long, tall apricot almond biscotti

Our friend Alan Roberts may have come to baking later in life, but his enthusiasm has made up for any late start. He is now the official “bringer of desserts” for every gathering of his large extended family. Alan’s most recent creation is a crisp biscotti that is studded with dried apricots and whole almonds. For this long biscotti, he slices logs of partially baked dough lengthwise into long strips, then bakes them again at a low temperature to make them crisp. Alan notes that it is easy to cut through the whole nuts as long as the cookie logs are still warm.

Walnuts and pecans can substitute for the almonds, and dried cranberries, raisins, or date pieces can substitute for the apricots. Biscotti make great dunking cookies with tea or coffee.

makes 12 cookies cookie making 20 minutes cookie baking 350 degrees, for about 20 minutes; 300 degrees, for about 30 minutes

1 cup (about 5 ounces) whole unblanched (with skins) almonds

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch or smaller pieces

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

1/3 cup whole milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup (4 ounces) dried apricots, cut into small pieces

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar until blended and any lumps of brown sugar disappear. Using the fork or your fingertips, mix in the butter pieces until small crumbs no larger than ½ inch in size form.

In a small bowl, use the fork to beat the egg, milk, vanilla, and almond extract to blend them together and break up the yolk. Stir the liquids into the crumb mixture, then use your fingertips to form a smooth dough. Using a large spoon or your fingertips, mix in the almonds.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, pat one portion of dough into a 7-inch square. With the side of your hand, press an indentation about 2 inches wide down the center of the dough. Spread half of the apricot pieces in the indentation. Fold the sides of the dough over to the center to enclose the apricots. Slide a large metal spatula under the log of dough to loosen it from the surface and then slide it onto the prepared baking sheet. Press down on the dough log to shape it into an 8-by-6-inch rectangle. Repeat with the remaining portion of dough; the shaped logs should be 2 inches apart on the sheet. Brush the tops lightly with the egg wash.

Bake until the edges brown and the tops feel firm and turn golden, about 20 minutes. Cool the partially baked cookie logs on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Using a wide metal spatula, slide each log onto a cutting board. Use a large sharp knife to cut each log lengthwise into six 1-inch-wide slices. Line the baking sheet with clean parchment paper. Using a spatula to help move them, carefully return the cookie slices to the baking sheet, placing them 1 inch apart.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cool the biscotti for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

The biscotti can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week.