Thursday, December 23, 2010


I've gone from Italian cookies to Polish cookies and back to Italian. Actually, I've gone a great deal farther than that. I've baked at least nine batches of cookies since last week, not to mention making poppy seed cake, which is a day-long venture in itself. I'm actually quite sick of baking. Sick enough that when I realized the bottoms of the biscotti burned, I decided to go with it, even though I'm giving them as a gift. Ninety percent of each cookie is fine. Isn't that good enough?

I make these biscotti a few times a year, always as a gift to my grandfather. Seriously - what is there to buy an eighty-five year old man? He likes the biscotti, so I continue to make them. I do vary the flavors a bit. The recipe says to use anise extract, which is pretty traditional in biscotti. I abhor anise, however, so I won't use it. I succumbed and did it once, but just the smell of it in my kitchen gave me a splitting headache. Since then, I tend to switch between vanilla and almond. I suppose hazelnut might be good as well - maybe I'll try adding some Frangelico next year . . . This time, as a twist (and to get them out of my cabinet) I tossed in some slivered almonds. I think they added a nice texture to the finished product.

These are easy enough to make (except don't overgrease the pans - I think that's how I burned the bottoms) and make a nice gift. I generally tuck them into a pretty tin and stick a bow on top. You may still have time to get a batch in as a last-minute gift!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I've been using this recipe for several years now. I don't remember where I got it.

1/2 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 c sugar
1 tbsp almond extract 
3 1/4 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 c slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine oil, eggs, sugar and almond extract. Whisk until well blended. In a larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder and almonds. Whisk well. Add the egg mixture and stir until a heavy dough forms.

 (I often find it is necessary to knead it a bit to fully blend everything together. There are lots of floury bits that try to stay at the bottom of the bowl and not blend with the rest. Kneading will get most of them.)

Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a roll about as long as your baking sheet (I did a really nice job of the rolling this time. I usually end up with awkward, ungainly logs, but this time they're pretty consistent-looking). Press the rolls down to about 1/2" thickness.

Bake 25-30 minutes (until golden brown - and not burned on the bottom!). Cool on a wire rack.

When cooled, take each roll and cut into 1/2" slices (mine were a bit bigger this time, but I think it is better to err on the side of large - smaller ones will tend to crumble more at the edges. On that note, I find it easier to slice them with a carving knife, rather than a serrated bread knife. Serrated knives tend to make the edges crumble).

Place the slices side-by-side on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes on each side (you might want to check them - try not to let them burn!) until lightly toasted. Cool and enjoy!

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