Growing up I was lucky enough to have been blessed with a few surrogate grandmothers in addition to my biological ones. One of these wonderful women was the mother of my mom's best friend and we would always see her at Christmas time. Her parents had come to the States from Sicily, so she always put out a delicious array of Italian treats for the holiday. She lived to be 101 years old, making cookies until her final year, but before she passed away she handed down her delicious biscotti recipe to my Mom. We make these cookies every year at the holidays, particularly at Christmas and Easter, and they always make me think of her with a smile. —Raindrops on Rhubarb
several dozen cookies--exact number is variable, depending on how thick you slice the loaves
unbleached all purpose flour
pure vanilla extract
roughly chopped walnuts or almonds
butter, melted and cooled
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust the racks so that at least one of them is positioned in the middle third of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a dry mixing bowl whip the eggs and the sugar with a whisk until the mixture turns a lighter yellow color and falls off of the whisk in ribbons--this usually takes me a minute or two of vigorous whipping. Add in the vanilla extract, melted butter and anise extract and stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, quickly combine the flour, baking powder and the pinch of salt. Add this dry ingredients mixture to the wet ingredients bowl and stir together until the dough is completely homogeneous--I find that clean hands can or a rice paddle work especially well for this step, but you can also use a large spoon too.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape each piece into a long loaf that is 2" wide and 1.5-2" high on the lined cookie sheet--having damp hands here is really helpful, as the dough can be pretty sticky.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet in the middle of the baking process. The loaves will expand significantly and turn a light golden color, and should not be doughy in the middle when you take them out.
After removing them from the oven, allow them to cool enough so that they are comfortable to handle. They should not deflate in the center--if they do, that means that they are under-cooked in the center and should go back in the oven for another few minutes. Once they are easy to touch, slice on the diagonal into cookies--the thickness can be anywhere from 1/2" to 1" depending on your preference. Arrange the cookies on baking trays and return to the oven for no more than 10 minutes per side--they really shouldn't color/brown much at all. Alternatively, you can put them into the oven, then immediately turn the oven off and leave the cookies in the oven overnight, or at least until it cools. If you choose this method, it is still wise to flip the cookies over once and check that they aren't browning after the first few minutes.
Stored in airtight containers or ziplock bags, these can last at room temperature for 1-2 weeks (if they aren't eaten way before then), or can be frozen successfully for several months. They are great with a cup of coffee or tea.