I have a little handwritten cookbook where I jot down recipes and details of tasty meals and if you were to flip through this little book you’d find that a contender for the most dog-eared page is the one that contains this biscotti recipe. I got the recipe from Tim’s grandmother who got it from her friend Ann, which means it has the “Italian nonna seal of approval” squared. I’ve made this recipe dozens and dozens of times and it has never failed to deliver perfect, dunkable biscotti which are wonderfully crisp but not so hard that you worry about breaking any teeth. They are great for little teethers, for grown up kids and especially for avid, obsessed coffee drinkers like myself. I love the classic anise flavor and never feel too compelled to experiment much beyond that, but it’s one of those recipes that can be a great canvas for improvisation which makes it a nice baking project for kids. Lend a hand with putting the basic dough together and then stand back and let the kids come up with their own creative (and hopefully delicious) dried fruit, nut and spice combinations…. I’m just guessing here, but I have a hunch Miss Ria’s biscotti concept would include a generous scattering of chocolate chips!
Another reason why this recipe is a favorite is that you can stop halfway through — fully baking only the cookies you want to eat right away and stashing the rest of your “semi-baked” beauties in freezer for another day. Having a bag of these “almost baked biscotti” on hand means a special homemade treat in minutes and is especially handy when friends pop by or the inevitable snack attack hits and nothing but a cookie will do.
Ann’s Biscotti (makes approximately 4 dozen small biscotti)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
1. Mix wet ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 tsp anise seed (or substitute your favorite spices, seeds, lemon zest, etc.)
- optional: 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur or extract (I often use whiskey)
2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients:
- 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- optional: 1 cup dried fruit and/or toasted chopped nuts
3. Mix wet and dry ingredients, kneading for 1-2 minutes until dough comes together. The dough should be shiny and tacky like masking tape, but not sticky. Dust hands and kneading surface with flour as necessary.
4. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log about 10-12 inches long (NOTE: the wider the log is across, the longer your cookies will be). Place both logs side by side on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet and flatten each log slightly.
5. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. The top of each log will be a light golden color and cracked here and there. Let the logs cool for 20-30 minutes until they are cool enough to slice. I like to cut my biscotti into slices no thicker than 1/2″ using a serrated bread knife.
[At this point, after the cookies have been baked once and sliced, you can continue with the second bake or let the cookie slices cool completely and store in your freezer until you are ready to finish baking them. Bake them right from the freezer, no need to thaw them first.]
6. Spread the sliced cookies out on the cookie sheet (cut sides down). Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. The cookies are done when they are a light to medium golden color and have a dry appearance . If they need to continue baking after the initial 20 minutes, make sure to turn the cookie sheet and check them every five minutes. If your cookies seem to be getting too brown before they dry, turn your oven down to 300 and continue baking.
Store cookies in a well sealed container for up to 2 weeks.