I love the tradition in Italy honoring St. Joseph as patron saint of families/dads with a celebratory feast. Although the feast is held in March on St. Joseph’s feast day, it’s appropriate to recall this story on Father’s Day to honor our own dads.
There’s a legend surrounding this feast day, and according to legend, there was a famine in Sicily hundreds of years ago. The people prayed to St. Joseph and asked his help. He came to their aid, ended the famine, and, in thanksgiving, they held a special feast with a special altar honoring him. this feast is still held today. Celebratory food is served, and one of the ingredients used in the desserts are almonds. The almond tree is a sacred symbol and this biscotti is a perfect dessert for the Dads in your life. Oh, and one more thing, it happens to be my latest fave.
ALMOND ORANGE BISCOTTI
You can make these sans the orange extract and zest. Just increase the almond extract to 3/4 teaspoon and add add 1 teaspoon vanilla along with the almond extract.
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour – I use King Arthur
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Canola oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Zest of one good sized orange
Preheat oven to 350 and spray cookie sheets. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nuts together. Set aside. Mix eggs, oil, extracts and orange zest together. Mix with flour mixture until a dough has formed – either by hand, gently, or in mixer on low. Divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into two flat bottom cylinders, 1” high, 2-1/2” wide and 8” long. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes until lightly colored on top. Remove and cool slightly. Cut cylinders diagonally into 3/4” slices. Put back on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake about 12-14 minutes more, until sides are golden and biscotti has dried a bit. Don’t overbake. You want the biscotti to be crunchy, but not hard as a rock. Remove and cool. Makes about 2 dozen.
Tip from Rita’s kitchen: Gilding the lily – after you shape the 2 cylinders, sprinkle with more chopped almonds and a bit of natural/Demerara sugar (they have larger crystals and are golden in color). Gently pat the nuts and sugar down with your hand so they stick to the dough.