Baking is one of my favorite things. Fortunately I grew up in a household where my mother baked relatively frequently and let me help around here and there. Now, I can safely say that I am the primary baker in the household. As soon as my mother was confident that I could properly use the electric mixer and safely work the oven, I am pretty sure that she retired her title as head baker and passed her oven mitts down to me.
I have another theory as to why I was dubbed head baker. Baking is an enjoyable activity for some people, but it’s also very practical. And my mom, being the practical woman she is, made sure I knew my way around an oven and electric mixer.
As my sisters and I got older, the teacher to child ratio grew exponentially. Instead of having just one or two elementary school teachers, we had 6-8 teachers each. More teachers meant more Christmas gifts, more End-of-the-School-Year gifts, and more money to spend. Well, my mom and I quickly found a solution to this expensive conflict. We decided to bake and package biscotti for all of the teachers and only give additional gifts to the favorite or more frequently seen teachers. (Sorry, but it’s true.)
With a little extra time and a few simple packaging ideas, anyone can turn baked goods into inexpensive yet impressive gifts for family, friends, and teachers.
Now for the recipe, I do not remember its exact origin, but I have been baking these for the past 8 years for teachers and have garnered tips and tricks here and there to make the baking process more efficient and foolproof. (Additional tips are noted with an asterisk *.)
For a print friendly version of the recipe, see the bottom of the post.
Chocolate Almond Biscotti
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate)
1 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons powered sugar (use more or less)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a large baking sheet (or just spray with nonstick cooking spray).
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt (or sift them together).
In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy (should be a pale yellow color).
Add eggs one by one and beat until combined well.
Add vanilla extract after eggs and mix well. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are mixing together thoroughly.
Stir in the flour mixture at a low speed in about 3 batches to form stiff dough.
*Leave about 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture out of the dough at this point.
Mix the remaining flour mixture with your almonds and chocolate chips. (This is to ensure that they distribute evenly in the dough instead of clumping together at the bottom of your mixing bowl.)
Once the chocolate chips and almonds are evenly coated with the flour mixture, hand mix them into your dough mixture. *if using an electric mixer, use a dough hook attachment instead of a paddle attachment to mix in the chocolate and almonds (this is a miracle worker for tired arms).
Working swiftly on a prepared baking sheet, form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each about 12 inches long and 2 ½ inches wide. *Shape the logs so that the edges are slanted in the direction you will cut them later. Sprinkle logs with confectioner’s sugar using a sifter.
Bake logs for 33-35 minutes or until slightly firm to touch and slightly golden brown.
After taking the biscotti out of the oven, gently slide a spatula underneath the logs to make sure they do not stick to the baking sheet. Cool biscotti on baking sheet for 5 minutes (no more than 5 minutes).
Immediately, cut biscotti on a diagonal into about ¾ inch slices.
The diagonal should be comparable to the slant of the biscotti logs. (You can taste test the very ends of the logs.) Arrange the biscotti, cut sides down on the same baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.
Cool biscotti on a rack. Biscotti kept in airtight containers will last one week (frozen for about 1 month, if they last that long).
What you will need:
Clear cellophane bags that come with flexible wire ties
Sticker Labels (optional)
You can do this the night or couple nights before giving the gifts.
If you are using sticker labels, I suggest printing the ingredients on the label underneath a short + sweet message. Place the labels in any way you would like on the cellophane bags keeping in mind the height of the biscotti.
Place about 8 biscotti in a cellophane bag in two rows of 4. Depending on the size of your bags you can fit more or less biscotti; smaller ones tend to fit 6 biscotti.
Twist the bags and secure with the flexible wire ties.
Cover the ties with ribbon of your choosing. You can layer different ribbons, maybe a thinner grosgrain ribbon over a thicker satin ribbon or a sheer ribbon on top of an opaque one. You could even cut up fabric you like, and make your own ribbons.
And voilà! You have homemade gifts ready to go.
I hope that some of you will use this idea to save money and impress teachers, coworkers, and friends. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time!