Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nice and Naughty Biscotti Recipe

Santa would love these!
Last week I got a craving for dessert at 11pm. Had I been in North Carolina, I could have just run to the nearest Harris Teeter to pick up the butter I was missing to bake dessert.

In Italy, most grocery stores are only open till 9pm max (with the exception of a few of the new mini markets in the historic center, love them!!!).

Since I live out of the center there was no chance of a late night butter run, so I Googled for a butterless biscotti recipe and found this one using espresso. It wasn't bad, but didn't do the trick.

Convinced that butterless biscotti could be better, last night I searched further for butterless biscotti recipes. I found one with chocolate, which had been my original goal. The recipe calls for hazelnuts, which would be great, but I didn't have them in the house.

I decided to play around a bit and use almonds and chunks of dried apricots.

It is important to note that these are quite different than traditional Cantuccini di Prato. They are a fun hybrid from the two places my taste buds have inhabited: America and Tuscany.

These chocolate biscotti are rich and chewy with a crunchy outer shell. They are essentially a cross between a Cantuccino di Prato and a Chocolate Brownie. You'd never imagine that they lack butter. I managed to pull off a cookie-brownie combo, all without butter!!!

Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year???

Babbo Natale on his Vespa!

Leave these out for Santa!
So, even though I've created what some Italians would consider an Americanata*, I stand by these biscotti. I had them with hot tea this morning, but plan to try them with a dessert wine as soon as possible. Cantuccini di Prato are traditionally served with Vin Santo, not dipped in coffee or tea (though that has become a secondary and acceptable use for them).

Since my Nice and Naughty Biscotti have chocolate, almonds and apricots, I am pretty sure they'll go well with a red dessert wine, like a Sagrantino Passito di Montefalco. (If you haven't tried a Sagrantino Passito, please do. It is sublime. See description at bottom of blog).



  • 2 eggs
  • + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200 grams of cane sugar
  • 200 grams of self-rising flour
  • 70 grams of bitter cocoa powder 
  • 50 grams of whole almonds
  • 10 chopped dried apricots

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
  • Mix 2 whole eggs plus an egg yolk and sugar with beaters
  • In another bowl, mix flour, salt and cocoa
  • Fold dry ingredients into the sugar and egg batter on low speed with beaters
  • Stir in almonds and chopped dried apricots

Chill about 30 minutes in fridge.

  • On a lightly floured surface, and with floured hands, roll the dough into three logs.
  • Place the logs on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper, and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  • Lower temperature, and bake at 300 (150 C) for another 10-15 minutes.
  • If they are moist/runny, put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

These little guys are crumbly and sticky but it will be worth it!
  • Slice the logs into biscotti. It will be sticky, but don't worry if they're uneven or crumbly. They are going to be delicious. 
  • Once you've pulled off the slicing, place them back in the oven spread them out on the cookie sheet.
  • Go ahead and eat one! They are fantastic half-baked. 
  • Turn oven off and allow the biscotti to harden as the oven cools down. Enjoy your biscotti with a glass of dessert wine after dinner.

Makes about 3 dozen (I ate several before I thought to count them, so who knows!)


An Americanata* (noun) basically any edible concoction that is heavy-handed on flavors, ingredients and combinations therein. (Verb) Fare una americanata: Italians also often use this term when someone does something odd with food, like drinking a cappuccino after a steak dinner, or worse, with dinner! Americanate are not limited to Americans. Anyone can commit an Americanata, even Italians.

Biscotto is the general word for cookies (or biscuits if you speak British English). Biscotti is the plural form of biscotto. 
What we generally refer to as biscotti are called Cantuccini di Prato or Biscotti di Prato, and are served with Vin Santo as a dessert. 

Vino Passito: wine made by hanging or laying grapes out to dry partially before making them into wine. 

Both Vin Santo and Sagrantino Passito are dessert wines made in the Passito fashion. 

Amarone is a fantastic vino da pasto, wine to serve with food, and is made using the same process of drying the grapes, only for less time.

Other forms of dessert wines include ice wine, eiswein, using late harvest grapes that have frozen on the vine, which also pair well with desserts,
and wines made by using a special friendly mold called Botrytis cinerea, referred to as porriture nobile. These are great with cheeses.


  1. Sounds interesting, I'm going to have to try it, even though I'm skeptical! - Michele

  2. Michele,

    They are addictive. I had to give them away or else I was popping these things like candy!