Saturday, 11 January 2014

Ann's biscotti

Certain food I associate with certain people. Chutney, for instance, is my mum's domain. My friend Tammy is famous for her croissants. And my cousin Ann for biscotti. I first had her version of the sweet, dry Italian biscuit on my first trip to the United States, back when I was just twenty-one. When I had an Arts degree with a double major in French, a suitcase full of borrowed winter clothes, and no clue about what direction my life was to take. I didn't know much back then, but I knew I liked those cookies. Previously, the only exposure I'd had to biscotti was the wafer-thin kind found (mostly crushed) in packets in delis where I'd worked. These were the polar opposite - chunky, generous, studded with thick slivers of almond, and perfumed with the aroma of anise seed.

This part of the world with all its mountains and water holds many memories for me. Learning how to make biscotti one rainy winter afternoon - watching hands I know so well make something I love - adds another. I hope sharing the recipe doesn't mean Ann will stop making them for me. I'm priviliged to be on the receiving list at all. It's an exclusive club this biscotti one, comprised of a select few. Some of us with international membership. 

When she bakes them, Ann usually makes a double batch. She's tried tripling the mixture but doesn't recommend it (all works to keep things exclusive). What she does recommend is dunking them in vin santo... or coffee, or tea, as their structure is hardy enough to absorb the liquid without disintegrating into a soggy mess. That's their genius. This cookie doesn't crumble. Not even packed in a suitcase. Lucky me.

Ann's biscotti
Recipe adapted from a Family Circle magazine

These taste best eaten the day after baking, and keep for up to three weeks in an airtight container. 

3 cups unsifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon anise seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups slivered almonds (toasted at 350 deg F, for about 10 minutes - watching carefully)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment (baking) paper.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in anise seeds.

Beat together eggs, egg yolks and vanilla and pour into flour mix. Stir with a fork to form a stiff dough, gathering it all together with your hands to form one big ball, making sure you don't overwork the dough too much.

Divide dough into four. Roll out each quarter into a roll on a floured surface and press into a log shape with flat ends, making sure it's even in diameter throughout.

Bake logs in oven for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave oven on.

Slice rolls diagonally into 1/2 inch thick cookies. Place in one layer, cut side up, on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, flipping over (to cook the other side) halfway through the cooking process. 

Cool on rack.


  1. YUM! I hope Ann packed you some extras for us ;-)

  2. Sorry you two you didn't put in an order & I doubt she'll save you any!!!

  3. Fun to share time, the recipe and the post baking dunking Alice! Come again soon.

  4. What a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon. Excellent looking biscotti too!