtly sweet and spicy, not overly so. You know what else? They're mighty good for you, in the not-bad-for-you kind of way.
I developed my ideal recipe by starting with some basic recipes from a go-to cookbook on my shelf, The New Best Recipe, and consulting the cookbook's advice on how different proportions of egg yolk and butter affect the final product. I like my biscotti dry, crisp, and so crunchy they could (almost) crack a tooth, so I use only egg whites and no butter. If you prefer them less crunchy, more cakey, or more cookie-like, see the note at the beginning of my recipe.
As far as flavorings and add-ins, almost anything goes. TNBR offers orange-almond, lemon-anise, and cinnamon-spice as options, but any dried fruit, nut, seed, spice, or extract would be lovely.
Cherry Almond Biscotti adapted from The New Best Recipe
As I mentioned above, I used 3 egg whites and no butter to produce a very crunchy cookie. For slightly less crunchy biscotti, use 2 eggs instead. For a more cookie-like texture, use 2 eggs and 4 Tbsp. butter. For cakier biscotti, use 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks, an extra 1/4 cup of flour, and 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda.
2 cups flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 1 cup sugar 3 large egg whites 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1 Tbsp. zest from an orange or lemon 3/4 cup whole almonds with skins, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped 3/4 cup cherries, raisins, or currants
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder (and soda if using), and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Whisk the sugar, zest and eggs (whatever part of them you're using) in a large bowl until light yellow. Add in vanilla. Sprinkle dry ingredients over egg mixture and fold until just combined. Add in almonds and cherries, and fold until just incorporated.
Halve the dough and turn both portions onto the baking sheet. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of the dough into a rough 13 by 2-inch loaf. Place the loaves about 3 inches apart on baking sheet and bake until golden and just beginning to crack, about 35 minutes, turning sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven, transfer loaves to cutting board using large spatula, and turn oven down to 325. Cut loaves on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place about 1/2 an inch apart on baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake until golden all over, about 10 minutes, turning cookies over halfway through. Cool on a wire rack. Biscotti will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 month.