When friends’ birthdays roll around, I like to (whenever possible) ask them to tell me what baked goods they’d like me to make for them as a birthday treat. (I feel stupid using the word “treat” – my personal vocabulary is not at my disposal at the moment. When I use the word “treat” I am transported to a hateful time, elementary school, when there were always a bunch of parent volunteers who came to our classrooms to help out who abused words like “treat” and “permission” and “surprise”. “Treat” is the worst, though. I associate it with the hell of childhood or… training dogs (and giving them treats for their acquiescence), and now that I think about it, rearing a child and training a dog is just about the same in the American public school system.) Okay, so my friends are asked to submit their birthday baked-good requests and I generally comply and deliver.
Last year just before I left Iceland for Norway, one of my dearest friends celebrated her birthday and asked for more of the chocolate biscotti I had made at some point before (perhaps the previous year?). I made an exceptional amount, among other things I made for her just because, and, if I am recalling the right time/event, was meeting her at a café to deliver the goods. When I arrived at the café carrying a LARGE box, the waitstaff assumed I was making a delivery to the café. Haha.
Sometime thereafter the same friend and I went to a café in Reykjavík and noticed the exorbitant price for one biscotti and she exclaimed, “By these standards, do you realize that you gave me hundreds of dollars worth of biscotti?”
Of course all of this was before the big economic collapse in Iceland. I have no idea what the going rate for biscotti is in the beleaguered Icelandic króna. It’s probably pretty cheap for me but more expensive for the locals. I guess I will have to get to work baking more biscotti for my friends in Iceland before my next return trip.
I made some of the infamous chocolate biscotti (sans amandes – I never make it with almonds for some reason… I think because I originally started making it for a friend with nut allergies) tonight, multitasking as usual, to take to work tomorrow. I would like to say it is to celebrate something, even something as mundane and usual as it being Friday… but frankly it is just that I felt like it.
Preheat oven to 350F/175C
2 1/3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cups cocoa
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces (about 14 grams) blanched almonds (if desired)
Mix all ingredients together excluding the almonds. When dough is mixed, add the almonds. Dough will be very thick and sticky. Divide dough in half. Form 2 slightly rounded loaves (12 inches by 4 inches — about 30 cms. by 10 cms.) on parchment-lined cookie sheet (it might be best to use two cookie sheets, as I have found that the dough expands a lot). Dough is sticky — wet hands to handle the dough. Bake loaves for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, cool 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F/160C. Cut logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lay slices on their side on the parchment-covered cookie sheets. Bake 15 minutes more on each side. Cool and store in an airtight container. These are extra crisp; be sure to have plenty of coffee or milk to dip them into.
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