RECIPE: Pine Nut and Anise Biscotti


Holiday entertaining is here, and sometimes you want something light and sweet for dessert that goes great with coffee instead of the heavy, decadent desserts typical of the season. These biscotti are a great ending to a heavy dinner, and hold up great with coffee.

I grew up with biscotti, being first generation Italian. Biscotti are great to have around for quick neighbor drop ins or big dinners. They also last a while-up to 2 weeks actually. They tend to be hard and crunchy, which makes them forgiving when storing them. So keep them around and your ready for when a sweet tooth hits you or your Aunt Edna stops by. They hold up to freezing and defrost quickly, too.

These have been a fast favorite at our home. The orange zest is aromatic and subtle, and works nicely with the anise flavor. The pine nuts give them a rich flavor with an extra crunch.

Most people skip making biscotti. They are baked twice, making them labor intensive. But the dough comes together easily, so I think that makes up for the extra time baking. Add these babies to your holiday baking repertoire and you won't be disappointed. Promise!


Pine Nut and Anise Biscotti
adapted from Williams Sonoma's Special Occasions Cookbook
makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:
1 cup pine nuts, toasted in a small pan over medium heat, jostling constantly then cooled
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. anise seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, oil, orange zest, anise seeds and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the pine nuts, give it a final mix in and turn the dough onto a floured work surface.

Using a dough scraper, give the dough about 10 turns to make the dough firm enough to handle.

Working directly on the baking sheets, divide the dough in half and form each into a log, about 2" in width and 13-15" inches long. I used one sheet per log. I used my hands as well as my spatula to evenly distribute the dough.

Bake until firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. The logs will puff up and spread. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, but leave the oven on because you aren't done!

Transfer the first log to a cutting board carefully. Slice the log using a serrated knife crosswise into 1/4"-1/2" thick slices. Arrange the slice, cut side down, back onto the baking sheets. Repeat with the other log.

Place the filled baking sheets back into the oven and bake until lightly golden and dried out, about 20 minutes longer. I flipped them over carefully halfway through so they could evenly dry out on both sides.

Transfer them to cooling racks when finished. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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