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biscotti – two ways

Biscotti are rustically charming Italian twice-baked cookies. Dough is first formed into a long roll and baked, then cut on the diagonal and baked a second time to dry them. They’re a delicious, even politely meant-to-be-dunkable treat. In Italy, biscotti are dunked into coffee and enjoyed for breakfast. In the evenings, after one of their famously-long and leisurely dinners, biscotti might be dipped into wine (especially vin santo.)  In that sense, they’re a sort of chewable, meltable, endlessly-adaptable delivery system for the beverage being enjoyed alongside.  Biscotti have made their way stateside, though some of them are highly sweetened and fancified and bear little resemblance to their Italian ancestor. I’ll offer the more traditional sort here.

What we love about biscotti

they’re positively delicious when, bite-by-bite, they’re softened in coffee

they fall into the “treat” category without being overly sweet

even after weeks (if they last that long) they’re as good as ever

they make someone a sweet little present

they look so cute in a jar

I sent out sample packages of two versions for a vote. The results were close, but the lemon-aniseed version narrowly beat out the orange-walnut among testers. This was a very limited sample so I wouldn’t read much into it if I were you. They’re each good, and each has a following, but my husband and I come down on the side of the Grand Marnier-walnut. With fans in each camp though, I thought it only fair to let you decide for yourselves. (I’d start with the walnut – but you already knew that.) Post a vote if you like! And if you find a way of pairing your biscotti up with a favorite beverage or frozen dessert, I’d love to hear your discoveries.

Grand Marnier Walnut Biscotti

  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (or substitute a brandy or Cognac of your choosing – see NOTE)
  • zest of 1 orange – about 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting your board)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

NOTE: On substitutions for the above recipe – you might also like a Hazelnut Kahlua with toasted, chopped hazelnuts.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Toast the walnuts in a baking pan for 5 minutes. Allow them to cool and coarsely chop them. Reduce oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, incorporating fully before the addition of the next. Add the vanilla extract and the Grand Marnier (or other brandy). In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, orange zest, baking powder and salt. Using a light hand, combine the dry ingredients, along with the nuts, into the wet, taking care not to over-mix as this will result in tougher and chewier biscotti. What you want is something more delicate. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half; roll each into a cylinder about 1½-inches wide and 12-inches long. Place on a baking sheet about 2½-inches apart and bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the cylinders to a cutting board and slice on the diagonal into cookies about ½-inch wide. (Pop the rounded ends into your mouth or the mouth of the one loitering near you as you bake.)

Return cookies to the baking sheet and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the tops are lightly brown. Allow them to cool and store in an airtight container.

Anise & Lemon Biscotti

  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Ouzo (the Greek anise-flavored liqueur)
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting your board)
  • 1 Tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Follow the instructions for the Walnut Biscotti above.

(these recipes were adapted from Paul Bertolli’s Chez Panisse Cooking)

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Beautiful, I love biscotti, so delicious. The perfect accompaniment for coffee. I shall have to make them.

    September 29, 2011
  2. Darlyn #

    Every post yells to me that you are so talented! I love this cookie. It is my favorite in fact. I have texture sensitivities and as a result really don’t like doughy foods. The crunchy walnut, Grand Marnier goodness is the perfect Christmas gift for us. Really!

    September 30, 2011
  3. Oh how tasty those look. (And taste, given my good fortune at having had some of your biscotti before.) I especially love the photo of the biscotti dough on marble, mixing bowl of our childhood in the background.

    October 4, 2011

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