These cookies owe their lives to the death of my car, the birth of baby F., and to my father's continued generosity. To the death of my car because had it not died I would have done the milk bottle toing and froing to the farm myself and not relied on my father to do the same. To baby F. because had he not been there to visit I wouldn't have starting baking early this morning in order not to show up at H.'s empty-handed. And to my father's generosity firstly for doing the toing and froing and secondly for secretly leaving Franco Galli's Il Fornaio Baking Book on my table while I was busy decanting the milk. A lucky set of circumstances leading to a most delicious batch of biscotti.
adapted from The Il Fornaio Baking Book
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 heaping Tbs. anise seeds
- 1 1/2 cups sliced raw almonds
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. anise extract, if you have it (I didn't)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, anise seeds, and sliced almonds.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition then beat in the extract(s). Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture a third at a time, again beating after each addition. Continue beating until a smooth dough forms.
- Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide in four and roll each portion into a log about a foot long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place logs on baking sheets and gently flatten them until they are only about 1/2 inch thick. Leave a few inches between each log to allow for spreading.
- Bake about 18 minutes, placing the bottom baking sheet on the higher rack and vice versa half way through, until logs are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow logs to cool on the baking sheets until they can be handled, about 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
- Transfer logs to a cutting board and, using a bread knife, cut them diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange the slices on baking sheets with a cut side down and return to oven. Bake until the edges are golden, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool completely before serving. Store in airtight containers up to 2 weeks.
Franco says to dip them in sweet wine, but tea or coffee will do for me.
Why are they most delicious? Because they have a crunch and stand up to dipping, but they don't break your teeth. Because they're delicately anise flavored (being short ingredients can so often be a blessing). Because the almonds give them that inimitable nutty texture and flavor. Because they're small enough to have two without feeling a single pang of guilt.