Providing you today with a foolproof guide teaching you How to Make Biscotti. Filled with almonds, this classic Almond Biscotti Recipe produces perfectly crunchy, flavoursome, traditional cookies. Much easier to bake than you could imagine, you’ll be amazed at how simple biscotti are to make.
From holidays in Italy as a child through to visiting Italy as an adult, I have always loved biscotti. (Let’s be honest, cookies are always a favourite in my household, particularly Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies or Lemon Poppy Seed Madeleines) However, in truth, I always felt they were quite tricky to make.
I could not be more wrong!! Whilst developing my Simply Sweet Nostalgic Bakes Cookbook, I knew that I wanted to include a biscotti recipe within the pages. After much testing, I developed a Pistachio Cranberry White Chocolate Recipe that I truly love. And I also learnt how easy biscotti are to make!
I’ve gone back to basics for you today and shared with you a traditional Italian Almond Biscotti recipe, otherwise known as Cantuccini Toscani, with all my hints, tips and a visual guide so that you can learn the basics with me.
These tried and tested biscotti are also soon to be sold on Emma Duckworth Bakes's latest venture, Dear Coco. Speciality coffee, a selection of my bakes and a variety of little sweets, sold from a converted Piaggio Apè. I mean, coffee and biscotti go perfectly together!! Perfecto!
A little about biscotti
Before we delve into how to make biscotti from scratch, let's briefly look at where it originated from. As you will have guessed from my mentions above, these delightful oblong biscuits/cookies come from Italy or Tuscany, to be more precise.
The word 'biscotti' when translated to English, means 'twice baked'. And that's exactly what happens during the process of making these biscuits. The dough gets shaped into logs and then baked to cook the dough.
Afterwards, it's cooled slightly, then cut and baked again to dry the biscuit out. Due to the second bake, the shelf life of these cookies is unbelievable!
Aficionados will know that biscotti filled with almonds are also known as ‘cantuccini toscani’ - that’s what we’re making today. If you want to enjoy biscotti like a true Italian, dip these beauties into vin santo, sweet dessert wine or dunk them into coffee or tea for an equally delicious approach.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Store cupboard ingredients. This recipe uses basic ingredients found within your kitchen. If you don't have orange zest, use lemon or leave it out. Substitute almond extract for vanilla.
- One-bowl wonder. This simple dough comes together in the one-bowl - we love these types of recipes!
- Super adaptable. I touched on this in the first point by subbing ingredients if you don't have them. But you can create your own variations using different nuts and adding dried fruit or chocolate.
- Lasts for ages. As this biscuit gets twice-baked, it dries out the moisture making these suitable to be stored at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
- Whole almonds - You can you whole almonds with the skin on or blanched almonds. My preference is whole almonds, as when roasted for ten minutes, they impart a beautiful toasty flavour to the biscotti.
- Sugar - Granulated or caster, white or golden sugar can be used.
- Orange zest - Lemon or orange zest will work in your biscotti - it adds another layer to the flavour profile- strongly recommended!
- Flour - Use plain (all-purpose) flour.
- Baking powder & salt - Just a little baking powder to create lift and a little salt to counteract the sweetness.
- Eggs - I use large eggs as standard.
- Unsalted Butter - If you use salted butter, then leave out the separate salt in the recipe
- Almond extract - I find just a little helps enhance the almond flavour. Don't go overboard, though!
- Egg wash & extra sugar- The egg wash gives a lovely sheen to the top edge of the biscotti, and the sugar adds a little sweetness. These two can be omitted if you like.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
The process of making these delectable Italian biscuits is pretty straightforward. I get the most flavour out of our simple ingredients; I’ve added two extra steps to the method, step 1. toasting the almonds and step 2. releasing the orange zest oils. When using only a few ingredients in a recipe, my belief is to make the most of them to their best ability. Ultimately- you do you, though!
1. Preheat the oven and toast almonds. Preheat oven toast almonds onto a baking tray for 10 minutes. Chop them coarsely once cooled. Keep the oven on. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. (Image 1)
Toasting the almonds is a step that you can miss out on if you don't have the time, I love the toasty flavour it imparts, but you can use the almonds untoasted or even blanched almonds.
2. Release oils from the orange zest. Rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips for a full 1 minute. (Image 2) Again this is another step that can be bypassed, and the sugar and orange zest are added along with the wet ingredients. But read my tip below as to why I recommend doing it.
TIP: Rubbing the zest and sugar together is a sure-fire way of imparting more orange flavour to the biscotti. It massages all the beautiful oils from the zest into the sugar. You'll know it's working as the sugar will change colour and consistency and will smell divine! Use this trick when adding zest to any of your bakes.
NOTE: To customise your biscotti, sub the orange zest for lemon, mandarine or even lime zest. Or omit it altogether.
3. Add dry and then wet ingredients and mix. Sift in the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt into the sugar. (Image 3)
Make a well in the centre, then add the wet ingredients; eggs, butter and almond extract. (Image 4) Using a wooden spoon, work from the middle out to mix the ingredients until just combined. (Image 5 & 6)
NOTE: To customise your biscotti, sub the almond extract for vanilla extract if you want less of an almond flavour. Add any spices such as ginger, cardamom or cinnamon into the dry ingredients at this point.
4. Add the almonds and mix them into the dough. Add the chopped almonds into your bowl and mix until a shaggy dough forms (you can use a spoon or your hands for this!)
TIP: If the dough feels like it'll be too sticky for your to shape, then just refrigerate it for 30 to 45 mins at this point.
NOTE: To customise your biscotti recipe, sub the almonds for other nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia or pinenuts and add in dried fruit such as dried cranberries or cherries, or chocolate chips at the same time.
5. Shape dough. I find this part easiest doing it on a lightly floured surface - but you can do it straight onto the prepared baking tray if you prefer! Lightly dust your hands and the surface with flour and turn out the dough. Divide the dough into two and roll each portion into the shape of a log. (Image 9)
I then place each log onto the tray and continue shaping from there. You want the two halves to be 30cm long x 5cm wide (12-in x 2–in). (Image 10) And make sure to leave space between the logs, as the dough will spread while baking. When the log is the right size, wet your fingers slightly to smooth the dough and flatten the tops.
6. Egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Brush each log with egg wash (Image 11) and then sprinkle with the remaining sugar. (Image 12)
7. Bake and slice. Bake the biscotti for about 20 to 25 minutes. You want it firm and golden. (Image 13) Then let the biscotti logs cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 135°C (275°F). After 10 minutes, using a sharp knife, cut the logs diagonally into 2cm (3⁄4-inch) slices. (Image 14) Place the slices on their sides on the parchment-covered baking tray. (Image 15)
8. Bake again. It's time for a second bake now. They go bake in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry and crisp, turning halfway through the baking time. (Image 16) Then cool, and they're ready to be enjoyed!
TIP: These biscotti aren't 'break your teeth' rock hard. They do have a slight give in them. If you want very dry, hard biscotti, add another 10 or so minutes to the bake time.
NOTE: Most recipes recommend using a serrated knife to cut the biscotti. Personally, I use a combination of a serrated knife and a sharp knife. The serrated helps me cut through that outer lays, whilst the sharp knife cuts through the rest of the biscuit cleanly. Test out both and see what works best for you.
9. White chocolate decoration. This is totally optional. The biscotti are delicious without (my favourite) but some love a little drizzle of chocolate. If you do, then melt the white chocolate before pouring it into a small piping (or sandwich) bag. Snip the corner off and drizzle over cooled biscotti (Image 17).
I share the three most popular ways of decorating biscotti in (Image 18). Either dip the bottom in, dunk the end in chocolate and sprinkle with chopped almonds or drizzle. It’s totally up to you!
Place the baking sheet into the fridge for 10 minutes to help the white chocolate set.
Recipe pro tips
- Maximum flavour. Toast the almonds and infuse the orange zest into the sugar to increase the depth of these flavours.
- Floured work surface and hands. The dough can be wet to touch, and flouring your hands and benchtop will save you when shaping into logs.
- Cooling time. 10 minutes is the perfect time to slice the biscotti. If it cools too much, it can crack and crumble.
- Double bake. My recommendation is 15 minutes to bake for the second round. This dries out the biscotti enough to make it crunchy but not enough to break your teeth.
This biscotti recipe is the foundation for all different variations of biscotti. I just love recipes where you can use the base recipe and substitute your own ingredients to make your own cherished version. Omit the almonds, orange zest and almond extract from this recipe, and you have the perfect base recipe.
Additions can be spices, various extracts, nuts, chocolate or dried fruit.
- Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti: With cocoa powder in the dough, my favourite variation is stuffed with chocolate chips and hazelnut chunks for a rich bite!
- Lemon Macadamia Biscotti: A beautiful spring/summer biscotti fragranced with lemon zest and filled with macadamias
- Gingerbread Biscotti: A comforting variation for the festive period. Filled with spices, ground ginger and a touch of molasses, this biscotti will make a beautiful gift.
- Pistachio, Pinenut & Honey: With the honey-infused dough filled with pistachios and pine nuts this biscotti is reminiscent of summer-filled days in the Tuscan countryside.
Frequently asked questions
It all boils down to that double bake time. The second round of baking dries out any moisture from the biscotti, giving it that signature crunch. The longer you bake it, the drier and harder it will become. Ultimately it’s down to personal preference.
Also- if you find the biscotti going a bit soft in their airtight storage container, just line them up standing on their ‘bottoms' so that the heat can circulate around the sides. Bake at 150C (300F) for 8-10 minutes or so or until they have crisped up again.
If you are a traditionalist, then classic recipes use oil instead of butter and some even omit this fat. I personally love the addition of butter as it adds slight richness to the dough and a little more moisture to stop them from going super rock hard.
They have a lower volume of sugar and fat per biscuit compared to most cookies. Generally packed full of nuts, they are on the higher end of the scale of ‘better for you’ cookies/biscuits. Are they healthy - I won’t claim that, though!
How to store and freeze
- To store: Biscotti can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- To freeze: Biscotti can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Large Mixing Bowl: No stand mixer is required for this recipe. It's super simple to bring together in one large mixing bowl.
More Almond recipes you may like
If you tried this Italian Biscotti Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Almond Biscotti Recipe
- 130 g whole almonds, skin on
- 150 g granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
- 1 orange, zest
- 220 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 60 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 small egg, for egg wash
- 1 teaspoon milk, for egg wash
- Preheat oven and toast almonds. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Spread the whole almonds onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool then chop coarsely. Keep the oven on. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Release oils from the orange zest. In a large mixing bowl add the sugar and orange zest and using your fingertips, rub the two together for 1 minute.
- Add dry and then wet ingredients and mix. Into the bowl with the sugar, sift in the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt.Make a well in the centre then add the wet ingredients; eggs, butter and almond extract. Using a wooden spoon, work from the middle out to mix the ingredients until just combined.
- Add the almonds and mix them into the dough. Add the chopped almonds and using the spoon or your hands, mix the almonds until combined and then gently knead the dough a couple of times until it comes together. The mixture will feel a little sticky and if you prefer you can refrigerate it at this point for 30-45 minutes to make it easier to handle when shaping.
- Shape dough. Lightly dust a work surface and your hands with flour. Divide the dough into two and using your floured hands, roll each portion into the shape of a log.Place each log onto a baking tray and continue to shape the two halves into a 30cm long x 5cm wide (12-in x 2–in) log. Leave space between the logs, as the dough will spread while baking. Use moistened hands to flatten the tops and smooth the dough.
- Egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Make an egg wash by whisking together the remaining egg and milk in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the logs, and then sprinkle them with the extra teaspoon of granulated sugar.
- Bake and slice. Bake the biscotti for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until firm and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 135°C (275°F). After 10 minutes, using a sharp knife, cut the logs diagonally into 2cm (3⁄4-inch) slices. Place the slices on their sides on the parchment-covered baking tray.
- Bake again. Bake the biscotti for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry and crisp, turning halfway through the baking time. Allow to cool fully. Once cooled, there will still be a little give in the biscotti. If you want very dry, hard biscotti, add another 10 or so minutes to the bake time.
- Optional white chocolate decoration. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the water. Once melted, remove from the heat and dip the end or drizzle chocolate over each biscotti before placing them back onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle finely chopped almonds over the white chocolate. Place the baking sheet into the fridge for 10 minutes to help the white chocolate set.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.