Nothing satisfies my ‘inner Italian‘ like a good sweet (dolce). My earliest recollection was when my mother and father would bring home that familiar white square box tied up with red and white twine from the bakery.
There was always that excitement as my sisters and I gathered to untie the string and devour all the sticky sweet treats contained inside. At that time my tastes ran more to the creamy sweet goodness of cannoli; but over time I have more than responded to the crispy crunchy biscotti. In Italian the word ‘biscotto’ means biscuit or cookie. The root word ‘bis’ literally means ‘twice‘ and ‘cotto‘ means ‘baked‘. Twice baked cookies, but biscotti sounds much nicer. Biscotti were first created in Tuscany many centuries ago, but now they are available all over Italy and beyond.
I have tried many recipes over the years, but the one I have settled on is a combination of several; and one I feel produces a great biscotti. When you read the recipes you are always instructed to bake the biscotti a second time, but what no one, and I mean no one, ever tells you is that you must leave the biscotti in the oven to ‘dry‘ for a few hours when you turn off the oven. As my friend, Jeanine has demonstrated, even overnight works. When you awake the next morning and have brewed your cup of espresso, you can just reach into your now cool oven for the crispest biscotti you have ever tasted. And don’t forget, not only is dunking allowed it is encouraged. Here is the recetta (recipe)!
1 cup sugar
6 TBL unsweetened butter at room temperature
1/3 cup anise liquor
zest of one lemon
3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup almonds chopped
2 TBL. anise seeds
Mix sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time till light.
Stir in liquor and zest. In another bowl mix flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and blend. Add almonds to all and mix. Mixture will be wet. Wet hands and shape into two logs. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Cool in refrigerator for 2 hours. Then bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool and cut with serated knife into slices. Bake again cut side down at 275 for 30 minutes.
Turn oven OFF and allow to dry in OVEN for a few hours or OVERNIGHT.