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Saffron Almond Biscotti

based on "Elli's Rusks" from The Savory Way by Deborah Madison, with more butter, added flavorings and dried fruit--a more fragile cookie as a result, tending to crumble even when slicing for the 2nd bake, but quite tasty.  The rice flour adds extra crispy crunch to the finished cookies.

Preheat oven to 325°F.  You will need lightly greased cookie sheets if you do not have parchment or silicone liners.

1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar (you will need an additional 1/3 cup for chopping the fruit)

2 eggs

Mill together:
    generous pinch of saffron threads*
    1 teaspoon mahleb seeds
    500 grams soft wheat
    100 grams short grain brown rice

OR (if you don't mill your own wheat) substitute 31/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour plus 1/2 cup rice flour OR 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
PLUS 1 teaspoon ground mahleb PLUS steep a crumbled pinch of saffron in 2 teaspoons of hot water (add that with the eggs)

1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped toasted almonds or walnuts or your favorite nut

1 cup of a mix of your preference of dried tart cherries, apricots, nectarines, or peaches
1/3 cup sugar

Whisk together the flours, mahleb, salt and soda.

In a food processor, whirl the dried fruit and sugar together until the fruit is very finely chopped.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the eggs and saffron water, if using.

Stir in the flour mixture, nuts, and dried fruit.  Mix until just holding together smoothly.  It should be a stiff dough.

Form the dough into logs, about 1 inch across and as long as your baking sheet is wide.  Bake 40 minutes, then remove from oven and turn the oven temp down to 300°F. 

Transfer each log carefully to a heat-resistant cutting board, and slice 1/2 inch thick.  Return to the oven laying flat for another 15 minutes, remove to a cooling rack, and let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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