Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Biscotti Anytime

Biscotti are my favorite cookies to bake. These Italian twice-baked cookies are as versatile as they are easy to make. They go perfectly with a cup of cappucino for breakfast or a mid-morning snack. They are a tasty complement to afternoon coffee, and they are perfect with dessert.

Many years back, when my son was young and we were experiencing a long snowy winter, I began my search for the perfect biscotti recipe. Through trial and error--and eating a lot of cookies--I came upon what I believe to be the perfect formula for me.

During my research I found  that most recipes I tried had about the same amounts of flour and sugar. But what seemed to vary the most was the amount of fat. The amount or lack of fat in a recipe seemed to considerably affect the texture, taste and the shelf life of the biscotti. Shelf-life was not something I needed to worry about because having an adolescent boy and his friends in the house rendered that concern moot. Of course, there are many traditional recipes for biscotti that do not use any fat. But the possibility of cracking a tooth on a too hard cookie did not appeal to me.

So I started to experiment. The amount of flour, sugar, baking powder and salt were pretty much a constant. I always used eggs but varied the amount of unsalted butter I used until the recipe produced a crisp but tender crumb. I have even made biscotti with olive oil with success; and with agave nectar with a little less success.
One of the fun things about making biscotti is that the variations and flavors are endless.  By changing a few ingredients--type of nuts, dried fruits, extracts, citrus zests, spices-- you can make an infinite variety of cookies. Don't be afraid to try savory ingredients, too. The biscotti take well to spicy and cheesy. And like making a risotto, once you learn the process, the sky's the limit.

The basic formula that continues to work for me for most of my recipes is 2 cups of flour, 3/4 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 6 tablespoons unsalted butter.

After the dough is made and patted into logs, it goes into the oven for its first baking.

After approximately 30 minutes, the dough is removed from the oven and cooled on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes.

 The logs are cut on the diagonal with a sharp knife and returned to the oven for 10-15 minutes for the second baking to ensure crispness.

Cool biscotti completely on racks before storing.

 Why not try a batch of these delicious twice-baked cookies. You are sure to love them.

Spicy Orange Walnut Biscotti

Adapted from a recipe by EvanKleiman @kcrwevan

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons citrus zest of your choice
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and citrus zest.

 Blend in the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed, then stir in the nuts and mix until the dough just comes together. Do not over mix.

Halve dough, and with floured hands, form dough into two 12 inch by 2 inch logs.This dough is a bit sticky, so you may want to wet your hands instead of flouring them. Place logs about 3 inches apart on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.  Place sheet on rack in middle of oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until firm to touch.

Remove from oven and let logs cool on baking sheet for 10-15 minutes. Slice each log slightly on the diagonal into approximately 12  3/4 inch pieces.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and return to oven for 10-15 minutes turning over once.

 Cool completely before storing in an airtight container or in the freezer.

It is easy to grab as few or as many as you need, and they are ready to eat by the time the coffee is poured.  Makes about 2 dozen.

Note: I have edited the original post for updating and clarity 2/6/2016


  1. I love biscotti as well. That and a nice cappucino and I'll be all set.

  2. I keep meaning to try my hand at biscotti. Reading your post has convinced me it must be soon.

  3. Tracy--With our snowy winter cappucino sounds just right.

    Kath--Do try them; you'll be glad you did.

  4. Just a quick question - do you keep them uncooked or cooked in the freezer?

  5. I bake them off, cool completely, then keep them in zip top bags in the freezer to enjoy. But they don't last long around here.