Biscotti is a catchall word that can be used for any cookie. The literal translation is "twice cooked", because some Italian cookies such as these anise cookies are baked first as long, flat loaves, then sliced and baked again. They are a family favorite, traditionally dunked in a glass of Vin Santo, a dessert wine, or in coffee. They were the most requested breakfast food of an Italian student from Reggio Emilia who lived with us one summer.
1 cup unblanched whole almonds
3 1/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour, sifted
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 1/3 tablespoons butter or shortening
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons anise extract
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
Spread the almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast them for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and rub the mixture with your hands until it has the texture of coarse corn meal.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs well with a whisk or electric mixer. Beat in the sugar, then the anise extract. Stir in the flour mixture and mix until a firm dough is formed. Add the almonds and knead into the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. With floured hands, divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 12-x-3-inch rectangular loaf. Place the loaves on the greased cookie sheets and bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch and puffed and light golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
Cut each loaf on the diagonal into 1-inch slices. Place the slices on their sides on the cookie sheets and bake them for about 7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
The cookies will keep in an airtight container for several weeks.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc. in 1991.
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