I am not a real fan of cookies.
I mean sometimes I will eat one but I am usually disappointed and think they are not worth the calories. So when people bring Christmas cookies to my house, I let my husband, sons and granddaughter polish them off without regret. There is one kind of Christmas cookie I like, which was the kind my mother made when I was a child, but vanilla crescents are way too fragile to truck around to other people’s houses or give as a small gift.
So what is an indifferent cookie baker to do when she needs to bring cookies to a holiday function?
Bring biscotti instead! You wouldn’t take biscotti to your kid’s class holiday party, but as adult cookies they can’t be beat. They are sweet, crunchy, anise flavored, low fat and classy. Biscotti go well with coffee and can withstand dunking if you are that kind of person. While you can, of course, make the recipe more child-friendly with chocolate chips or other additions to the batter, I prefer my biscotti plain and simple with anise seeds and nuts. Let the eight-year-olds eat those god-awful frosted sugar cookies with Hershey kisses on top. I will have a biscotto, thank you. (Note my crafty use of the Italian singular. Biscotti, biscotto; spaghetti, spaghetto; but in English the plural of cello is cellos, go figure.)
This is my friend Martha’s recipe for biscotti with hazelnuts and almonds. Her original hand-written recipe is so stained it was hard to read, that is how good they are.
RECIPE: BISCOTTI DE NOCCIOLE E MANDERLO
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 ½ teaspoons anise seeds
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup each toasted hazelnuts and almonds.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the flour mix and add the eggs. Stir until the dough comes together. Sprinkle in the nuts, one half cup at a time, and incorporate them into the dough. The dough will be soft and sticky. Knead it briefly on a floured surface and leave it to rest for five minutes covered with a towel.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured surface to form a 14-inch log. Place the three logs on the prepared cookie sheet, at least three inches apart.
Bake the logs for 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from oven, cool slightly so they can be handled. Lift them off of the cookie tray and cut them diagonally into ½ inch slices. Stand them up on the baking sheet and return it to the oven for 10 more minutes or so until they are golden.
Storage: In an airtight container.