Friday, June 26, 2009

Cardamom Almond Biscotti

High up on my list of things I'll miss most about Ithaca are the Jane Austen tea parties Eisha and I have been hosting since last summer. It started with a screening of Pride and Prejudice with an incredible spread of tea, scones, marmalade, cheese, crackers and madelines, and from then on we were hooked. Accompanied by an always-changing assortment of people and ever-evolving spread of food, we plowed through the fabulous 2008 BBC Sense and Sensibility, hit a definite low with Mansfield Park (really, don't bother with that one), thoroughly enjoyed the 2007 Masterpiece Theatre version of Persuasion and, most recently, undertook a double screening of Emma and Clueless in a single afternoon.

In the past, I've contributed madelines, rice pudding, scones, and more scones to our tea parties, but this week I went for something different - biscotti - because I've been dying to try a new recipe since that awesome hazelnut chocolate batch. I needed something a bit more subdued, though, to pair with tea rather than coffee, and in the midst of packing I came upon a Martha Stewart Living from last July. Lo and behold, in the back there was a recipe for Cardamom Biscotti. Perfect.

What follows is my version of this recipe. I haven't changed much about the ingredients (I did go with toasted amonds rather than blanced), but the instructions were pretty hard to follow, so I've clarified them here. Personally, I think anyone should be able to bake, not just people with the experience to know that "mix flour into wet ingredients" means to replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, then add flour a little bit at a time. Come on, Martha. You're better than that.

Cardamom Almond Biscotti (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 3/4 ounces toasted almonds, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white, for wash
  • 2 tablespoons sanding sugar


  1. Put rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Pulse toasted almonds in a food processor until chopped fine. Whisk the following into the flour mixture: almonds, cardamom, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and vanilla until foamy. Make a small indent in the middle of the flour mixture, then pour in eggs and vanilla. Mix with hands or wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated, and a soft dough has formed.
  5. Lightly flour work surface, and transfer dough to it.
  6. Using as little flour as is necessary, roll dough into an oblong log. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silpat. Flatten the log out by gently pressing on the top with the heel of your hand.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the log is just the slightest bit golden and lightly cracked, then remove from oven.
  8. Lightly beat egg white and brush onto biscotti. Sprinkle log with sanding sugar, and place back in oven for 15 minutes.
  9. When log is golden brown and slightly hard to the touch, remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer biscotti log to a cutting board, and cut into it at an angle using a sharp, serrated knife. The slices should be approximately an inch thick.
  11. Put a wire rack onto the baking sheet and arrange slices, flat side down, on the rack. Bake until crisp and devoid of moisture, 15-20 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool. Enjoy with tea.
Even though this recipe will always remind me of Ithaca, it's also very connected to our future plans. Justin and I are moving to his hometown of Modesto, California in a few weeks, where we'll be very near to his parents, who live and work on an almond farm. And Modesto is known for its huge Portuguese population, including Justin's family, all of whom use cardamom in copious amounts when cooking. I'm interested to see how our cooking and baking will change, once we get there.


tastestopping said...

You tell Martha! I wonder whether they're being vague on purpose at that publication, or catering to the confines of a word limit. Either way, thanks to you for illuminating the recipe!


justin said...

Man, who are we going to do tea parties with when we move?! This is an impossible scenario, we just have to bring our friends with us.

danazia said...

Another Dana that is a foodie! Gotta love that! I absolutely love cardamon and I absolutely love biscotti so this recipe is for me! BTW, lovely pictures. I particularly love the one with your hand sweeping through the flour. Come over for a visit!

eisha said...

Those were so crazy delicious I couldn't believe it. And I'm not usually that big a biscotti fan.

More importantly, who am I going to have tea parties with when you move away? Can we figure out a way to do it virtually?

Justine said...

I love cardamom- this sound great, thanks!

Dana said...

Thank you for the compliments about the pictures, other-Dana. And Eisha, maybe we can have virtual tea parties! We can make a date to put in a Jane Austen movie at the same time in our respective states, and then discuss afterwards.

Justine, you should definitely try the biscotti recipe. They were unbelievable with tea.

Yesica N. Cook said...

These look fabulous - and what a very fancy and appropriate teacup! Good luck with your move. Would love to learn some Portuguese cooking from you guys - have only attempted it once, salt cod, a very very very bad idea for a beginner. (My hubby's family's Portuguese too.)

Dana said...

We'll definitely be thinking more about Portuguese cooking when we move to Modesto - stay on the lookout for recipes and such!

And I totally should have mentioned in the post that I was serving my Martha's-recipe biscotti with tea in a Martha Stewart china teacup. Good catch!

picklepuss said...

Instead of forming the log on the floured surface first, I formed it directly on the parchment paper.

These are excellent. Thanks for posting.