Find a quiet porch swing, a comfy kitchen table, or a serene spot of your choosing. Pour a glass of sweet wine or a cup of hot coffee and grab a plate of biscotti. You are now ready to enjoy the perfect Italian treat.
In his classic Italian cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well first published in 1891, Pellegrino Artusi describes biscotti with tongue in cheek, “Cheer up,” he says, “for if you eat these cookies you will never die, or you will live as long as Methuselah.” So if you feel guilty about eating cookies, remember Artusi’s words and enjoy.
Biscotti are simple to bake and make great gifts. They are such an interesting cookie because of their unique shape and the fact that they are baked twice, which makes them crispy and perfect for dunking. As a matter of fact, in Italian, the word bis- means twice. Literally, twice baked cookies.
Notes to the cook:
I enjoy baking because it is science in action. In my early-thirties, I went back to college and earned my BA in Life Science. I took organic chemistry, molecular biology, and physics. Little did I know that twenty years later I would be applying these concepts to my cooking and baking adventures. I remember Mr. Trowbridge, the organic chemistry instructor, taught us how to distill orange oil. Every ingredient had to be weighed and heated absolutely precisely or we would end up with a gooey mess.
When it comes to baking, there is little difference; precision is imperative. That is why I recommend purchasing a simple kitchen scale to use in your baking. The proper ratio of flour to sugar to baking powder is so important and can make the difference between cookies you can be proud of and something even the dog won’t eat. Be sure to get a scale that measures both ounces and grams, so you can weigh ingredients for any recipe. Here is my favorite:
How to Make Easy Biscotti:
Hazelnut Orange Biscotti
- 9 ounces / 255 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons)
- 9 ounces / 255 grams granulated sugar (1 – 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 7 ounces / 200 grams hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (1 – 1/2 cups)
- zest of 1 large orange
Makes about 30 cookies
- In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl, crack and beat eggs with a fork until just mixed.
- Add eggs to flour mixture and stir until well blended. The dough should be sticky and very moist.
- Fold in hazelnuts and orange zest. Mix well.
- Spoon dough onto a well floured board. Sprinkle some flour on top of dough.
- Press dough lightly to flatten and then fold dough over on itself and flatten again. Roll dough into a log shape. Do not knead the dough or handle too much. Dough should be soft and maleable. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut dough in half right down the middle.
- Roll each half into a log shape and place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave at least one inch between logs to allow for spreading. This is what gives biscotti its unique shape. Because it is a soft dough, it will spread out and flatten a bit during the first bake.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cookies have a hint of color. The logs should be just cooked through, not hard but no longer doughy.
- Remove from oven, slide each log onto a cooking rack and cool for 15 minutes.
- Using a sharp serrated knife, slice logs into half inch slices.
- Place the slices cut side down on baking sheet. Leave a small space between each cookie. Now bake for the second time, same temperature, for 12 minutes. The purpose of the second bake is to give the cookies a nice crunch and to further caramelize the sugars. Be careful not to overcook because the cookies can get too hard or taste burnt.
- Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
- Serve right away, or cool completely and store in an airtight container. Or bring a plate of biscotti to your neighbor’s house and be loved forever.
Preheat oven to 335 degrees F.