Two things you will always find in my grandpa’s kitchen; torcetti (an amazingly good Italian cookie that I may share some day) and biscotti. When I was younger my taste palate was not acquired to the subtle anise taste in his biscotti recipe and I always favored the torchettes. Now I can’t get enough of them.
Whenever I stop by the first place I go, is to the tin on the kitchen counter and every time I’m not disappointed. I’ve named them the loaded biscotti, although we’ve always refered to them as just biscotti. Loaded, because they are so packed with nuts and dried fruit bits that when mixing everything together I always wonder how this will possibly all fit. Every bite is filled with so much flavor, one bite might bring out the tartness of the cranberries, which is then mellowed by the almonds and kissed with an exotic note from the anise. Still to this day you can find my grandpa pulling a fresh batch of these from the oven on any lazy afternoon.
Whoo, there is a lot of chopping going on, if you think you can use your food processor without pulverizing every nut, it might save some time, just don’t allow the nuts to blend too finely. The dough is quite stiff as well and you might want to mix everything by hand so your blender doesn’t get angry.
A couple changes I made to my grandpa’s original version, I used cane sugar instead of granulated and I substituted some of the all purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour. These changes didn’t effect the taste from the original, but use granulated sugar and all purpose flour if that’s what you have on hand. I personally have never used liquid anise before and this time I actually used fennel seeds instead of anise seeds for an even more subtle anise flavor. You can omit the anise all together if you don’t like the flavor at all, but I really think it’s what makes these biscotti special. Coming from someone who doesn’t like black licorice, I actually really like it in there. Also, I halved this recipe because the original makes a ton, but you can easily double everything if you want more.
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon anise liquid or 1 teaspoon anise seed
2 tablespoons bourbon, optional
zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup almonds, chopped or sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup pistachios
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
egg white for brushing, optional
Preheat oven to 375?F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly greased and set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix the melted butter and sugar. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, anise, bourbon, and lemon zest.
Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until a stiff dough is formed. Add in all the nuts and dried fruit, mix until thoroughly combined.
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape each into a long 3-inch wide and 1/2-inch thick log. Brush with egg wash.
Bake the two sheets on two different racks for 20 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. For even baking rotate the sheets half way through baking time. Alternatively you could bake each separately.
Remove from the oven, but keep the oven on. Let cool slightly, enough until able to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch wide slices on the diagonal. Place each biscotti cut side down and bake again for 10-15 minutes.
Let cool completely then store in an airtight container for about 1 week.