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Mucho Gusto

Italian Biscotti

Crunchy and nutty, with a hint of sweetness, biscotti is a quintessential Italian breakfast treat and a Vuono family favorite. Americans use the word, biscotti, to simply refer to this delicious crescent-shaped and crisp cookie. On the other hand, Italians have a very broad definition of the word “biscotti,” using it to refer to different types of cookies, and they call this specific twice-baked biscuit, cantucci.

Tracing back to Ancient Rome, biscotto derives from the Latin roots “bis” for “twice,” and “cotto,” for “cooked.” The most traditional biscotti, or cantucci, comes from the city of Prato, in the Tuscan region of Italy. Traditionally, biscotti are often made with almonds, which is the recipe my family still lives by today.

Although modern variations of biscotti can be made with raisins or other dried fruit, chocolate, or types of nuts, I believe this classic Tuscan recipe is truly the best–and most authentic. These biscotti are perfect with a cup of coffee, or as I ate them growing up, with a glass of milk. 

My father’s side of the family is very Italian, and I grew up surrounded by great cooks. My cousins and I always loved being the designated taste testers.  Whether we were tasting the al-dente of the penne for pasta dinners or licking the spoon from the tiramisu dessert, we always hung around the kitchen, waiting to try anything we could get our hands on. My grammy, the biscotti expert, taught me how to make these delicious biscuits. Throughout the years, I learned to perfect the recipe with her words of wisdom. I truly learned from the best, and I hope that this recipe satisfies all your biscotti cravings!

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg to brush on loaf
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons crushed anise seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (Add a little more to measuring cup for sprinkling on floured board)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds

Instructions

First, preheat the oven to 350℉. Crack the eggs in a bowl, and beat with a whisk or fork until well-blended. Then, mix in the oil and add the sugar until it has fully dissolved in the mixture.

Incorporate the crushed anise seeds, baking powder, vanilla, and salt into the mixture.  Carefully stir in the flour, making sure there are no lumps or clumps. Add in the slivered almonds and continue to mix. At this point, the dough should be quite stiff and easy to mix by hand.

Next, take a cutting board and coat it with flour. Separate the dough into three equal parts. Knead and roll each segment of dough into a long roll until it loses its stickiness. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and place each long loaf equal distance apart on the pan.

Crack another egg into a separate bowl and beat. Once the egg is fully whipped and fluffy, brush it over each loaf so that each cookie will have a nice shine after it bakes. 

Bake the loaves in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is light brown. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, slice each loaf on the diagonal and place each piece back on the parchment. Bake for 10 more minutes–hence the twice baked tradition of this cookie. Remove from the oven, and let cool. Once they are hardened, they are ready to serve! Buon Appetito!

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