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!



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

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!