Move Over Stella d Oro:  Cherry Almond Biscotti Recipe

Thursday, June 9, 2011

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Until recently, I never understood some people’s fascination with biscotti.   My parents loved them.  I did not.  To me, they were long, thick, rock-hard bricks with a peculiar licorice taste, obnoxiously trying to pass themselves off as cookies.  They didn’t fool me, though.  Whatever they were, I was certain that they were not any kind of  cookies I was interested in.

When I was a kid, every Sunday dinner was finished off with a pot of espresso and a plate of those obnoxious biscotti – always Stella d’Oro brand.    Every self-respecting Italian housewife kept a stash of Stella d’Oro cookies in her pantry, including my mother and my nonna.   You know, in case anyone happened to stop by.    God forbid someone should stop by for coffee and there were no cookies or cake to serve with it!    Tongues would wag for weeks!

As they sipped their espresso, the adults would dunk the biscotti into the thick, dark liquid and eat  them.  Gah! The only thing worse than biting into one of those jaw-breaking biscotti, was biting into one turned to mush by strong black coffee.  To this day, the thought of it makes me cringe. 

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It wasn’t until I began blogging that I realized that all biscotti were not the same.  In fact, homemade biscotti were kind of wonderful.  You can flavor them however you like, and stud them with all kinds of dried fruits and nuts – or even chocolate.  And, instead of being as hard and tough as granite, they could be delightfully crunchy.  The best part is, that biscotti are not hard at all to make at home, so you can have nice, fresh ones whenever you want.  You never have to keep cellophane-wrapped packages of that other kind in your pantry again.

Perhaps, if my mother and grandmother had baked their own biscotti from scratch, I would have discovered their allure at a much earlier age.  Think of all the years I wasted hating them!  Unfortunately, except for certain holiday specialties, neither Mom nor Nonna were much into baking.  Such a shame…

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Since I began baking my own biscotti, I’ve tried several different recipes.  Over time, I’ve taken a pinch from some and a dash from others and come up with a “go to” recipe that I really like.  The basic recipe stays the same, although I switch the various add-ins based on what I have on hand and whatever my whim is that day.  For these, I’ve used toasted almonds and plump dried cherries.  I think think that this is my favorite combination of all.   The cherries add a little chew and a touch of tartness to balance out the sweet.    The texture of the biscotti is light, but super crunchy.  And, there is no danger of chipping a tooth on one!

I like to add a little Fiori di Sicilia to these biscotti as well.  It’s a little difficult to describe, but Fiori di Sicilia is an Italian flavoring that has notes of vanilla and citrus.  Think of an orange creamsicle and you’re on the right track.  It literally means “flowers of Sicily”.   I get mine at King Arthur Flour, but you can simulate the same flavors by mixing 2 parts vanilla extract with one part each of orange and lemon extracts.  It smells heavenly and gives the biscotti a certain special something.

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The key to a biscotti’s signature crunch is that they are baked twice.  The first time, they’re baked in one long log.  Then, they sit and cool off for a while.  After that, they are sliced into bars and baked again until they get all browned and crispy.

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Here they are getting ready for round two.

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Even though I do sometimes serve my biscotti with espresso, I never dunk.  I’m convinced that the reason my parents did is because the ones they had were so damn hard.  These biscotti are toothsome, but with one bite they yield into lovely, crumbly bits of deliciousness.  Move over Stella d’Oro.  There’s a new game in town.

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18 responses to Move Over Stella d Oro:  Cherry Almond Biscotti Recipe

  1. On June 09, 2011 at 3:33pm, Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook said...

    My Mom has been making Biscotti from my Great Grandmothers recipe for years but has lately become adventurous and wanting to experiment with the recipe. I’m emailing her this recipe. Will let you know if she makes it :)

    • On June 10, 2011 at 10:41am, Susan said...

      That’s great, Chris! If she makes them, I’d love to hear about it.

  2. On June 09, 2011 at 3:36pm, Elle said...

    Beautiful! My mom used to buy the Stella d’oro ones, too. Too hard and dry! Yours are a sight to behold, though. I’ve always wanted to make biscotti. I just need to do it.

    • On June 10, 2011 at 10:42am, Susan said...

      Do try it, Elle. They are not difficult at all to make. :)

  3. On June 09, 2011 at 3:48pm, Rosa said...

    Gorgeous cookies with Italian coffee, perfect!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    • On June 10, 2011 at 10:42am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Rosa! :)

  4. On June 09, 2011 at 6:32pm, The Food Hunter said...

    This made me smile…reminded me of my family..always had some sort of cookie on hand in case company just stopped by. I love biscotti and I love experimenting with new flavors. I will try this combo for sure. Need to get my had on some of that Fiori di Sicilia…sounds amazing.

    • On June 10, 2011 at 10:45am, Susan said...

      Hehe! The problem was that sometimes those cookies or cakes sat in the freezer for so long waiting for company, that they became inedible. But, better to have stale cookies than none at all, I guess. ;)

  5. On June 10, 2011 at 10:47am, Eliana said...

    These could not look more delicious! Love them.

  6. On June 10, 2011 at 6:25pm, Foodiewife said...

    Too funny! My mother used to keep the same biscotti on hand, when I was a kid. I didn’t like them either.
    I have Fiori di Sicillia and I love it, too! I used it in a German Quark cheesecake, and it made a huge improvement. Great biscotti recipe. I love biscotti that’s a little crispy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside.

  7. On June 10, 2011 at 8:32pm, Phyllis Kirigin said...

    Hi Susan,
    Your comment about not liking biscotti when you were growing up made me think about all the other foods we didn’t like when we were growing up, but should reconsider. How about Brussels sprouts or spinach? Tapioca pudding, rhubarb? Maybe we just didn’t taste a good version.

    Yes, fiori di Sicilia is wonderful. I use it in Italian cheesecake.

    Great blog! I have linked it on my blog.

  8. On June 10, 2011 at 11:20pm, Ronda said...

    I love homemade biscotti! I make cocoa with chocolate chips….Yum! I can’t wait to try these!
    XO

  9. On June 12, 2011 at 11:37am, Jannett said...

    I have not tried to make biscotti…but these do sound very good. ;o)

  10. On June 15, 2011 at 11:20am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    My mother’s Stella D’Oro delight was Roman Egg Biscuits. They were soft, didn’t have much flavor, and were kinda just piles of sweet starch. I never got the appeal. She dunked them in her tea.

    I’ve never made biscotti, but there are so many good recipes out there that I really should try (starting with this one). I always feel “weird” about all of the flavors out there. It’s just so American! Italians love to stick that anisette flavor in everything!

    You don’t dunk it in your espresso, but would you dunk it in the traditional sweet wine?

  11. On June 17, 2011 at 1:45pm, Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) said...

    I’ve never made biscotti for the same reason, I think it’d be too hard and rock like. This looks delicious though. I really must try some soon :)

  12. On June 30, 2011 at 6:57am, elenale said...

    nice recipe
    i like it
    ==========

  13. On July 01, 2011 at 6:31pm, uaskigyrl said...

    OMG! I was just introduced to your website about 20 minutes ago and am having a blast reading through it. Like you, I never did like biscotti and then I baked my own batch! OH MY did it open my eyes to what a REAL biscotti tastes like. Since then, I have been baking them. I have a favorite Almond chocolate biscotti that i make but I am definitely going to try this one! Thanks!

  14. On August 05, 2011 at 9:18pm, Noelle said...

    I LOVE biscotti! My favorite recipe calls for olive oil, cranberries and pistachios, but I love trying new combos. I will try this one next. Unlike you and I, my kids love biscotti, and with easy recipes like this we can whip them up anytime!
    Thanks for the tip about Fiori dil Sicilia, I put it on my baking list.

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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