Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Old Fashioned Italian Biscotti

If you like the flavour of anise (rhymes with amiss), these old-fashioned Italian biscotti will surely delight you. They are popular at Easter, Christmas, traditional Italian weddings or anytime.

Biscotti means “twice cooked” and so these anise cookies are. The double baking gives them a characteristic dryness, which is excellent for flavour and dunking too. They keep well baked this way, in case you should want to send some to a loved one far away.

Many people today take shortcuts to the original recipe by using anise extract instead of seeds and using the quick drop method instead of the log method. But this old recipe is a little different and I think makes a tremendous cookie, See if you agree.

Recipe from “The Italian Cooking Class Cookbook, Beekman House, NY 1982

Anise Cookies                                          Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies


¾ cup (4 ounces/115g) whole blanched almonds

2 ¼ cups (560ml) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (180ml) sugar

½ cup (125ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (30ml) brandy

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 tablespoon whole anise seeds


Heat oven to 375F (189C)

Put the almonds in baking pan

Bake about 7 minutes or until light brown

Remove to a plate and let cool

Chop the cooled almonds coarsely
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl

In medium mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until fluffy
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Scrape sides of bowl and stir in brandy and lemon peel
Add the flour blend and stir until smooth

Now stir in the almonds and anise seeds

Put the dough in the ice-box and refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour, to get firm

Heat oven again to 375F/190C

Grease 1 large baking sheet

Divide the dough in half

Spoon half the dough in a row, lengthwise, on one side of the sheet

Spread top and sides even with a spatula (or back of a spoon)

Spread to form a 12x2 inch (30x5cm) log, dough will be fairly soft

Pat the surface smooth using lightly floured fingertips

Repeat this procedure with remaining half of dough to form second log

Bake 20-25 minutes or until the logs are a light golden brown

Leave the oven on but remove the baking sheet to a wire rack to let cool

Lower the oven heat to 350F/180C

When logs are completely cooled off, cut diagonally with a serrated knife

Cut into ½ inch (1.5cm) thick diagonal slices

Place the slices flat in a single layer on 2 ungreased baking sheets

Bake 8 minutes then turn over and re-bake 10 minutes longer

Remove cookies to wire rack and cool completely

When cooled, put in tightly covered container, where they will keep for several weeks if they don't get eaten up first.

If you or your children have never had anise cookies, I hope you will bake these soon. This old-fashioned style of baking has a long history behind it. For instance, sailors used to bring hardtack biscuits with them on voyages because they kept well. Anise cookies just plain taste good.


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