Some mornings I’m looking to have something other than my standard two eggs, over medium, with one slice of bacon. Those mornings you can bet, if I have biscotti in the house, it’s getting paired with a cup of coffee and I’m happy as can be sitting at my kitchen table as the sun comes up. And if I’m really lucky…it’s quiet, my little noisemakers still fast asleep. I know, cookies for breakfast, not the most nutritious option, but it’s not something I make a habit of and I’m pretty sure it’s a heck of a lot better for you than the sugary cereals being pawned off as a breakfast food. Also, coffee and biscotti are meant for each other. This dry, but tender, slightly sweet, biscotti is just begging to be dipped into your coffee. The anise in the biscotti enlivened by the heat of the coffee and the coffee lending another layer of flavor to the cookies, it’s perfection. That’s it, biscotti for breakfast… justified!
I don’t recall my grandmother eating biscotti for breakfast, as I am known to do, but she always had them on hand to share with family and visitors. Biscotti and brown cookies (an Italian chocolate cookie with raisins and walnuts) in giant containers just waiting to delight. Not only were they intended for serving you during your visit, but also a filled sandwich baggie was always given as you left. My children were all too familiar with her cookie stash and knew she would allow them to eat cookie after cookie if they wanted and mom wouldn’t say a word because nonna was the boss. It gave her so much joy to see her loved ones savor her cooking. I know that feeling too. I’m just like her in my desire to bring comfort and good spirits through fulfilling the basic need to eat.
Let’s now talk about the texture and hardness level of biscotti. It can vary greatly from recipe to recipe. Have you ever nearly chipped a tooth on a rock-hard biscotti? Some biscotti, especially commercially produced, have the texture of fossilized tree bark. Not really, but kind of, right? Even though I’m poking fun, I actually like fossilized tree bark biscotti as well, they’re just different from my grandmother’s. Her recipe (this recipe), differs in that the higher fat content makes for a biscotti that is slightly softer in texture, while still retaining firmness. Because of their dryness, they keep wonderfully in a sealed container for a couple of weeks at room temperature and even longer in the freezer (6 months)… but they’ll never last that long!
This anise biscotti is a base for wonderful additions as well. My grandmother would often add orange zest and mini chocolate chips or almonds. I sometimes add finely chopped dried apricots and dark chocolate, but the plain is fantastic on its own without any embellishments. Just be sure to have some freshly brewed coffee on hand when serving, it’s a must!
Yields: 24 biscotti Total Bake time: 28-38 min.
- Preheat oven 375°
- Line a sheet pan (18×13) with parchment
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg, separated
- 1 tablespoon anise extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon milk
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white from the separated egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now, add the anise extract and mix to combine. At this point, scrape down your bowl and paddle and mix for about 1 minute more or until your batter is completely smooth. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together with a whisk. With the stand mixer running on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix on low until just combined.
Divide dough in half and knead slightly on a lightly floured surface. Place both halves of dough on the lined baking sheet. Shape each half into a loaf that measures about 13 inches long and roughly 2 inches wide. Leave about 4 inches of space between loaves. With a fork, mix the reserved yolk with 1 tablespoon of milk. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the biscotti with the egg yolk and milk mixture. Bake on the center rack in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. The loaves should be nicely puffed and a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on pan for about 10 minutes. With a spatula, remove biscotti loaves to a cutting board and cut across, on a diagonal, with a sharp knife into 1- inch wide slices. Now, place the slices back on the baking sheet so they are laying flat. It’s fine for them to touch, they will not stick together. Placing close together should allow for the biscotti slices to all fit in 1 pan. Put sliced biscotti back into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Enjoy your biscotti for breakfast (like me) or anytime day or night.