Almond Biscotti and Caffe Di Lusso
In another town. In another state. In another life, or just a life long ago that feels like a dream, I created and owned a coffee shop with my mom. It was called Caffe Di Lusso and it was an experience that changed everything I knew or thought I knew.... in good ways and bad ways. The goodness in it all was that I remodeled a storefront in a historic old building with my family. In the completely empty space we created the most amazingly beautiful Italian cafe. We learned how to make and drink incredible Italian coffee from a company called Caffe Umbria. With music in the background and the smell of fresh ground coffee beans in the air we made coffees, cappuccinos and espressos on a gorgeous shiny Italian espresso machine. We served them in white porcelain cups with vintage Italian spoons, and depending on the drink, with a little pack of sugar or a chocolate...or an almond biscotti :) We made all sorts of fun purchases when we opened, including a tall thin vintage display case, the espresso machine, a big oven and mixer for the kitchen, beautiful lights, Italian ceramics, various vintage Italian decorations(I still have a lot of them) and, my favorite, a new gelato case. I remember the first time I saw it...all wrapped in plastic, just waiting to be opened and filled with flavors. It was such an exciting moment knowing that it was ours and that we would be enjoying gelato.....really really good gelato....every single day(which we did). We had paninis and imported Italian pizzas, drinks and desserts that would bring me back to Italy with every smell, bite and sip. Out of that beautiful new oven came all the goodies for the coffee shop.... scones, coffee cake, muffins, bars, cookies....all the classics. My favorites were always the little Italian cookies and biscotti.....of course! We sold Italian ceramics that were brought in from Florence. We sold art(from local artists) along with Italian espresso cups and antiques. We shared the Italian language and culture through classes taught by a wonderful friend from Puglia. We hosted many events and parties too, and in the process became part of a small downtown community of businesses and people that we would have never become a part of any other way. What an adventure it was. There is so much to tell. So much to share. So many stories. It was a huge part of my life that made me learn a lot about myself as a business owner and as a person and the things that I liked and disliked. It was a life changing time for me. It was precious. It was painful. It made me weak and it made me strong. It gave me memories that will last a lifetime. And it gave me this recipe :)
Almond Biscotti - These biscotti have a nice crunchy(not hard) texture and are really delicious by themselves or dipped in coffee. For the most part I made them with almonds but you could substitute a different kind of nut. I also used to put chocolate chips in place of or with the nuts. During the holidays I would crush up peppermint candies(omit the cinnamon) and put them in place of the nuts. When cooled, you can also dip any of the combinations in white or dark chocolate. The peppermint ones were my favorite like this! So yummy! You can also make them in any size you would like. Just make sure to adjust the baking time:) Enjoy!
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup chopped almonds
Mix for sprinkling
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. In a mixer beat together the oil, sugar, eggs salt and vanilla until combined
2. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
3. With the mixer on low add flour mixture slowly. Mix until combined. It will be very thick.
4. Mix in almonds until combined.
5. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet spread dough out to about a 14" by 5" piece. The dough will be quite sticky. Lightly wet your hands when needed to form and smooth it.
6. In a 350 degree oven bake the biscotti for approx 25 to 30 min or until golden and firm to the touch.
7. When done, take the biscotti out of the oven and immediately cut into approx 1" pieces. Use a big knife with a straight edge.
8. Turn each piece on it's side and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
9. Return to the oven and bake for approx 10 min.
10. Sit. Sip. Dip. Eat.
Buon Appetito! And remember they also go good with wine!
A big thanks to my son for helping me make these cookies and take pictures!