Being at Nino’s, I’m surrounded with great people, products and ingredients. It’s also very culturally diverse, and I love that. Of course, even though we’re an international marketplace, because of our late founder Nino Salvaggio’s heritage, many people think of us as being a bit more Italian. (I’m not complaining, because by category, Italian food is still THE most popular cuisine in America.)
So it only stands to reason that if you walk our store, you’ll see a fair share of things like rapini, eggplant, garlic, pasta, pasta sauce, polenta, olive oil, Italian cheeses of all sorts and–wait for it now–
Lord knows we DO have our share of biscotti around here. Now, I want to go on record as saying that I like biscotti. It wasn’t my pabulum when I was a kid, but nonetheless, I do enjoy great biscotti now and then with my morning coffee. Like most things, particularly baked goods, everyone has a different recipe. And I don’t know if it’s an Italian thing, but everyone swears his or hers is the best (or the most authentic).
Well, good for them. They can think anything they want; I know mine is the best. That’s just the way it is. Tough cookies! Maybe, however, I should say tough twice-baked cookies since that’s how biscotti got its name (originally from the Latin “biscoctus,” meaning “twice-cooked or baked”).
Biscotti is a cookie dough formed in a long loaf, baked, cooked, sliced and baked a second time for crispness. Traditionally, this dough has nuts (almonds or pine nuts) and other spices (often anise seeds or cinnamon) or dried fruits. Like the hardtack made famous during the American Civil War, its predecessor was of great sustenance for the Roman Army during long journeys, as it didn’t require refrigeration.
Among the many modern variations of this ancient biscuit are size, shape, hardness (depending on how long it’s baked the second time), and finishing touches like chocolate dips and other garnishments. In the end, no matter how it’s made, biscotti is often enjoyed with coffee, tea or even dessert wine.
Maybe best of all, unlike most cookies, the fruits of your labor can be enjoyed for quite some time if you store them in an airtight container. If you’d like to make your own biscotti, it’s really not that hard to do. As a matter of fact, if it turns out hard, you’re doing a pretty good job. So, without further ado, here’s my recipe:
Makes about 4 Dozen Biscotti Cookies
½ CupClarified Butter
1 CupGranulated Sugar
1 eaOrange, Freshly Zested
1 eaLemon, Freshly Zested
1 TBSPAnise seed
3 CupsAll-Purpose Flour
1 TBSPBaking powder
½ tspBaking soda
2 CupsAlmonds, Sliced & Toasted
½ CupPistachios, Chopped Pieces
1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F.
2. Beat together butter, sugar, salt, lemon and orange zest, and anise seed until light.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition.
4. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and nuts.
5. Divide finished dough into three sections.
6. With buttered fingers, shape each portion into a log approximately 1 1/2 inch in diameter and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Repeat with the other two portions, and space logs at least 4 inches apart.
7. Using your palms, flatten each log to a 1-inch thickness.
8. Bake 25 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through the baking.
9. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool.
10. Using a thin, sharp-bladed or serrated knife, cut logs into approximately 1-inch wide cookies, at a 45-degree angle.
11. Place slices, cut side down on a cookie sheet, and re-bake at 275 F an additional 45 minutes or until very dry. Remove cookies from the oven and cool. Cookies may be dipped in chocolate or dusted with powdered sugar.