Vanilla biscotti, hot cocoa, and a day of rest: Comfort and joy

[Ed. note: At the risk of being thought un-PC, I’m going to talk about Christmas now. Please feel free to insert your own chosen celebration, if desired.]

Comfort and joy.

What better words to describe this day for the millions of us who celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is the comfort of being at home—whether that home is your own place of residence, a childhood home, or the home-away-from-home that’s your best friend’s.

And Christmas is the joy of what you find inside that home: simply put, love. If you’re lucky, the unconditional love of family and friends. Or the mixed bag of love that so many of us experience: pleasure and worry, with a dollop of hope, a dash of fear, and a pinch of pride, all mixed together.

Christmas is a religious celebration for some, a secular holiday for others. It’s a day off for many; let’s thank all who volunteer to work on Christmas, so that the rest of us can relax at home. If not for policemen patrolling, the gentle care of nurses, and the guy on the corner keeping his store open half a day for that gallon of milk you forgot, we’d all potentially be out of luck.

So today, as you connect once again with those you treasure the most, take a moment to mark the ancient holiday we’re celebrating.

Christmas is comfort. Christmas is joy. Christmas is today.

May this day be filled with laughter and love.

And, late in the evening, raise one last toast to the holiday—with a favorite cookie, and a cup of warm cocoa.

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I love this biscotti recipe. It involves simple ingredients, easy techniques, and is the perfect starting point for developing your own special recipe via the addition of flavored extracts, chips, nuts, and fruits. We start here with butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder.

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Beat until smooth.

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Add the eggs…

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…and beat again until smooth. The mixture will be quite thin.

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Add the flour.

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Mix to make a sticky dough.

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Place the dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Pull and stretch it into a rough log about 14” long.

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Wet your fingers (to cut down on the stickiness), and smooth the biscotti into a 14” x 2 1/2” x 3/4”-tall rectangle.

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A dough scraper run under cold water works well here.

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You don’t have to be crazy about making a perfect rectangle; just give it a good shot.

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See? 3/4” thick.

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Bake the dough in a preheated 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, till it’s set and just beginning to brown around the edges.

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Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, according to whatever else you’re busy doing. Then, when you’re ready to cut the biscotti, spritz the dough lightly with water. This helps cut down on crumbling as you slice.

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Slice the dough about 3/4” thick. If you cut crosswise, you’ll have more, shorter biscotti. Cut on a diagonal for fewer, longer biscotti. The more pronounced the diagonal, the longer the biscotti (and the fewer you’ll get from the recipe).

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See that smooth, intact top crust? The spritz with water really does help you make nice, clean cuts.

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Put the biscotti back onto the baking sheet; standing them upright helps them bake more evenly. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

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Bake till biscotti have darkened slightly across their surface, and are showing some darker brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. They may still feel a bit soft when you press them, but they’ll become crunchy as they cool. Note: if you goofed and cut these wider than 3/4”, they’ll need to bake longer.

Beautiful biscotti! Brew the hot cocoa, find a good book, and RELAX.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Vanilla Biscotti.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Starbucks Vanilla Biscotti, $1.00 each

Bake at home: American-Style Vanilla Biscotti, 18¢ each

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Wendy C.

    Hi! I need to make 300 mini-biscotti cookies (nut free) for a charity tea. I’ve used this recipe successfully in the past and think it will be great for this event, however I’m not sure what adjustments I should make in baking time for the mini-sized loaves (max 1.5 inches wide before baking) and hoping you can make a suggestion. Additionally, I’m wondering what I should substitute for the Almond extract so that I’m keeping it nut free but not sacrificing flavor. Thanks you so much for your help!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Wendy, you might consider replacing the almond extract with 1/4 teaspoon of Fiori di Sicila, which has a lovely floral aroma that combines vanilla bean and citrus. Either that, or simply use the larger amount of vanilla (3 teaspoons). For the baking time, you’ll want to start off making a test batch to ensure you get the texture and appearance you’re looking for. Depending on how large you make your loaves, you may want to start with a 15-18 minute bake followed by a 20 minute bake at 325°F. Use your senses (they should smell toasty and have a golden crust) to let you know when they’ve finished baking. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  2. mary bullock

    I ordered the pan and want to know if I should put the entire amount of dough in the pan or divide in half? Does the baking time change very much?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, your pan will be a good fit for any recipe using 2-2.5 cups of flour, like this one, and it’s easy to use too! Just pat the full batch of biscotti dough into the pan, mounding it in the center. Then bake as the recipe directs, with the only difference being that you’ll want to allow the dough to cool in the pan until you can safely remove it to spritz, slice, etc. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  3. Diane Clarke

    Would this recipe work with KA gluten free flour? Would I substitute measure for measure? I will probably try this, but would love your input.

    Reply
  4. Rita

    Hi I’ve been looking for a recipe like this but the only thing with this recipe is that it tells you what to use but doesn’t tells how much to use. If it’s possible if you can send me the whole recipe with how much and ingredients and directions, please. Thanks. Rita

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      To view the full recipe, click on the orange link below the very first photo of a biscotti that says “American-Style Vanilla Biscotti.” You can also click here to access the full recipe. I hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  5. harveyscohen

    Has anyone tried reducing the sugar? These are beautiful, but a bit sweet for our taste. I’m wondering how much sugar to use next time.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We have not tried reducing the sugar but please try it on your own! Try reducing the sugar by 1 – 1 1/2 ounces to start. Elisabeth@KAF

  6. Marwan

    You mentioned they will be more crunchy and not as less hard as the classic Italian Biscotti, can you please explain what makes it that way, I want learning please, Thank you

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      American-style biscotti are usually softer than their Italian counter parts for a few reasons; they are usually made using more butter and eggs per flour than Italian biscotti, and they are also baked at a lower temperature for less time. The Italian-style biscotti traditionally have ground nuts added to them, which also makes them extra-crunchy. They are usually served so that they are on the brink of being stale, which makes them perfect for soaking in a hot drink. Both are tasty, it just depends whether you are in the soft and chewy camp or the crispy-crunchy! Kye@KAF

  7. Eileen

    These are wonderful and easy to make. I used the KAF biscotti pan. I also added mini chocolate chips.

    Reply

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