The word biscotti comes from the Latin word biscoctus, which means twice baked. In northern Italy they are called cantucci, but here in America the term biscotti is commonly used.
Use Anise or Fennel seeds from your garden
Anise, Pimpinella anisum and Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare are both in the parsley (Apiaceae) family. Anise is primarily grown for the seeds and serves mainly as a spice; fennel is grown for use as a spice (seeds), herb (leaves) or vegetable (bulb). Both plants are hosts for swallowtail butterfly larvae (caterpillars) and are a lovely addition to butterfly and cottage gardens.
Anise is an annual plant with white, umbel flowers and a long taproot. Once rooted, it should not be relocated. Fennel, on the other hand, is available in many varieties and is an easy-to-grow biennial/perennial (depending on your variety) having a bulbous base and yellow, umbel flowers that reward your efforts with seeds every fall.
Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, our Bronze Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum', blooms and begins to seed in August. When the seeds look dry and ready to fall off the plant, the umbels can be cut and allowed to dry in brown bags or on large baking pans. The seeds will readily drop off and can be easily collected and stored in airtight containers or spice jars.
Anise and/or fennel seeds add a wonderful licorice flavor to many kinds of recipes. Fennel seeds are double the size of anise seeds, but anise seeds have a much stronger flavor. Fennel or anise provides the distinctive flavor in Italian sausages and in other savory dishes, such as pork or tomato sauces. Anise seed is also used as flavoring in baked goods, root beer, gum, candies and alcoholic beverages. For this recipe, you don't have to use seeds at all, but they sure enhance the texture and flavor.
Great as a gift!
Biscotti is a treat your family will love and is very rewarding to make. They store in cookie jars well when sealed in airtight baggies. A large batch can be made, which makes a welcomed gift for family and friends for any occasion, especially during holidays.
The lure of Italian food, culture & tradition
My Mama's recollections of family, Italian foods, culture and traditions have lured me to bake Italian specialties. They are usually made of simple, wholesome ingredients, are often low or reduced in sodium and fat, and contain healthful fruits or seeds that can be grown in a home garden.
Enjoy this Anise Biscotti recipe from my cucina
Yields:Unbleached all-purpose flourBaking powderSaltUnsalted butter, room temperatureGranulated sugarLarge eggsPure anise oil or extractAnise or fennel seeds3 dozen6 dozen2 ½ cups (312.5 g)5 cups (625 g)1 ½ teaspoons (7 g)1 tablespoon (14 g)¼ teaspoon (1.5 g)½ teaspoon (3 g)¼ cup (57 g)½ cup (114 g)1 cup (200 g)2 cups (400 g)361 teaspoon (5 mL) anise oil or 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Anise extract2 teaspoons (10 mL) Anise oil or 2 tablespoons (30 mL) Anise extract1 teaspoon (~2 g)2 teaspoons (~4g)Dipping chocolate (optional) Egg Wash:1 egg, whisked with a splash of water
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and get all your ingredients together.
- Place aluminum foil on your cookie sheet(s)* and lightly spray with a non-stick spray; set aside.
* for the 6 doz recipe, I use 2 large cookie sheets1) Combine and sift dry ingredients - flour, baking powder and salt 3 times; set aside.2) In mixing bowl beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
3) Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
You can add the egg shells to your compost pile.
4) Mix in the anise oil or extract, then add the seeds.
5) Add the flour mixture and mix on low until completely mixed.
6) Form the dough into even logs on your prepared cookie sheet(s).
Using your hands or a small spatula, shape the logs into even rectangles.
7) Brush the logs with egg wash and bake at 350°F (180°C), 20-25 minutes, or until they are lightly golden in color.
Remove from oven and cool trays on wire racks - the cookies can stay on the trays.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C).
8) Easily peel the foil off the bottom and move the logs to a cutting board.
Keep the foil and cookie sheets aside for the second baking.
Cut the logs into ¾" (19 mm) slices. You can also cut them on a diagonal, which makes the cookies larger. Place biscotti on their side back on the cookie sheets.
9) Bake again at the lower temperature for 15-25 minutes.
Check the bottoms and when they are slightly toasted turn them over and bake the other side for 5-10 minutes.
I find the second side takes less time.
- Cool completely before storing*.
- When completely cool, they store best if placed in plastic baggies within airtight containers or cookie jars.
* Optional Chocolate Dip: melt some dipping chocolate and dip the bottoms, let them dry on their side on parchment or wax paper.
Enjoy further reading: Aunt Bett, Fennel, and the Lickrish Butterflies by Sharon Brown
Footnotes: photos copyright © 2008 Wind. All rights reserved.
Nutrition facts are for two small plain anise biscotti (not chocolate dipped). Nutrition data image courtesy of www.NutritionData.com
 Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia; Biscotti. Accessed August 25, 2008.
Thank you for joining Dave's Garden special theme-week celebration of
National Coffee Day, September 29, 2008
Tuesday, September 23: The Truth about Chicory by Sharon Brown
Wednesday, September 24: Save your money: Delicious cups of wonder from the world of COFFEE by April Campbell
Thursday, September 25: Coffee tasting on the Big Island of Hawaii by Jill M. Nicolaus
Friday, September 26: Happy, Hunting Grounds by Jeremy Wayne Lucas
Saturday, September 27: Cowboy coffee: Keeping it real by Summer Walla
Sunday, September 28: Bird Lovers, Wake Up and Smell the Shade Coffee! by Marna Towne
Monday, September 29 (National Coffee Day) - Diana's Anise Biscotti by Diana Wind
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 29, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)