The Best Biscotti Ever
by janice picardi
Mom making Biscotti
My maternal grandmother immigrated from Italy in 1918 with very few personal possessions but some very great talent. She was a excellent baker but never had any recipes written. She would judge the consistency of the ingredients by the way the batter stuck to the spoon or how the dough felt when she kneaded it. This is how she taught my 90 year old mother who still bakes pretty much the same way.6 eggs
She made Biscotti cookies for us long before they were popular.I know everyone thinks that there is no problem making and baking a good Biscotti. But there is, or there would not be so many recipes out there that have not survived the test of time. I laugh and think that some people may think that coffee houses made Biscotti popular, I know better, it was the Grandmothers that make it popular.
Of course my Grandmother's cookies were not the hard cookies you buy in the coffee shops and grocery store now. They were not mushy or soft so when you dunk them they fell apart. They were always perfect with enough dryness, sweetness, and, flavor.
Years ago we started to look for recipes that may have the ingredients and measurements that she used and had her judge the baking of the cookies. She would make us adjust the recipe with "not to mucha salt or mora sugar" but again never an exact measurement. She finally liked this recipe and so do we. Her original recipe never had chocolate, that was added by her "American" grand daughter but I think she would approve. She also used anise oil that we would had to purchase from a drugstore and because it was "expensive for those days" she would use a dropper to put the oil in the dough.
My mother is now the baker in our family. She has baked these cookies for open houses, for gifts of thank you when she is a guest, she serves them for her own guests. They are always a crowd pleaser and most requested cookie. I have enclosed a picture of my Mom which inspired me to send the recipe. She was preparing the cookies for her Cardiologist and for a niece and I took the recipe from her to come to the computer but she continued to prepare the dough without noticing it was gone. She cooks and bakes from the love of her heart as my Grandmother taught her. My Mother is, and my Grandmother was, both incredible, strong and caring women.The bread board is the original bread board her father made in the 1920's. When she cleaned everything up she asked for the recipe but the cookies were already in the oven so all she did was put it away.
Such a cookie should not wait until Christmas to be enjoyed. It should be enjoyed all the time.
Makes 60 cookies
1 cup of sugar
1/2 pound of butter, softened
4 cups of flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of anise extract, or 1 teaspoon of anise liquor
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
Toast almonds in a dry pan over medium heat.
Get eggs to room temperature and beat well.
Add sugar and butter until blended.
Combine dry ingredients, except cocoa, and mix well with the sugar/egg mixture.
Important to knead well until smooth (do not play or over-knead as the dough will be tough).Use a bread board if you have one.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Divide dough in half. In one 1/2 of the dough add the cocoa powder and knead again.
Place parchment paper on the bread board to keep the cocoa confined and not to stain the board.
With floured hands shape each piece of dough into a 14" by 4" loaf and place on greased cookie sheet. Use parchment paper if you have it. Dough should be sticky
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
Cool loaves for about 20 minutes.
Transfer to cutting board and with a serrated knife cut each loaf crosswise into 1/2 in thick diagonal slice and place cut side down on the same cookie sheet.
Return to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or each side until golden.
Remove and cool.
Place Chocolate in glass pie plate; heat in microwave on medium 50% power until chocolate melts stirring until smooth. Dip 1 side of the biscotti in chocolate and place on rack or cookie sheet chocolate side up until dry.
Store in a covered canister or tin if there are any left after 1 day.