I love all types of Italian cookies partially for sentimental reasons because my grandfather’s family is from Sicily and also because they tend to be just sweet enough without overdoing it. Some of my finest childhood memories are of my grandfather coming to visit – he would always have a box from the Italian bakery with the red and white twine around it and all of my favorite treats inside.
In Italy many types of cookies are called Biscotti . The cookies we know as Biscotti in America are actually called Biscotti di Prato, named for the town in Tuscany where they originated in 14th-century. Traditionally they were made from almonds, which were abundant in the region. The biscotti were baked a second time to draw out excess moisture, making the biscotti hard, sturdy and, most importantly, resistant to mold. Biscotti turned out to be the ideal food to store and travel with, making them a favored provision of sailors, including Christopher Columbus.
My favorite biscotti are those that contain nuts and with this recipe the opportunity for variation is endless…you can use any type of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate that you like. Some of my favorite combinations are pistachio with orange zest and dark chocolate, chocolate with dried cherries and pecans, almond with anise.
The only biscotti recipe you will ever need. This recipe has endless varitations and just the right amount of crunch without being too hard.
- 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour or gluten free flour**
- 5 1/4 oz Butter
- 1 2/3 cups Sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract optional
- 1 1/2 cup almonds or nuts of choice
- 1 1/2 cups dark or semi sweet chocolate chunks or chips of choice
- 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried fruit of choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 3 baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract, almond extract and then the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape the bowl down well.
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl.Add-Fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc. until just combined
Add the fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc. and mix until just combined
Shape into 3 logs approx.. 3” wide x 1” tall
Bake for 20 minutes, rotate your pans and bake for about 20 minutes more, until lightly browned and firm to the touch across the top.
Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing.
slice each log into 3/4 inch wide slices and arrange cut side down on cookie sheets. *If you've never had soft biscotti steal a few pieces before they go back in the oven for the second time- it's delicious and kids generally love it at this stage because it's easier to eat.
Bake a second time at 350 for approximately 15 minutes or until just starting to turn golden brown.
*you can use any type of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate that you like. Some of my favorite combinations are pistachio with orange zest and dark chocolate, chocolate with dried cherries and pecans, almonds with anise extract in place of the almond extract and a few tablespoons of toasted anise seeds. Have fun and play around with different flavor combinations!
** I have had great success making these gluten free using both Cup 4 Cup flour and Bob's Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour.
Biscotti will keep for up to a month at room temperature if sealed in an airtight container.