When it came time to choose my selection for the Sweet Melissa Sundays Baking Group, the decision was easy – Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti. Cherries and Almonds are such a great flavor combination, and a favorite of mine. Also, almonds are the only nuts I could sneak into baked goods and still get a positive response from my husband!
Biscotti can seem intimidating, but are really quite easy to make. It’s the whole “twice baked” nature of them that people shy away from, but what’s so hard about baking something twice?!? The oven does all the work, right? I somehow managed to have everything on hand to make these, so it didn’t even require a trip to the store for me! Even easier! I did have to do so some substituting, so my pantry isn’t as well stocked as it seems…The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice to reconstitute the dried cherries, but I only had a lemon. Also, since it required the zest of one lemon as well, I saw no reason to juice one citrus fruit and zest the other. I imagine if the cherries were soaked in orange juice it would lead to a sweeter cherry flavor, but I liked them tart.
The dough comes together relatively quickly, but I don’t think there is enough flour in it. It was really sticky, and remained sticky after chilling for well over an hour, so I dumped another 1/4 cup on top and worked it in. It worked out perfectly.
For the second baking you lower the oven to 275 degrees and bake the cut pieces for 60 minutes. This is what gives them that super crispy texture that even storing in an air tight container doesn’t make soggy. I brought the biscotti up to our cabin for the 4th of July and they were devoured by our friends over the weekend.
Melissa puts this recipe in her “After-School Snack” section but I think these are perfect with coffee. I’ll definitely be making these again, and perhaps will play around with different flavor combination like fig and walnut with orange zest, cherries and pistachios, or even get crazy and add chocolate chips! White chocolate chips and cranberries would be delicious, don’t you think?
Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti
pages 72-73 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book
- 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
BEFORE YOU START
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluaminum foil
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cherries and orange juice and bring to a simmer. Remove from teh heat, cover, and let the cherries reconstitute.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, zest, and salt until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Drain the cherries, discarding the juice. Stir the cherries and almonds into the dough.
- Turn the dough out onto the prepared cookie sheet, flatten, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half. Using a little extra flour if the dough is sticky, roll each half into a log about 14 inches long.
- Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the cookie sheet with clean parchment paper.
- Place the logs about 4 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the logs are lightly golden and slightly firm. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Turn down the oven to 275 degrees.
- As soon as the logs are cool enough to handle but still warm, about 10 minutes, carefully peel them off the paper and transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, gently score the logs at 3/4-inch intervals on a 45-degree angle. After scoring, cut through each scored line in one motion with a sharp chef’s knife, slicing the logs into pieces.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to a freshly lined cookie sheet browned side down and not touching one another. Bake for an additional 60 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet after 30 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool on the pan to room temperature.
The biscotti will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 1 week (assuming they last that long). For longer storage, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.