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Anise Biscotti

Anise Biscotti
Aniseed is the seed of the anise plant, which is a member of the parsley family. Used whole or ground, aniseed has a sweet aroma and taste reminiscent of licorice. It is a popular addition to many European baked goods, such as these typical Italian biscotti. Aniseed is also one of the flavorings used in anisette, a popular European licorice-flavored liqueur.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room
     temperature
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 tsp. anise extract
  • 1 Tbs. aniseed, crushed
  • 1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Coarse sugar crystals for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Have another ungreased baking sheet on hand.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, anise extract and aniseed and beat until blended.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. The batter should be very soft.

Turn the batter out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one half onto the greased baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter. Place on one side of the sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs. (They will spread as they bake.) Lightly brush the top of each log with some of the egg white and sprinkle with the coarse sugar crystals.

Bake the logs until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs, still on the pan, on the diagonal into slices 1⁄2 inch wide. Carefully turn the slices on their sides and place as many as will fit on the second (ungreased) pan. Keep the remaining slices on the first pan. Return the biscotti to the oven and bake until the edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 48 biscotti.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).