Biscotti

Like many households, the Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day holiday season at our house was a special time each year, complete with its own set of dishes and treats. These biscotti fit into that group, although I don’t know why. It’s not as if they’re festive-looking, like sugar cookies decorated to look like Santa or Christmas trees. Nor are they part of some widely accepted food tradition, such as eggnog at Christmas or turkey on Thanksgiving. Yet, the first of these biscotti would quietly make their appearance in our homes sometime around Thanksgiving and, come January, they would leave just as quietly. To this very day, Zia gives each of us some biscotti sometime during the holidays — and it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

These two recipes came to the family via different paths. The first, Mom’s Pecan Biscotti, was given to her when I was a boy by a friend of the family who was, at the time, 90 years young. Our two families had ties that could be traced back to San Marino. The second recipe, Zia’s Anise-Flavored Biscotti, has been a part of Zia’s repertoire ever since she found the recipe in a Detroit News article some 50 years ago. Each year before the holidays, Mom and Zia would set aside one day for baking biscotti.  Mom would make the biscotti with pecans and Zia the anise-flavored. At day’s end, each would take half of  her biscotti and trade it for half of her sister’s. Generally speaking, we kids loved dipping the pecan biscotti into our milk, while the adults preferred to enjoy their anise-flavored biscotti with coffee after dinner. Should you decide to make both recipes at the same time, be sure to store the 2 kinds of biscotti separately. When stored together, it isn’t long before the pecan biscotti begin to take on the scent of anise.

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Mom’s Biscotti with Pecans Recipe

cook time: approx.  1 hour total

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 lb.  powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 lb. butter, softened
  • 2 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 9 cups of flour, sifted
  • Grated lemon rind from at least 2 lemons
  • Whole pecans (walnuts may be substituted)

Directions

  1. At medium speed, beat sugar and butter together until very light. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating until well-blended. At low-speed, add the lemon rind and baking soda. Gradually add the flour and mix well. The resultant dough will be pretty stiff.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each into a rectangular shape, about 12 inches long. Line the center of each with the pecans and roll to form loaves that are about 11 inches long by 5 inches wide. Do not over-load with pecans because the loaves will crumble when you slice them later.
  3. Place the loaves on greased, floured baking sheets and bake in a pre-heated 350* oven for 30 minutes. Slice them while warm; they’ll crumble if you wait too long.

If you prefer to have them toasted, remove them from the oven after they have become a pale golden brown — usually in 15 – 20 minutes. Slice them, place them on their side, and return them to the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Turn them over midway through the cooking time.

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Zia’s Anise-Flavored Biscotti Recipe

Note: Anise is a licorice-tasting herb common to the Mediterranean area.

cook time: approx.  1 hour total

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of flour, sifted
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt100_2314
  • 1 small bottle anise extract (approx. 2 tbsp)

Directions

  1. Sift flour, baking soda and powder together.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, beat butter with sugar on medium speed till creamy. Add eggs one at a time. When finished, add the anise flavoring.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture and beat at low-speed till well-blended. If the dough feels too stiff, add an extra dab of butter.
  4. Divide mixture in half and then half again. Form a loaf from each quarter and place 2 loaves on each baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 350* oven for 30 minutes. Slice them while warm; they’ll crumble if you wait too long.

If you prefer to have them toasted, remove them from the oven after they have become a pale golden brown — usually in 15 – 20 minutes. Slice them, place them on their side, and return them to the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Turn them over midway through the cooking time.

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10 thoughts on “Biscotti

  1. Pingback: Turkey Risotto | from the Bartolini kitchens

  2. John,
    What GREAT GREAT family recipes. Better than turkey for Thanksgiving or egg nog at Christams. These recipes hold history – memories – and lots of love. Plus, they look amazing. I could really use a biscotti right now.
    Have a great holiday,
    Shanna

    Like

  3. I love biscotti with coffee. I have not made them before but will try your family recipes. Thank you for sharing them. Merry Christmas John. Sue
    Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

    Like

    • Hi, Ayesha! Both recipes are easy and I’m glad you like them. A word of caution, though. The anise flavored ones are fragrant and will perfume any biscotti stored with them. Mom always stored them separately from all other cookies and biscotti.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Crostata | from the Bartolini kitchens

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