RECIPE: Maria's Biscotti Two Ways

Everyone has that dog-eared, well-loved old cookbook that is there go-to, that cookbook that may need to end up in the coffin with you when you go to the great beyond? That cookbook for me is one I found in a thrift store from an Italian cook, Maria Esposito. This drew my attention because my mother's family name is Esposito, and Maria's cooking seemed very "Napolitano"...from Naples...where my mom was born. Maria's style of cooking felt like home, and though my mom has given me her recipes through the years (in fact I have been working on a cookbook since 1999) it has been nice to have a cookbook with proper measurements that have been kitchen tested. It has taken me so long to get my family cookbook written because my mother does a lot of "some of this and pinch of that..." but we are working through it. Any publishers out there? I am looking for takers!

Anyway, Maria's cookie chapter is one of my favorites, and these biscotti do not disappoint. I like to divide the batter in two and make a batch with chocolate chips like my mother makes. I also used Sambuca instead of anise extract, like my nonna used. You can use anise extract if you wish. You can also use other extracts and play with mix-ins. Make the cookies yours. Italian nonnas will be proud.

Maria's Biscotti Two Ways


3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour 
2 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder 
1/2 a teaspoon of salt 
6 tablespoons of softened butter 
6 large eggs 
1 cup of sugar 
6 tablespoons of Sambuca or other Anise Liquor
    you could also use anise extract, about 2 tablespoons 
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (optional) 


Preheat the oven to 350˚. Lightly grease two cookie sheets or use parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter and/or rub mixture with your hands until it has a texture of coarse cornmeal. This is as if you’re making a crumble or a piecrust.

In a large bowl with a stand mixer beat the eggs well. Add the sugar until thick and lemon colored. Add the anise extract or the Sambuca. Mis well. Turn the stand mixer on low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together.

I shape two logs, one plain and one with chocolate chips. I divide the dough in two and turn them onto each baking sheet: one baking sheet per each flavor, using a spatula and my floured hands to shape the logs. The logs should be about 12 x 3“ large. I mix the chocolate chips in the second half of the dough. 

Bake for about 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch and puffed up and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and lower temperature to 325˚.  Wait for the logs to set, which is usually about 15 minutes. after that, I take each cookie loaf and place on cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut vertically into 1-inch slices and lay them on their sides back onto the baking sheet. Place the cookie sheets back in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes on each side, or until toasted and golden brown. Let them cool down a little in the pan before transferring them over to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

 Play with different mix-ins. Some people like to add almond slices or candied fruit.



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