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Discover a classic Italian Christmas cookie, passed down through 4 generations of Italian kitchens. Kate Taliaferro shares her family's biscotti recipe.

Every year for Christmas, my great-grandmother, then grandmother, and now mother and I make Italian Christmas cookies. We only make them at Christmas time. The cookies are simple but flavorful and my house smells delicious when I make them! This is a classic biscotti recipe that is straight from the old country - Italy. It was my great-grandmother's sister's recipe; she was born in Italy and immigrated to the US in the early 20th Century. Biscotti literally means "twice cooked." You cook the cookie dough in loaves, let them cool a bit, slice them and then toast them.

A word of caution - usually when I "toast" things I tend to burn them so please, minimize the texting, cleaning or other forms of distraction when toasting, unless you also enjoy somewhat over-toasted cookies :-)

Classic Italian Biscotti

2 ¼-2 ½ cups flour
3 eggs
¼ cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ tsp anise extract - Essential! Do not substitute with almond extract
¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup Crisco


Images by Kate Taliaferro (2015)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

If making in your KitchenAid or stand mixer:

Mix shortening and eggs with paddle attachment. Add sugar, anise and vanilla. Add in all 2 1/4 cups of flour and baking powder until smooth (you may need to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour depending on the humidity and altitude - See photo 1). Fold in chopped almonds.

Form into approx. 3 ½ inch wide oblong loaves on a cookie sheet. About 3 to a sheet. Should only be about ½ inch high (See photo 2). They will rise so don’t put too close together (See photo 3).

Bake 15 – 20 minutes. Cool for around 10 minutes then slice on a diagonal and turn on side to toast back in oven (see photo 4).

If using a weaker mixer: Use dough hooks and mix the same was as above. Then, mix in only 2 cups of flour and then knead by hand incorporating the other 1/4 - 1/2 cup flour (this is how Nana (my great-grandmother) did it).

**This recipe may be doubled.**


Image by Kate Taliaferro (2015) 


Serve with coffee, hot chocolate, hot chai tea, or whatever your favorite warm beverage is. These cookies are meant to be dunked and enjoyed with good company.

Buon appetito!

Copyright 2015 Kate Taliaferro
Photos by Kate Taliaferro. All rights reserved.