Rituals. We all have them. As a child raised in a predominantly Italian-American family (don't let my surname fool you) baking dozens and dozens (probably hundreds) of cookies each December with my mother and sister was ours. And I loved every minute of it. These specialties were only made once a year, steeped in tradition and ritual of generations past. The kitchen cupboards brimmed with an array of nuts, dried fruits, chocolate and spices in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We had our favorites and classics and always tried something new each season. Each neighbor received a hand delivered (by yours truly) wrapped sampling of our efforts.
Now, try as I might, I have not been able to produce such variety and quantity as we did then, but I manage to get a several types made each holiday. Hard Italian biscotti have been a favorite of mine for years. I'm a dunker (guilty), and biscotti are perfect for dunking in my hot cuppa. You can flavor these twice baked cookies with anything your heart desires. Just so happens my heart was desiring lemon, anise and almond with a crumbly cornmeal texture. Other combos that my my heart sing: orange-cranberry-pistachio, hazelnut-dipped halfway in dark chocolate, sesame-semolina. You can play around with combos as you see fit.
The next post will be a recipe for my all-time favorite holiday cookies: Linzer, an almond sandwich cookie filled with homemade raspberry-maple jam. You wont want to miss this plant-based version, so stay tuned or sign up to follow the blog by email.
Recipe after the jump...
Makes about fourteen 1/2" cookies
1 Cup all-purpose flour (I've been using einkorn flour lately and really like it)
1/2 Cup fine cornmeal or polenta
1/2 Cup rapadura sugar (whole cane sugar)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon anise seeds
pinch of sea salt
1/4 Cup + 1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon flax meal
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from 1 lemon (use a microplane for a fine zest)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Fit a silicone mat or parchment paper into sheet pan. In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, anise seeds and salt. Whisk together until incorporated. In a small bowl whisk together flax meal and water until frothy (this is your "egg"). Add oil, vanilla, and lemon zest to water-flax mixture and whisk together until incorporated. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir together with a rubber spatula. Fold in almonds. Dough should be stiff and form together into a ball.
Dust prepared sheet pan with flour and turn dough out onto sheet pan. Form dough into a log about 2 1/2" wide by 11" long. Bake on middle rack for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Slice on diagonal into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange slices on sheet pan and return to oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer biscotti to cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
Biscotti will keep sealed at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you want to try other flavor combos, you can replace the cornmeal portion with all-pupose flour, and you might have to add more water a teaspoon at a time if dough seems too dry.
I would love to see your creations! Tag your photos with #fareislerecipe on instagram.
Happy holiday baking to you all!