08 April 2010

Anise Orange Biscotti

I always try to have a stash of cookies lurking in my assorted cookie tins for that unexpected drop in visitor that makes it seem that we were just waiting for them to visit. Home made cookies always seem to delight everyone, elevating the shared drink from pleasant to memorable.  I often have friends asking me to bring those cookies around again that they had at our house or that I brought round for Christmas, you remember them don't you? Oftentimes I don't as I like to cycle through a variety of cookies and by the time someone is reminding me about them, I am on to the next round of new favorites, or wading through some of the old favorites scribble on the various scraps of paper tucked in to my various notebooks. These anise orange cantucci, if you will, is still one, my neighbors, ask for longingly. Cantucci is what the twice baked cookies that we generically call biscotti in America, are actually called in Italy. They are most well known in Tuscany as basic almond variety that are usually served with  a sweet vin santo (blessed wine) at the end of a meal, for a light ending to a meal. Biscotti to Italians, just means what American s call cookies and the Brits call biscuits. I just call them delicious and think you will as well.

These biscotti are just the right sweet fix you might want to  indulge in after all the Easter excess of chocolate bunnies and eggs.  Simple and satisfying, cut into tiny dippers for your espresso or large batons suitable for dunking in your caffe latte or milky tea and you will probably find they are so irresistible you might need to hide the cookie tin somewhere to make it difficult to polish off the whole batch at one sitting. Flavorful and yet, not too sweet or rich that dunking them into your favorite hot beverage will have you heating up the kettle at all hours of the day and night just to dunk these delicately flavored numbers again and again. I don't go over board on the the anise flavor as I prefer a more subtle note that leaves you tasting the various flavors and not hidden by just one. Do feel free to add more to suit your taste if you will. If you remember to form them into 4 narrow logs instead of two fat ones, you will be rewarded with small bites that fit well in an espresso cup or a platter of various other bites. You could also dip one half in white or dark melted chocolate to up the decadence, but I preferred to have them as their humble self, suitable even for breakfast in the traditional Italian way. What ever way you prefer, I think you'll be adding this to your treasure trove of cookie recipes.

Anise Orange Biscotti
yields about 48  or so small bite size
or about 30 large batons


150g (2/3c) butter, room temperature
325g (1 1/2c) sugar, I used a blond cane sugar, but regular sugar is fine
3 eggs
5g (2 tsp) anise seeds
2 tsp anise extract
12g (2 T) orange zest
pinch salt 
11g (3 tsp) baking powder
630g-650g (4 1/2c) flour, plain/all purpose

Cream butter and sugar together in a medium large mixing bowl.
I use a flat whisk by hand but an electric mixer is fine. Just don't mix too long.
You want it light, but not whipped like a frosting.
Add the eggs and blend well.
Add the anise seeds, orange zest, anise extract, pinch salt and blend.
Add the flour and baking powder.
Stir to form a dough.
Dust your table surface with flour.
Turn the dough onto the table.
Dust your hands with flour and divide dough into 2 or 4 even portions.
Form the portions into long even logs the length of your baking dish.
You can either lightly butter and flour a baking sheet or use baking paper to cover the tray.
Place two logs on each tray.
Pat them to be fairly smooth on top and even widths.
Make another tray the same way so you have two trays and 4 logs.
Bake the logs in a preheated moderate oven 325*  for 20 minutes or so until the logs are a light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly. If you press the top middle log and it seems not cooked all the way through, return then to the oven and continue to cook till completely cooked all the way through.
Remove and cool slightly to be able to handle.
With a serrated knife cut each log on a 45* angle into 1/2" slices. The more angle the longer the finished cookie will be.
When you have them all cut, turn the slices on their side and return to the oven to bake a second time to bake completely through and light golden brown.
Cool before storing or dipping in melted tempered chocolate if desired.

Cooks notes*
Do cut the biscotti while they are warm for the best results. Too cool and they will crumble when you try and cut them if over baked.
Better to under bake the biscotti slightly the first time baking them, so they are easier to cut.
Too under cooked and the center of the cookie will be hard when you bake them the second time.
Still delious, but not ideal.


Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Marla, Hope you had a nice Easter. I love having biscotti in my house, I'm going to have to try these, love the flavor of anise!

Sammy said...


These biscotti sound wonderful,the mixture of orange and anise together means I will be trying these for sure, hopefully this week. Just discovered your blog it's so so interesting, a lovely read thank you, will be popping back!

Bella Baita Marla said...

We had a great Easter thanks Marie...If you love anise, you may even want to increase the amounts slightly. Thanks for stopping in Sammy, welcome...

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