Friday, October 11, 2013

Biscotti

You have got to try this biscotti. If you haven't made them before, don't worry--this was my first time making them and I'd say it was a success! As they were baking, my husband came home and was excited about the different aromas coming from the oven--and it brought a big smile to his face when I told him I was making Ethel's cookies. More about Ethel later.

You want to see the chocolate dipped biscotti you see in the background closer, don't you.

I didn't put the chocolate all the way across the cookie because the double boiler I melted the chocolate in was too small, next time I'll have to make the cookies smaller or find a wider bowl to pour the chocolate into!


Italian Cookies - Biscotti

from the kitchen of Pietta Menosse 
(by way of Ethel Nakamura)

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cubes butter (3/4 cup)
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (or 1 tsp. anise oil)
2 tablespoons anise seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds or pistachios
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add other ingredients and mix well. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape into logs and flatten a little. Bake at 375ºF until lightly brown, about 20-25 minutes.

I put some flour on my cutting board to handle the dough since the dough was sticky. I wish I was baking with Ethel so she could teach me, and tell me about all the variations she's tried.

*Note: Ethel says, "If you feel the dough is too sticky, don't hesitate to add more flour to the batter. I add anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 C extra flour as needed. After a period of time, I think you can easily gauge how much extra flour to add."

 This is how I placed them at first.

 But they expand quite a bit.

It's better to place them side-by-side.

Take out of the oven and cut diagonally. The first two that came out of the oven weren't quite done--it's much easier to slice them when they're not too moist, like these. 

After slicing, lay the cookies on a cookie sheet and brown for 30 minutes at 300ºF.

They come out of the oven dry and crisp. That's why they taste so good with coffee or milk.

If you want to dip them in chocolate, melt the chocolate over a double boiler over low heat until it melts, then dip the biscotti and place on wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies are a little big, but my husband says that's not a problem--not at all!

Itadakimasu!

***

Meet my friend Ethel. 

When I was doing a street-fair with my crafts earlier this year, Ethel brought me a bag of her freshly baked Italian cookies. She said that her neighbor, Pietta Menosse, taught her how to make them--actually took her into her kitchen and taught her how to make these cookies. Ethel said that whenever she makes them, she thinks fondly of her neighbor that has since passed-on, and gets teary-eyed when her name is mentioned. 

 As I was making the cookies with the recipe that Ethel has so generously shared, I thought about the two of them baking together and what kind of advice they would have given me while I was baking. Whenever I make these cookies I will think of Ethel, and her neighbor Pietta as well.

As we left the craft fair that day and were a few hours into our six-hour drive home, we opened the bag of biscotti again and began eating. They were so delicious and we were so appreciative of Ethel's thoughtfulness to bring us such a wonderful treat!

Ethel and I share photos of our families--this is a picture of her granddaughter, Presley, and her classical Japanese dance instructor, Madame Hanayagi.

The little one on the right is Ethel's grandson, Kurt--look how cute he is!

Thank you, Ethel, for sharing your recipe and stories with me. I appreciate your thoughtful kindness and generosity.


***




Italian Cookies - Biscotti

from the kitchen of Pietta Menosse 
(by way of Ethel Nakamura)

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cubes butter (3/4 cup)
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (or 1 tsp. anise oil)
2 tablespoons anise seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds or pistachios
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add other ingredients and mix well. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape into logs and flatten a little. Bake at 375ºF until lightly brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Take out of the oven and cut diagonally. The first two that came out of the oven weren't quite done--it's much easier to slice them when they're not moist. 

Lay the cookies on a cookie sheet and brown for 30 minutes at 300ºF.

4 comments:

  1. I remember Margaret & Pete's grandmother, Nonnie, making biscotti with them. I thought that it was so much of a hassle having to bake the cookies twice. But I have never eaten biscotti as good as hers. Now that she doesn't bake them anymore, either Margaret will have to pick up the tradition or I will have to pull out my cookie sheets.

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  2. I love your step-by-step instructions for the biscotti! Thank you :)

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