Homemade Biscotti!  My very favorite of the holiday baking.  Although I don't know why I consider this holiday baking - these should be made every day, they are so easy and so good.  I think I only make them once a year because I like them a little too much, if they are in the house I will eat too many. This recipe comes from an old Julia Child baking book that I have had for years and years.  Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers  It's a very flexible recipe that lets you make a basic biscotti and then add whatever you want.

These make fantastic gifts!  Unlike most holiday baking, these are not super sweet.  So I think they are a great alternative to all that sweet stuff. Wrap them up in a little parchment paper with some kitchen twine and a handmade gift tag - and you've got a special homemade gift that anyone will love.  I made these for years, and then I didn't make them for a few years while I was having babies, and everybody was asking me where they were.

They are meant to be dipped - I love to dip mine in coffee.  Tea is great too.  My kids like to dip them in milk.  And of course the traditional Italian Vin Santo is great too - if you haven't tried that you should, it's an elegant and lighter way to end a special meal.  Hmmm, I might have to get some Vin Santo for Christmas dinner...

Here's the recipe:

Cantuccini (Biscotti)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salk
  • 1 1/2 cups unblanched whole almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Mix all dry ingredients together.  Separately whisk together eggs and vanilla, and then stir into dry ingredients.  The dough seems a little dry at first, but it definitely comes together. (this is the point at which I stir in the nuts or other things that I add)  Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead a bit until it comes together, just a minute or two.  Divide in half and shape each half into a 10 - 12 inch log, and then gently press those logs to flatten them to about 2 inches wide - it will look like a little flat loaf - less than an inch tall.  This is where you can play with the size and shape, depending on whether you want mini biscotti, or big long ones like they sell in coffee shops, taller or shorter, etc.  Lay the flattened logs on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Now bake for 30 minutes, until slightly risen and firm, and a little browned.  Take them out and let completely cool.  Then slice, a serrated knife works best.  You can cut straight across for smaller cookies, or diagonally for longer cookies.  I like them about 1/2 inch thick.  Lay these slices on another baking sheet, and bake again for 10 - 15 minutes.  I like to do about 10 minutes and then turn over and do another 5 minutes.  They should be crisp and lightly browned.

As for variations - you can flavor these however you want.  Instead of vanilla, try almond extract.  This year I did one batch with hazelnuts and one batch with chocolate chips.  I also love to put dried cranberries in these -the combination of cranberries and chocolate is great (but I didn't have any cranberries this year).   Sometimes I just add extra cinnamon - I like the flavor of cinnamon and almonds.  Also in the past I have done some dipped in chocolate - that makes a super fancy gift, and is soooo good dipped in coffee.  And this year I made these with whole wheat flour, and I don't think it took away from the flavor or texture at all, so I'll definitely be doing it that way in the future.

I hope you try these - and let me know what you think. (and send me some!)


Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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