Classic Italian Cookies for the New Year
By Pia Hinckle
Biscotti are twice-baked biscuits, cookies but not too sweet, that originated in Tuscany, in the town of Prato, to be exact. My Italian great-grandmother Pia was from Convalle, a tiny hilltop town outside of Lucca, and brought her version of biscotti to America when she immigrated in 1912.
My mother Denise bakes her grandmother’s biscotti recipe each Christmas. We all look forward to the smell of the warm loaves of dough when they come out of the oven and the crispy biscotti after they have been sliced and baked again.
Biscotti are perfect for soaking in coffee, tea, or a glass of red wine, or to enjoy on their own. Because the dough needs to rest for at least 4 hours (or overnight), it can be prepared ahead of time and then baked. They are great to give to friends as a New Year treat.
Nonni’s Walnut Biscotti
Makes about six dozen biscotti. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
(Note: This recipe can be halved to make a smaller batch.)
- Extra large mixing bowl
- Two baking sheets
2½ cups sugar
6 cups flour
Six teaspoons double-acting baking powder
One stick (8 tablespoons) of melted butter
Two tablespoons Crisco (melted) or olive oil
One teaspoon vanilla extract
One teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces whiskey (or sweet vermouth)
1½ cups freshly shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped
PREPARING THE DOUGH
- Using an extra large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar, melted butter, Crisco, vanilla & almond extracts, and whiskey.
- Add the nuts and mix well with a large wooden spoon.
- In another bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
- Add slowly to the egg mixture, mixing well until combined, then adding more.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight. The dough will rise some.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare a floured surface.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and knead the dough, adding flour until it is no longer tacky.
- Divide the dough into five equal sized loaves.
- Grease the baking sheets and place 2-3 loaves on each one.
- Bake until loaves begin to brown on the bottom and a toothpick comes out clean, about 10-15 minutes. Pay attention that they do not burn.
- Remove loaves and slice like a loaf of bread into 1-inch pieces.
- Lay the slices flat on a baking sheet and put back into the oven. Bake until the bottom of slices begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove and turn slices over and bake the other side until brown, about 10-15 minutes.
Serves 10. Cook time, 45 minutes. Store in a container for up to two weeks.