anise-almond biscotti with orange glaze

The inspiration for these was, once again, the island of Milos.  We found something sort of similar to this at a store selling traditional and modern Melian delicacies.  However, I had to change it to suit our budget!

The star of this recipe is the aniseed.  Aniseed is a wonderful flavor that adds depth to sweets – not sweet in itself, it balances the sweeter ingredients well.  The original inspiration used dried cranberries, something way out of our budget (dried cranberries are very expensive in Greece, something like €30/kg in our town; fresh cranberries are completely unavailable).  I use raisins and they work well; I use more aniseed to balance out the sweeter raisins.  You can use cranberries if you like.  Zante currants, however, are the best here, or champagne grape raisins if you can get them.

You can either use slivered almonds like I do or you can just put some whole almonds in a food processor and use the bits.

The word ‘biscotti,’ from which obviously we get the English ‘biscuit,’ means ‘twice-cooked.’  That’s pretty much all you need to know about the technique of making these.  So let’s see how we do it:

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, one egg, and the olive oil.  Stir in the vanilla and orange extracts.

Stir the dry ingredients into the sugar-egg mixture with a wooden spoon in batches.  When about half of the flour is incorporated, stir in the raisins, almonds, and aniseed.

Then stir in the remaining flour.  The dough is very dry and you probably won’t be able to use the spoon toward the end; use your hands to press it all together into a single ball of dough.

Cut the dough in half.  Put a piece of wax paper on a baking sheet and oil the wax paper well.

Form each half of the dough into a rectangle directly on the wax paper.

‘Real’ biscotti usually have an egg-white glaze.  I can’t stomach the thought of wasting an entire egg just to glaze some biscotti.  I brush them with milk and that is completely adequate.

Pop them in the oven for half an hour.

Let them cool on a rack for about ten minutes; leave the oven on.  Slice them on the diagonal into 1/4″ strips.  Arrange them on the baking sheet (you don’t need paper or to oil it this time, they won’t stick) on one side and bake for 5 minutes.  Take them out, turn them over, and put back in for another 5 minutes.

Don’t worry that they’re not ‘crispy.’  They crisp up outside the oven while they cool.  Cool them on a rack.

You can stop at this point; store them in a plastic box and dip in coffee to your heart’s content.  Or you can make a simple glaze to bump up the luxury quotient.

This is basically a cheap royal icing that will dry hard, allowing you to store them stacked (i.e., the glaze won’t rub off one piece onto another).

Stir the powdered sugar into the milk.  Add milk in one teaspoon increments (seriously) until it is all incorporated.  Put the glucose syrup (light corn syrup) and the orange extract into the bowl.

Beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes until incorporated.  Slowly add in milk if needed to achieve desired consistency (you want to be able to drizzle it).

Wait until the biscotti are cool before you glaze them.  Put a piece of wax paper on the counter.  Put the cooling rack (with the biscotti still on it) on the wax paper.  Push the biscotti together so there are no gaps between them.  Using a teaspoon, drizzle the icing over the biscotti.  Allow to set for an hour or two uncovered.  Before you put them away, test with a fingertip to see that the glaze is not sticky.

For another take on anise-almond biscotti, check out Bellacorea’s recipe!

Anise-Almond Biscotti with Orange Glaze

For Biscotti:
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
scant 1/4 tsp salt
1 small or medium egg
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
5 tbsp (i.e., 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp) olive oil
1/4 cup raisins, currants, dried cranberries, champagne grape raisins, or chopped dates
1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds
1.5 tbsp anise seed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/4 cup milk (lowfat is fine)

For Orange Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar, icing sugar)
4 tsp milk (lowfat is fine)
2 tsp glucose syrup (light corn syrup)
1/2 tsp orange extract

To make biscotti:

1.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper; oil the wax paper generously.  Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius / 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, egg, oil, and extracts.

3.  Stir flour into sugar mixture in batches.  When half of flour has been combined, stir in raisins, almonds, and aniseed.  Continue adding flour until all is incorporated; use hands if needed to incorporate.

4.  Cut dough into two equal pieces.  Transfer one half to the wax paper and form with hands into a rectangle.  Repeat with other piece of dough.  Brush top and sides with milk.

5.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven to cooling rack.  Leave oven on.

6.  When cool enough to handle, cut on the diagonal into 1/4″ slices.  Arrange on baking sheet with cut side up.  Bake 5 minutes; take out, turn the pieces over exposing the other cut side, and bake another 5 minutes.

7. Transfer to a rack for at least 1 hour.  If not glazing, store in a plastic container.

To make Orange Glaze:

1.  Mix the sugar into the milk in a mixing bowl.  Add more milk in 1 tsp increments if necessary.

2.  Put the glucose and orange extract in the bowl.  Beat together with an electric mixer for a few minutes, adding milk in 1 tsp increments if necessary to achieve desired drizzling consistency.

3.  Put a piece of wax paper on counter; put the rack with the biscotti over it.  Move the biscotti together so there are few gaps between them.  With a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the biscotti.  Allow to set for 1-2 hours uncovered on rack; test with fingertip that the glaze is not sticky, and transfer to a plastic box or bag for storage.

Nutritional Information
per piece, assuming you get 24 pieces out of the recipe
for each piece without glaze:

131 calories
4g fat (1g saturated, 3g unsaturated)
16g carbohydrate
1g protein
0g dietary fiber
7mg cholesterol (2% DV)
25mg sodium (1% DV)
91mg potassium (3% DV)
Does not contain a significant amount (+10% DV) of any micronutrients.

If you glaze the biscotti, for each piece, add the following:

34 calories
0g fat
9g carbohydrate
0g protein
0g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
1mg sodium (0% DV)
2mg potassium (0% DV)
Does not contain any micronutrients.

Note about the ceramics:  these ceramics are handmade by the pottery artist Ilias Maroulis from the village of Margarites in the region of Mylopotamos near the city of Rethymno in Crete.

You might also like:
Dark chocolate mousse
Vanilla extract
Creamy Melian lazania & a tour of Milos