My bible for cookies, the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, has a dynamite recipe for true Italian biscotti. This cookie is not meant to be eaten plain, unless you are a baby who likes to gum her food. But Italian biscotti are simply sensational with coffee; the hot liquid immediately softens the biscuit while bringing out the subtle flavors (especially delicious when those flavors include hazelnut, chocolate, almond, or vanilla).
Since I had a big jar of anise leftover from a Mexican baking adventure (brush a flour tortilla with melted butter, sprinkle on cinnamon, sugar, and anise, bake for about 10 minutes, cut into triangles, and enjoy with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream), I decided to make King Arthur's "classic" biscotti, almond and anise. It has subtle licorice flavor that's pleasant but not too intense. Nice to serve if you have Italian neighbors or an Italian mother-in-law you want to impress.
For extra interest, throw in a cup of chopped toasted almonds with the flour.
Classic Italian Biscotti
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp aniseed
2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until creamy looking; the mixture will be light-colored and thick as pancake batter. Lower the mixer speed and add the flour and anise seed, beating gently just until it's totally incorporated. Add the almonds now if you're using them.
- Transfer the dough the baking sheet and shape into a log about 14 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and .75 inches thick. Using a dough scraper or wet hands helps.
- Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit until cool to the touch, 5-25 minutes. About 5 minutes before cutting the cookie log, spritz it with water or pat it with wet hands - this will make the cutting easier.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325. Cut the biscotti into 1/2 inch slices, cutting an an angle across the cookie log. Make sure to slice straight up and down or the biscotti will topple over in the oven.
- Set the sliced biscotti upright on the baking sheet. Bake for another 25 minutes, then cool on a rack. The finished cookies can be stored up to two weeks in an air-tight container. Remember to enjoy them with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate!