Holiday Food Gifts: Homemade Biscotti

Once upon a time, while policemen were dunking donuts, people across the pond in Italy were dunking biscotti...and still are. Actually, in Italy it's served with a dessert wine, but here in the US, we take biscotti with our coffee.

If you are willing to bake cookies, you might as well bake biscotti. It almost as easy as baking cookies but lasts twice as long and makes twice the impression!

One of my favorite biscotti flavors is Anise-Almond Biscotti.

Anise-Almond Biscotti (Number of servings 30 biscotti)

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons anise extract or anise seeds, ground
1 cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract and ground aniseed in large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in almonds.
Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each dough log.
Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

(When cutting biscotti, cut the slices on the diagonal. It will give it a slender, quill-like appeal.)

The biscotti won't take long to prep and bake, so spend some more time with the presentation.

Here are 5 tips on biscotti gifting:

1) Naked - a little goes a long way. A simple ribbon makes the perfect statement.
2) Brown bag it - You gotta have a little mystery sometimes. Choose a decorative paper and make a basic bag out of it. Tie an embellishment or an antique drawer pull or necklace pendant to it with a to/from tag.

3) Mailbox drop-off - Pack your biscotti in take out containers and leave it in their mailbox

4) Go green - Is "going green" old? Definitely not. Remind the fad followers that going green is not a fashion statement. Give this gift with the planet in mind. Wrap biscotti in green decorative paper, or newspaper. The paper should be cut short so that the top and bottom ends of the biscotti are exposed. Tie a sprig of rosemary with the paper. For a cohesive theme - try baking Rosemary-Cranberry Biscotti.

5) Open Canvas - go all out with an old cigar box: personalize it, adorn it, cover it, etc... If you don't have a box like this, you can buy a simple wooden box at any craft store.

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