Quarantine Bake Along: Biscotti

Biscotti is an Italian crunchy cookie often used for dunking in beverages like coffee or dessert wine. The name comes from medieval Latin for “twice-cooked”–the first bake as a log and then sliced and baked again until dry. I often remember seeing Nonni’s biscotti buckets in the grocery store growing up, but was never really fond of them due to how hard they were. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown in appreciation for more crunchy cookies and biscotti is on that list. I had never thought to make them on my own before (why?) but recently discovered this recipe for a more traditional almond and anise biscotti. They’re pretty endlessly customizable to your liking, which is nice during these times of pantry raiding. They also last up to 3 months which is great for when you want some survival cookies.

A Brief Biscotti History

The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds. Due to its second bake, biscotti’s hard, sturdy, and mold-resistent properties made it an ideal favorite to store for travelers. It wasn’t until the 1990s that biscotti became an American favorite and now you can find its many varieties in coffee shops, cafes, and stores.

Biscotti Recipe

  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups, spooned)
  • 4 ounces sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 1/4 ounces nuts, toasted and roughly chopped (about 1 heaping cup)* See Variations
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In the bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, chopped nuts, and other flavorings if desired. Whisk to combine the ingredients thoroughly then add eggs and vanilla; continue to mix just long enough to form a soft dough.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly to bring dough together into a ball, then shape into a roughly 8-inch log. Transfer dough log to a parchment-lined half-sheet pan and continue rolling the log by hand until it is approximately 16 inches long. Gently flatten dough by hand until log is about 4 inches wide and just over 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Bake dough until puffed and firm to the touch and just beginning to brown around the very edges (though still pale overall), about 25 minutes. Cool directly on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and let cool 5 minutes more. While dough is still warm, use a long, thin, and very sharp serrated knife to cut log at a slight angle into about 25 pieces, each just over 1/2 inch wide.
  4. Arrange biscotti, cut sides up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet and continue baking until dry to the touch and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Flip biscotti over and continue baking for another 12 minutes. It’s normal for the timing to vary according to the biscotti’s size and thickness, as well as differences in oven temperature and airflow, so keep a close eye on them and adjust the bake time as needed.
  5. Cool biscotti to room temperature before serving. If desired, dip in chocolate. Biscotti will keep for about 3 months in an airtight container at cool room temperature.

Variations

Substitute chocolate chips or dried fruit in the same volume (one cup). You can also add any citrus zest to flavor the dough (orange, lemon, etc.), about 1 Tablespoon. Traditionally, biscotti has anise seed in it. You can add 2 teaspoons of chopped anise to the mix as well.

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.