Determination to use every last peel from a near 30-pound haul of lemons culminated in this limoncello biscotti, a twice-baked lemony cookie for grownup dipping into steaming cups of coffee or tea or a glass of wine.
The bulk of my haul became preserved lemons. But to preserve lemons, in addition to the lemons you stuff into jars, you must juice yet more lemons to top off the jars. So I peeled several of those extra lemons to make limoncello, with the intention to (mostly) bake with it. You can find the full limoncello recipe here.
I repeat this often on here but I’ll say it again: The constraints I have imposed on myself—to use everything and waste nothing—have both improved my dishes and made cooking a much more enjoyable experience. (I also save money.)
Limoncello biscotti recipe notes
To make limoncello, after steeping lemon peels in alcohol for anywhere from several days to a month and then straining those peels out, you add a simple sugar syrup to the infused alcohol. Because I intended to bake with my limoncello and I wanted to taste the lemon in my baking, I made my limoncello quite potent. The more simple syrup you add, the less lemon flavor—and alcohol—the limoncello will contain.
For these, I happened to have an airtight jar filled with pecans that my daughter MK toasted a few weeks ago. Into the dough they went. But don’t feel as though you have to run out to buy pecans to make this recipe. Use what you’ve got (that applies to so much more than biscotti)—hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, or a combination of nuts. I also added a bit of dried nut pulp left over from making nut milk (I often make pumpkin seed milk as well). But don’t worry if you don’t have nut pulp on hand. You can swap in additional flour.
Disconcertingly sticky dough
The dough is shockingly sticky. Remain calm. Use ample flour while pressing and shaping the dough into long rectangles. A bench scraper or other tool (a spatula suffices) will help you transfer the rectangles of sticky dough onto the prepared baking sheets.
If you look closely above, you’ll notice that I rearranged the limoncello biscotti on the cookie sheet. I did this in an attempt to compensate for all the biscotti we ate before I could take a picture. My daughter MK made limoncello bars recently as well. They suffered a similar fate but with nothing remaining for a picture. I guess I’ll have to make more of those. And these.
- 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup dried nut or seed pulp or 3 tablespoons (25 g) whole wheat flour
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped and toasted hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, or a combination of nuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest, lightly packed about two lemons' worth
- 3 large eggs
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons limoncello
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets with a small amount of olive oil or butter.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, dried nut or seed pulp, sugar, baking powder and salt to combine. Stir in the chopped, toasted nuts.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the zest, eggs, olive oil and limoncello. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough is well combined. It will be very sticky.
- Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a generously floured work surface. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough. With your hands, press and shape the dough into a rectangle. Add more flour as you work as needed. Cut the rectangle into three pieces with a bench scraper. Shape each piece into slabs, approximately 12 inches long, 3 inches wide and ½ inch high. Using the bench scraper to help you move the slabs of dough, place two slabs on one prepared baking sheet, and one slab on the other.
- Bake for 25 minutes. The slabs will be brown around the edges and will spring back and not remain indented when you touch them lightly with a finger. Remove from the oven and place the baking trays on a cooling rack. Let them cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.
- One by one, place each biscotti slab onto a clean cutting board and cut diagonally with a serrated knife into ¾-inch thick pieces. Arrange the cut pieces evenly on the two cookie sheets, cut sides down.
- Bake for 10 minutes. The biscotti will brown more and the centers will be firmer and drier. Flip and bake for 10 more minutes. They are finished when firm and golden. If they are still spongy when you press them, bake them 2 minutes longer. Cool on racks and store in glass jars for up to 2 weeks. These also freeze very well and will keep for up to 3 months.