I did not love lemon desserts when I was a child. Chocolate was much more my thing. Not surprisingly, my tastes have changed and now I count lemon tarts, cakes, and cookies among my favorites—especially these biscotti. Crisp and buttery, they are layered with bright flavor from lemon juice, zest, and extract. Once cooled, they get an additional shot of lemon with a drizzle of tangy icing.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups/285 g unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup/100 g granulated sugar
1/4 cup/50 g firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
Finely grated zest of 2 organic lemons, plus 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed juice
1 cup/80 g sliced almonds, toasted
8 Tbsp/115 g unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into 1/2-in/12-mm pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 tsp pure lemon extract
1 cup/100 g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
A few drops of half-and-half or milk, as needed
Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly coat an 11-by-17-in/28-by-43-cm rimmed baking sheet with the oil.
Combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the lemon zest and almonds and mix briefly on low to combine. Add the butter in pieces and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks like damp sand. Pour in the eggs, 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice, and 1 tsp of the lemon extract and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a disk. Divide it in half. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll one portion of dough into a rough oval. Place it lengthwise on one half of the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 2 1/2 in/6 cm wide and 12 in/30 cm long. Shape the second piece of dough in the same way, moistening your hands as necessary. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops even.
Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and just set—they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F/165°C.
Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on the diagonal into 3/4-in-/2-cm-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes, until they are crisp. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely.
Place the rack over a rimmed baking sheet or a sheet of wax paper. Arrange the slices upright on the rack. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar with the remaining 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp lemon extract until the icing is smooth and opaque, but still thin enough to fall from the tip of the whisk in a ribbon. If necessary, dribble in a few drops of half-and-half to loosen the icing.
Dip the tip of the whisk or a fork into the icing and drizzle the ribbon of icing back and forth over the biscotti. Let the icing dry completely before serving. The biscotti will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container stored at room temperature.
What to drink: A small glass of Strega, a saffron-tinged herbal liqueur from Italy’s Campania region; or, for something more conventional, a glass of limoncello.
Domenica Marchetti, Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie, Chronicle Books (2015)
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