Christmas cookie baking 2012 is now officially on - starting with a favorite of mine - Anise biscotti. These are great by themselves or jazzed up with a quick dip in dark chocolate after they've been completely baked(twice).
The recipe is from Franco Galli's book The Il Fornaio Baking Book.
2 1/3 cups All Purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 TBSP. anise seeds
1 1/2 c. sliced raw almonds
1 stick (1/4 lb.) butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. anise extract
Additional flour for workarea
Additional butter for baking sheet (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, almonds, salt and anise seeds. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat until the mixture is light, fluffy and pale yellow in color (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and anise extracts. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture one third at a time, beating after each addition until thoroughly incorporated (don't get carried away here of the cookies could turn out tough).
Turn the dough out onto lightly floured work surface using a bowl scraper. Flour or oil your hands with vegetable oil. Divide the dough into four equal (or three if you like bigger biscotti)pieces. Roll each portion into a log 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Line a 12 inch by at least 18 inch baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with butter. Place the dough logs on the baking sheet and with the palm of your hand flatten to about 1/2 inch high. Bake the logs in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes, until light, golden brown (do not overbrown the bottoms). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so until they are cool enough to be handled. Leave the oven at 375F.
Transfer the cooled logs to a cuting surface, with a sharp knife, cut them on a slight diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange the cut pieces cut side up, on a baking sheet. Return the cookies to the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets before serving. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to two weeks. (If they last that long, LOL)