The “Versatile Little Christmas Cookie”
By now I’m sure you have been thinking about Christmas goodies that you might want to have on hand for gifts, snacks, holiday visits or little last minute remembrances that come to mind even when you think you’ve covered everyone on your list. We all have our special favorites, without which Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas.
Biscotti, another European favorite that has grown rapidly in popularity everywhere over the years, is perfect for this. I learned how to make them as a teenager at a time when they were not as common as they are now — unless you lived in an Italian household or had a friend or neighbor as we did. Rosie Di Rocca, a first generation Sicilian, lived a few doors away from us. She baked biscotti all year round and whenever she did, she shared them with us and taught me how to make them.
Over the years I’ve tried many different recipes and versions of this classic Italian goody but I always come back to her basic recipe, simply seasoned with anise seeds and flavoring. However there are endless variations on this versatile cookie that can be made according to your personal tastes by adding candied or dried fruits or nuts. Use your favorite flavorings: vanilla, almond, orange, lemon zest or liqueur. Dip or drizzle them with a chocolate glaze* or sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Baked twice, (which is what biscotti literally means) they store beautifully in an airtight container, crisp and crunchy for a month or more.
For a different way of serving them- keep a log of dough in the refrigerator and when unexpected guests drop in during the holidays, bake them only once, slice and serve them soft and warm on the spot. There is so much you can do with them. Just use your imagination and have fun with biscotti this Happy Holiday season.
CHANGE SERVING SIZEcookies
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 egg(s)
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. anise seed or 1 1/4 teaspoons ground anise or almond or vanilla flavoring to taste
- Cream butter and cream cheese together.
- Add sugar gradually, beating thoroughly after each addition.
- Beat in eggs one at a time; continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy.
- Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add this dry mixture to the creamed mixture; mix well.
- Add flavoring and mix well.
- Divide dough in thirds; place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and form into 3 rolls the length of the baking sheet and 1 1/2 inches wide.
- Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 35 minutes or until light brown.
- Remove from oven and cut rolls crosswise into slices about 3/4 inch thick.
- Place on cookie sheet cut side down.
- Return to oven.
- Bake 10 minutes longer or until toasted and crisp.
- heat 1/2 cup cream until hot but not boiling; Add chocolate chips til desired thickness. Makes about 1 cup of chocolate glaze