Cantuccini alla Mandorla

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Sometimes a cup of coffee is simply not enough. Sometimes a cup of coffee needs a biscotti . . .

If I know one thing about good biscotti, it’s that they’re noisy little confections. That’s because they’re twice baked, resulting in a crunchy, firm, perfectly dunkable cookie.

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The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: The dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again.

The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds, which were abundant in the region.

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Because the second baking drew moisture out of the biscuit, it rendered the biscotti hard, sturdy and, importantly, resistant to mold. Consequently, biscotti turned out to be the ideal food to store. They soon became a favored provision of sailors, including Cristóbal Colón (Cristoforo Colombo), who traveled at sea for months at a time with the crunchy cargo. . . Well, all that sounds good.

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I just love them because because of the crunchy texture and amazing almond flavor. And when you dip one of this delicious biscuits in your latte…Ummm…Just like having a bite of heaven.

Now, the secret to bake a perfect biscotti, is in the cooking and the exact time when we will cut the cookies in their traditional diagonal shape.

::Almond Biscotti::

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour (I always use Whole Wheat Flour), cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: If you want variations, you can use pistachios and/or dried cranberries instead of almonds; you can also melt 18 ounces of white chocolate and dip half the biscotti on it; or use unsweetened cocoa and hazelnuts for a different look!

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