Monday, December 12, 2011


Sometimes I swear I should be Italian. I love the language, the culture, and especially the food. But alas, not a drop of Italian blood in this lady. I am rather homogeneous (Scots-Irish, English, Welsh, with one descendant down the line being of Apache heritage). Besides having a high tolerance for alcohol, this lineage has also led my family to be a sole supporter of Coppertone.

One Italian tradition I learned to love while visiting the country with my mother was biscotti (dipped in either espresso or wine). A few years later, while I was slinging pancakes in a local cafe, I was re-introduced to biscotti. After my waitressing shift was up I would take an espresso and piece of chocolate biscotti (technically, biscotto) to accompany me on the ride back to my apartment.

Biscotti is incredibly simple (remember: I don't make anything that's "hard") and like biscuits, if you have a good base to work from, you can expand the flavors immensely. I recently made a large batch of gingerbread biscotti and espresso chocolate-chip biscotti to send to three lovely ladies as part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It was so fun to send out my cookies in their little tins, only to receive three batches of scrumptious goodies in return. If you missed out, don't worry, I heard the organizers will do it again next year!

Special Shout-Out: I sent my cookies to Annalise at Completely Delicious, Jewel at Eat Drink Shop Love,  and Tanvi at The Hathi Cooks. In return, I received Double Chocolate Crackles from Amber at Amber's Confections, Molasses Cookies with Orange Sugar from Emily at Back to the Cutting Board, and Dark Chocolate Cafenela Cookies from Leslie at My Kitchen is Open. Now, on to the recipe.


Makes 20 pieces

Base Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt together. Set aside

2. Beat together the eggs and sugar until combined and pale (that's how you know the sugar has dissolved). Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

3. On a greased cookie sheet (this is one of the few times I actually dig out my Sil-Pat), form dough into log about three inches wide and 12-15 inches long. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.

4. Remove biscotti from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. With a serrated bread knife, cut the biscotti into about 20 pieces (more or less, depending on how thick you like you biscotti). Be sure to cut straight down into the biscotti to get clean cuts that doesn't cause the cookies to crumble. Arrange back on the cookie sheet and back for another 12-15 minutes until the biscotti is dry and crisp. Allow to cool on a baking sheet. Enjoy by dunking into your favorite Italian beverage.

Espresso Chocolate-Chip Biscotti
Start with base recipe, but add to egg/sugar mixture...
2 teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder
2 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(or 3 teaspoons very strong espresso and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

After incorporating dry ingredients, add six ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate or mini chocolate chips. Bake as above.

Gingerbread Biscotti
Start with base recipe, but add to dry ingredients...
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest

Bake as above.