Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a perfectly crunchy, melt in your mouth cookie that is packed with protein, high in fiber and low in sugar? Oh wait, it has arrived! Biscotti are of course originally from Italy, and these oblong almond flavoured confections are generally an acquired texture- you either love or hate these hard cookies. They are so crunchy because they are twice baked, and so need to be dipped into a hot drink to be softened up. Don’t be intimidated by this baking process though- they are simple to make and fun to decorate. They are soon to be a Fall staple in and lovingly prepared gift from your home.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Serves: 14-28 cookies
- 4 Tablespoons of nut oil (coconut, hazelnut, macadamia nut all work well)
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- 2 cup blanched almond flour
- 1 cup ground sunflower seeds (can also be another cup of almond flour or other ground nut/seed or their flours of choice).
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
Chocolate Dip (optional):
- ⅓ cup of raw cacao
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup cacao butter
- Chopped/sliced almonds for topping
The first biscotti cookies were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from the almonds which grew abundantly in the region. They became a popular food for sailors and army men, as they could be stored for long periods without going stale; no moisture means no mould! Not exactly the romanticized vision we have of Itallian’s dunking them in cappuccino at an outdoor cafe. However, their ability to stay crisp for weeks has popularized them as a holiday food, as they could be mailed to family afar and kept on hand for when company stopped by.
This dough starts like most- sugar, flour, eggs and a rising agent- except we have used WILDFIT friendly ingredients so that you can enjoy one without awakening your Sugar Monster or spiking your blood sugar. The almond flour keeps with the tradition of the almond flavour, and coconut sugar helps to create a crispy texture. Although we are using more body supportive ingredients, quantities are still a factor, especially with ground up nuts and seeds. Just one cup of almond flour contains about 90 almonds! Of course stretched over fourteen cookies it is only 12 almonds each, but we still want to think about variety and ensure we are not switching one excess for another.
To this end we have added ground sunflower seeds, or sunflower seed meal, to create more variety in this recipe. Tigernut flour, hazelnut flour and even plantain flour all make good alternatives here. We have also incorporated cassava flour, as it creates a lighter texture and works as a binder to keep these cookies from crumbling. Tapioca flour contains resistant starch, which is important for feeding the good bugs in our guts and it doesn’t contain hard to digest proteins like some nut flours.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. The dough will be sticky, but contains sufficient oil, and adding more to the pan would cause the bottom to burn, rather than brown as it dries in the oven.
To prepare your dough, start by beating the oil and coconut sugar together in a mixing bowl, then adding the eggs and vanilla extract, stirring until well combined. You will want to make sure that your eggs are room temperature, otherwise they will harden the coconut oil, creating chunks in the bowl. Set this bowl aside until the dry ingredients are ready.
Place a fine sieve over a medium bowl, before pouring the almond flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and salt over it into the bowl. As almond flour contains oil, it tends to clump together, and could change the texture of the cookies. We want everything smooth so that they are easier to cut before the final baking. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a spatula to combine well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. It will be quite wet.
Finally, pour in your ground sunflower seeds. I like to soak them for a couple hours to remove the phytic acid. Then I rinse them, dry them with a dish cloth and set them on a tray in the preheating oven to fully dry. You can also buy sunflower seed flour made with soaked and sprouted seeds. In a pinch though, just pour regular raw or roasted sunflower seeds into your food processor and grind until it is a fine meal. Add this meal to your dough and use your spatula to combine it in evenly.
Turn the dough ball out onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into a long rectangle about 4×9 inches and 1 inch tall. Your fingers will stick to the cassava flour, so be sure to use your silicone spatula for this part. Cut pieces of dough from the sides as needed, pile it on top and smooth it out until you have approximately the right dimensions.
Bake your loaf for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden and the center of the log is almost firm. Remove it from the oven and let cool until you can handle it, at least 10 minutes. If you cut them when they are hot the slices will crumble, but if you leave them too long the dough will become too hard and it will be difficult to cut.
Use a sharp knife to cut the logs into biscotti shape. I prefer to cut them straight across, however some prefer a longer shape made by cutting on a diagonal. Either way, cut the loaf by pressing straight down with a very sharp knife. Using a sawing action with a bread knife can tear chunks from the edges of the loaf however might be preferable if you only have a dull knife available. You can decide how thick you want the cookies to be, ½ an inch is the standard. The thinner they are the more cookies you will get and the crunchier they will be. However, the thinner they are the more you risk tearing the slices or having them crumble.
Carefully place the cut biscotti, with one face up, on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 more minutes, then flip over to the other side so that both are golden and dry. After the second bake make sure that the biscotti cools on a wire rack to allow them to crisp up completely. The centers of the cookies will be slightly soft and will crisp as they cool.
Once cooled, you may choose to ice the cookies with the chocolate frosting, then sprinkle on chopped or sliced almonds to decorate. To make the frosting, melt the cacao butter, then stir in the cacao powder and honey. If you can’t find cacao butter you can use coconut oil, however it will melt and get a bit messy at warmer temperatures so you may want to use less chocolate. I prefer to spread it thin on one half of the cookie or drizzle it over top, however if you are in more of a hurry a dunk works too! Get creative and have fun with this step, you’ve earned it.
The biscotti can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months. Enjoy it knowing that you are a supportive food pastry genius, and if they crumble the first time, at least you can enjoy a delicious grain free granola.
I will note here that you can also make this a Mild/Gentle Spring recipe by switching out the cassava flour for ground flax seed and omitting the sugar and chocolate of course to create more of an almond biscuit.
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