Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recipe: Mini Anise-flavored Biscotti with Orange Glaze and Chocolate Drizzle

In my last post, I wrote about the collection of spicy, sweet, and salty spices we collected at Penzeys Spices yesterday and mentioned my plans for some of them. While strolling around the store with my dad, I came across various jars of anise—powdered, ground, whole—and my dad said he'd enjoy the black licorice-flavored spice in a sugar cookie, so my thoughts started swirling around recipe ideas. I picked up a small bottle of pure orange extract as we ventured into the baking and pastry section of the store and knew that that flavor paired with black licorice would work well, so I decided to make some sort of cookie with an orange glaze. After searching for "anise cookies" online and seeing biscotti mentioned several times (my final choice is adapted from this recipe), I decided they would be perfect, especially in our house filled with tea and coffee drinkers who love to dip cookies in their drinks. These cookies take a little time to make, but they're perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and they'd look beautiful wrapped up in a basket or bag and given as a house-warming gift or a dessert for a party.

Serves: Many; yields about 80-90 cookies, depending on how small you cut the pieces
Prep. time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 min. - 50 min.
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (pure or light)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. anise seed, crushed or powdered (I used Spanish cracked anise)
  • 3 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Approx. 1 & 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Approx. 1/4 cup milk (2%, 1%, or skim)
  • Approx. 1 tbsp. orange extract (or to taste)
  • Approx. 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli brand)
  • Red and yellow food coloring
  • White sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350*F. Using a mixer or whisking by hand, lightly beat the eggs, then add in the oil, sugar, and anise, mixing lightly to combine. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and almonds and mix to combine. (I used a mixer to do all of this, keeping it on a slow/low setting—it blended the ingredients more easily and more consistently.) The dough will be thick and sticky, but smooth.
Divide the dough into six pieces, lightly flour them, and roll each into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Place the six logs onto two greased or parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until they each are slightly golden-brown and the center is cooked, approx. 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and immediately slice logs into about 1 to 2 inch-thick diagonal pieces (remember, these are mini biscotti, so they'll be about 2-4 inches long and about 1-2 inches wide). Place the tray of pieces back into the oven and bake 5-10 minutes (5 if you want slightly softer cookies, 10 if you want really crunchy/hard cookies). Remove from oven, flip the pieces over so the tops of the cookies are now face down on the tray, and bake another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the cookies back over so the tops are facing up again and let cool on the baking sheets. The cookies will be light-colored or slightly golden brown.

To make the glaze: Put approx. 1 & 1/2 cups of powdered sugar into a small bowl and mix in the milk, stirring until the mixture is a whitish-clear, semi-thick liquid. Add approx. 1 tbsp. orange extract to the mixture and stir. Add more or less of the extract depending on how strong you want the flavor to be—taste it as you mix (using a new spoon each time, of course!) so you get the flavor you want. For the coloring: I added in two drops of red and two drops of yellow food coloring to get a pale, creamy orange color, but if you want a brighter orange, follow the instructions on the food coloring box or simply add more of each color until you get the desired shade. Using a small spoon, drizzle the orange glaze over the cooled biscotti. Sprinkle white sanding sugar over the biscotti while the glaze is still wet to give the cookies a little sparkle.

To make the chocolate drizzle: Put approx. 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips into a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave in short spurts (start off microwaving for about 45 seconds, and work down from there until the mixture is melted and smooth). Be VERY careful not to burn or overcook the chocolate—heating it for shorter amounts of time on lower heat is better. Do not add oil, cream, or water to the mixture. Once melted, drizzle the chocolate, using a small spoon, over the biscotti. Sprinkle more white sanding sugar on top if desired.

These cookies are sweet and crunchy, and the orange glaze and chocolate add a little creaminess to them. Biscotti are able to take on a variety of flavors and toppings to create almost endless flavor combinations— chocolate and mint, caramel, coffee, and cherry, to name a few—so play around with extracts, spices, chocolates, and nuts and berries to see what you like best. I'm planning on making a mixed batch of biscotti during the winter holiday season so I can take them to parties and gift them to friends and family, but they're perfect to keep around the house as snacks. They keep in an air-tight container for at least two weeks, and can be frozen for later use.

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