I have worked to perfect my own biscotti recipe. (According to this link, Biscotti in the US can be traced back to Christopher Columbus.) My recipe is inspired by the recipes for Biscotti di Prato from Mary Ann Espositoâ€™s book Ciao Italia: Bringing Italy Home and Mark Bittmanâ€™s Biscotti from How to Cook Everything.
The tediousness lies in setting a timer and flipping the cookies to dry them evenly without burning them, and in lowering the temperature for the second phase of the baking. The longer they cook at a lower temperature, they harder and drier they become.
I like mine a medium dryness. I have had some that are so crunchy, I feared theyâ€™d break a filling.
Anise, by the way, is an interesting spice that is in the dill, fennel, cumin and caraway family. In addition to flavoring, it was used in ancient times for medicinal purposes. It tastes like mild licorice, and is a great compliment to coffee or strong tea. Sambuca, an Italian liqueur that is flavored with anise, is often served as a compliment to Tiramisu and other richly flavored desserts. A number of biscotti recipes actually call for Sambuca to strengthen the anise flavor.
Sarahâ€™s Mild Anise Biscotti
# 2 cups all purpose flour
# 1 teaspoon baking powder
# 1/4 teaspoon salt
# 3/4 cup sugar
# 3 eggs
# 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
# 2 teaspoons almond extract
# 1 tablespoon anise seeds, ground (measure before grinding)
# 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix them by hand or on â€œlowâ€ if youâ€™re using a mixer (Thanks again, my love, for my Professional 6 series). The key here is to stop when the dough gets clumpy – do not over mix.
Divide the dough in half, and roll it out into 4â€³ wide x 1/2â€³ thick slabs.
Put the two slabs onto a non-stick OR a greased and floured baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. They should be golden brown and just starting to crack on top.
Remove the biscotti slabs and allow to cool to touch. Cut diagonally in 1/2â€³ slices and arrange them sideways back on the cookie sheets. Lower the oven temp to 250 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn the biscotti onto the opposite side and bake for 15 more minutes. Continue to bake in this fashion until they are as dry as you like.
Store in an airtight container (moisture will make them lose their crunch!) and serve as directed in my blog ;-)
The photo, by the way, is of me enjoying my homemade biscotti along with a nice steamy mug of Stashâ€™sHoliday Chai.
By the way, despite all this talk about anise, I canâ€™t stand straight up licorice or the similar flavor of root beer!