I was first introduced to biscotti back in my coffee shop days. I would occasionally buy one of the packaged ones that we sold and while it was okay, it certainly didn’t knock my socks off. A couple of years later, my mother’s friend dropped off a batch of her homemade biscotti using her secret family recipe. I smiled politely and plopped it on the counter top, where it sat forgotten for a couple of days.
(Fast forward a couple of days.)
As I made my coffee on that fateful day, I threw a couple of the Italian cookies on my plate and sat down to watch The Today Show. And then I took a bite. And then my life changed forever.
I called my mom and asked her to please call Debbie and to beg for the recipe. I would swear on my soul, on my mother’s soul and on the soul of my beloved bionic cat Payton that I would never reveal the sacred recipe to anyone. She scoffed and was unmoved by my pleas (as relayed through my mother). Ok, so really she just politely said, “Fat chance, sister,” but you get the point.
A couple of weeks later, she sent my mother an email with a biscotti recipe that she found online and said that it was fairly close to her own. So, I spent the first 6 months of Parker’s life tinkering with it. Altering it. Improving it. And now, I’m posting it here for all of the world to see because I want everyone to share in my gleefulness. Hmmm, perhaps she was on to something by not entrusting her top secret recipe to me?
Anyway, here we go:
10 tablespoons butter, softened (a stick and another small chunk)
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoons Anise seeds (in the spice isle of the store)
2 Tablespoons Pernod, Sambuca or Ouzo (licorice flavored liquor)
2 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat your oven to 325 (if you have a convection oven, use that feature instead). Then, put your anise seeds and your Ouzo (or liquor of choice) into a ramekin and microwave it for 15 seconds.
Next, if you’re like me and you NEVER remember to soften the dang butter, just throw it on a plate and microwave it for 30 seconds at 20% power.
Works like a charm. Now throw the butter and the sugar together in the mixer and mix on medium until it’s thoroughly creamed (and coating the outside of your bowl).
I know that seems like a lot of butter, but you have to trust me on this one. I’ve tried to cut the amount down and the cookies just get too dry and brittle. It’s definitely worth the calories in this one. Okay, now add in your eggs one at a time.
And then add in your seed/Ouzo mixture.
Finally, slowly add in your flour (which I’ve already combined with the salt and baking powder).
The dough is going to get pretty thick, but keep mixing it until all of the flour has been incorporated.
Alright, now stir in your almonds with a spatula, making sure to work them all the way through.
Once your dough is mixed, spread a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter top and pile the dough on it.
Wrap the wax paper around it and form a tight ball. I usually then add a layer of plastic wrap.
Now, throw this sucker in the freezer for 30 minutes. It will be MUCH easier to work with when the butter has once again solidified, otherwise it’s just a sticky mess. If you’re thinking that this looks a bit labor intensive, it really isn’t. When Parker was first born, I would make the dough the night before and refrigerate it overnight. Then, I would bake it the following morning. I literally did this on a weekly basis. Of course, you can also double or triple the recipe and keep dough balls in the freezer, but I was entirely too sleep deprived to think of that back then.
Okay, fast forward 30 minutes. Cut your dough into two pieces and start working them into two logs that are roughly 1/2 inch tall and 3 inches wide. I usually use a little bit of flour to help facilitate this process.
Now, bake for 20-25 minutes or until just golden brown.
Pull them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes. Then, using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1 inch cookies and lay them on their sides.
Throw them back into the oven for 4-5 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 4-5 minutes. And then. And then.
There really are no words for what happens when you dip a homemade biscotti into your favorite coffee and then take a bite. It’s just something that has to be experienced. So this holiday season, treat yourself and make some biscotti magic. You won’t regret it.