Tis The Season To Be Baking!

By now you’re probably deep into baking all your favorite holiday treats, pulling out recipes you haven’t made in a year or so. I started my baking last week, placed them in pretty tins ready to give away and share with family and friends. Here is a few of the things I baked so far.

Traditional ANISE BISCOTTI, it’s a huge favorite of my husband and brother-in-law, they love that sweet licorice taste of the anise. These biscotti are perfect for dunking in your coffee or espresso and great to have on hand when someone stops by.

To get that true anise flavor I always use anise oil instead of the extract and along with that I also mix in some anise seed, the oil is really strong so you don’t need very much but the flavor and smell lingers forever (or as long as your biscotti last,) in fact there’s still a lingering aroma of anise inside my house and I finished baking them a week ago!

The dough comes together very quickly it’s the baking that will take you the longest since you have to twice bake them. After first baking your logs you want to make sure they cool down before you cut into them for that second baking otherwise you’ll have a pile of crumbs. I use a heavy serrated knife to cut through mine, but I just recently got a great tip from my sister-in-laws from Florida, they cut their biscotti with an electric knife! Isn’t that a great idea? I’ll be on the lookout for electric knife for next year.
The great thing about biscotti is that they last weeks after you bake them and they taste just as good as the first day, if properly stored. I like to put mine in tin cans layered between wax paper, they stay all nice and crunchy that way!

ANISE BISCOTTI

Ingredients

5 cups unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of softened butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon of anise oil, or 2 tablespoons of anise extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of anise seed
Nuts are optional, I would use 1 cup of sliced almonds for this recipe

Directions
Sift dry ingredients together, including the anise seed. Set aside. In a large bowl with a mixer beat butter, sugar, until fluffy, add eggs one at a time along with the anise oil or extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low until blended. Divide mixture into 4 parts. Each part becomes a log measuring around 2 1/2 inches by 9 or 10 inches long. Place logs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 25 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from the oven and let them cool down on a rack. Carefully cut them 1/2 inch thick, turn each piece on their side and bake on each side for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Makes around 75 biscotti depending on size.

If you were to ask me what my personal favorite biscotti was I would have to say it would be this FIG and PISTACHIO version. Dried fig with just a hint of orange and anise flavors the crunchy biscotti that is studded with pistachio’s. You can’t beat this with a warm cup of espresso on the side, every bite is so full of flavor! If you like figs you will love these!
I’ve shared them on my blog before, so if you’re craving these crunchy goodies you can check out the recipe here.

Next up is PUFF COOKIES, I make them every year and I always will, they remind me of my mom and aunt. You’re probably familiar with these almost every nationality has their own version of them, also known as Mexican Wedding cookies, but to me and my family they’ll always be Puff Cookies!

Like puffs of snow these rich and buttery cookies just melt in your mouth, great as a gift in a pretty tin or just placed on a platter for any special occasion, either way they will be most appreciated. I also shared these on my blog way back when I first started blogging, you can find the recipe here.
And finally, I always like to put a new cookie into the mix, well new for me anyway. I’ve tasted RICOTTA COOKIES before but I haven’t ever made them myself until I saw Claudia’s version over at Journey of an Italian Cook. Poor thing she lives in Minnesota and just got hit by that big blizzard recently, stuck in the house she’s been cooking and baking up a storm! (no pun intended). I’m sure her family has been very grateful for the snowfall!

These cookies are truly addictive, the taste and the texture is perfect, not to sweet, just right!

Please, go out and get some ricotta, you still have time to make these and add them to your cookie tray, I promise you won’t regret it!

I’m sending you over to Claudia’s blog to get the recipe, the only thing I changed up was that I doubled the lemon zest in the batter, and then for the glaze, instead of 1 teaspoon of vanilla I did 1 teaspoon of lemon extract and more fresh lemon zest. I had a lemon theme going on and it went wonderful with the ricotta flavor, I will make these over and over again and so will you!
Happy Baking, and Buon Appetito!
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Comments

  1. Your cookies and biscotti are very well done!!!! Compliments…. we call them Cantucci!!!! Hugs, Flavia

    P.S. tins are beautiful!!!

  2. My mother made the anise biscotti every year when I was growing up. But we always called them Anise Slices! Never knew they were biscotti until I was an adult. Great memories.

  3. Did you make any of the savoryones. Beautiful Marie!

  4. I’m a huge biscotti fan, and yours look grand!

    The cookies don’t look too shabby either.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. I’ll be wielding my electric knife the next time I make biscotti. Like you, the wedding cakes are my favorite (and were mom’s). I have been wanting to try those ricotta cookies and will have to remember to buy ricotta when I shop. I’m trying Giada’s struffoli this year and want just one other cookie (or else I’ll be eating them!).

  6. They all look SO BEAUTIFUL!!
    Happy Baking and Merry Holiday Cooking Marie!!!! xoxo

  7. I love holiday cookies and all of your recipes look easy to make and delicious! I also saw the ricotta cookies on Claudia’s blog and vowed to make them next time I buy ricotta.

    The chocolate you won in my give away was mailed today by priority mail! Enjoy! :)

  8. Your biscotti look stellar. My recent attempt was less than…

    I have a tip for you and readers. I put biscotti in a plastic bag in the freezer. They don’t totally freeze but are really fresh and crisp…plus they’re out of sight so I really have to go looking for one.

  9. And to think I haven’t even STARTED baking yet! Oy.

    Love the sound of those biscotti, especially the fig and pistachio! Totally going into my rotation this year.

  10. Oh Marie – thanks for the kind shout-out- your ricotta cookies look great – love the lemon theme. I so smiled at the “puffs!” So appropriate! Brings back childhood in the sweetest (only a semi-pun) way.

    I remember your pistachio and fig biscotti.I will not wait another year! Finding fresh pistachios without salt is hard but I shall persevere. And the anise oil must be wonderfully intense – so you have me on a mission before the next snow comes: pistachios and anise oil.

    I think you could bake biscotti for a living! They are picture perfect and Rocco’s bakery in the West Village of NYC would be jealous. Happy baking!

  11. Ravioli, Biscotti, Cappelletti, it’s all delish!
    Happy Merry!

  12. Those look so delicious Marie! I’m going to have to get baking to catch up to you- hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Love to you from west of the Rockies. xoxo

  13. While my mom is still alive, there is little chance of me baking Christmas Cookies, she insists that it is her job. I do make my notes in the secret…

    Happy Christmas dear Marie!!

  14. ANISE BISCOTTI, an absolute favorite of ours, and as for the RICOTTA COOKIES, never have I made these, but it is on my list for the week. Thanks. ;)

  15. Marie I have been doing the same thing. Baking and freezing (I started mid November) so that I can give boxes of cookies to friends and neighbours. Your biscotti look amazing. If and when we ever meet (in Milan or Chicago either is fine by me) I want us to spend an afternoon baking biscotti together!

  16. You turned me on to those fig and pistachio cookies last year and I loved them. I must make them again this year – why do I wait till christmas to do this? I always loved those “puffs” but for some reason, I never seem to get past my Italian cookie repertoire. And Claudia’s ricotta cookies look and sound terrific too – must venture into different terrain.

  17. I want to bake all of these cookies, Marie. We love biscotti and I’ve never added figs and pistachio so this will be a new version for us. We call your puff cookies “snowballs” and have had them at Christmas for as long as I can remember.

  18. Your cookies all look beautiful. I’ve never made biscotti and I think that’s a project I need to take on soon.

    My mother always used to make a selection of cookies every year that included your puff cookies. She called them “meltaways” or “Russian tea cakes”. I miss the days of those cookies.

  19. What could be more Italian than these! Delightful biscotti to eat and share to every guest! What a welcome treat to see your favorite cookies on the holiday table!!! Perfect recipe to follow! Thanks for sharing your baking savvy! Merry Christmas!

  20. It’s smelling good over here I must say!!! ;)

    My sister makes a mean biscotti too! Love them all!!!

    Merry Christmas Marie….

  21. My husband makes ricotta cookies every year (recipe from his uncle) and will give this recipe to him. Yes to the extra lemon!

  22. See, THIS is why I love Christmas! Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies, and yours look divine, Marie. I think our minds have been in tune with each other… I just made 3 dozen biscotti today and am getting ready to post them soon. I love the idea of the pistachio ones, and those ricotta cookies look amazing. They all do. Oh, what’s a few more cookies…

  23. These remind me of my mother-in-law’s recipe. Great variations!

  24. Just stumbled upon your blog…You’ve got a great blog here with so many delicious recipes. I am sure I will visit often, especially because I want to learn more about Italian cooking…:)!

  25. Do you need my UPS shipping address for these? Send to “Foodiewife” c/o Hungry, California. USA
    Fig and pistachio? Stacey gets some, right? These are all sinfully delicious looking. Oh, I’m green.

  26. I haven’t baked at all this season but I am getting inspired to now! Fig and pistachio biscotti sounds just amazing.

  27. Greetings! I just discovered your blog. My goodness, all of your dishes look beautiful and so delicious!!! When I saw “Italian” in your blog name, I KNEW it would be a great place to visit! :) I already copied your two onion recipes. Oh, Lord, do I love onions, it’s ridiculous. Here’s something for you to try: Cut up some onions in big pieces and toss with oil and some Lipton’s Dried Onion Soup Mix, and roast in oven. Trust me, so quick/easy and the dried soup gives it a nice flavor. You could also add some cut up peeled potatoes–which is the recipe they give on the box. ;) [But I love the big pieces of onion added!]
    Have a wonderful holiday and thanks for sharing your recipes!
    Best regards,
    Gloria

  28. Ha! the one thing I haven’t been doing is baking, so I get my fix from you.
    LL

  29. I too made these from Claudia’s blog ~ We loved them!

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