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 was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Alissa

    Merry Christmas! Well, I thought I was done baking this month. I made pistachio cherry biscottis, cold doughs, baking powder biscuits, soft white dinner rolls, pizza, and chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread. Now you tempt me with my favorite, vanilla biscottis. Actually, almost any biscotti. :) And I didn’t get a Kitchen Aid or a Viking stand mixer for Christmas, so I guess I’ll have to pull out the old bread machine again.

    Thanks so much for all you do. I read your blog all the time and KA is my first resource for new recipes. Of course, I only buy your flours and love the merchandise in the catalog.

    Have a wonderful New Year.

    Thanks for your loyalty, Alissa. And I recommend the biscotti as very easy, and delicious in their simplicity… Happy New year in advance- PJH

    Reply
  2. Lisa @celebrate CREATIVITY

    What a great looking recipe. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making biscotti.

    I just bought your pizelle maker but I will definitely try this biscotti recipe too.

    I’ve bookmarked this site so I can pop in again for more inspiration.

    Happy holidays!

    Wow, we’ve been enjoying pizzelle all day, Lisa… nice vanilla ones. My brother-in-law and I both made them for our Christmas celebration. Enjoy your new toy – PJH

    Reply
  3. Penny

    I do love this biscotti. It’s so easy and not as hard as a rock like some others I’ve tried! I also love that plastic dough scraper. I have one and would have loved to buy some for my friends this Christmas but I was told KAF no longer has them! Yikes! Get them back! It is wonderful on my silicone mat and I never have to worry about cutting to far! Keep up the fantastic work. Lots of people on my Christmas list love you too!

    Hey, Penny – I’ll work on getting those dough scrapers back – mine are wearing out from use!! Glad the biscotti went well for you- PJH

    Reply
  4. Penny

    PJ – do you ever go home?!? Your responses are so quick I can never believe it. I sent a thank you card to KAF after they delivered my last order so quickly! My son had tried to find something for his wife and couldn’t find it anywhere. I told him I knew where to get it. Less than a week later – here it was in freezing Oregon! Thank you Thank you!

    Luckily, Penny, I can access the blog/comment from anywhere, long as I have my laptop an Internet access. So I actually don’t work 24/7-sometimes it just seems like it! Glad your son was able to get just what he wanted form us,and thanks for giving him some good “Mom guidance”- PJH

    Reply
  5. Jennifer

    I’ve been planning to make biscotti for some time, but never found the right recipe – they all seem to have so much _stuff_ in them. Now I’ve got a nice simple one and I’ll make it as soon as I get a chance! BTW, Penny, I just got my first pair of dough scrapers – free at a KAF baking class. The class was fun and the gifts were great! See if they come anywhere near you this year…

    Reply
  6. Ladybaker

    In response to Jennifer’s suggestion of the KAF baking class– does this class ever come to “freezing Oregon”? (I live here too, Penny) I’ve only seen the classes scheduled on the East Coast.

    Please contact julie.christopher@kingarthurflour.com for information about future locations. I know we just ran a class in the San Francisco area this fall, and are running one in Arizona in January, so we do in fact go all over the country. PJH

    Reply
  7. penny

    Actually KAF did have a class here a couple of years ago. It was on the West side of Portland, Tigard maybe. It happened I was on a cruise at the time! Rats! I just feel lucky to get to be part of it this way. I did get one of the dough scrapers one time, I think when I bought a Zo bread machine a few years ago. You can barely see the KAF logo on it by now but I rely on it!

    Reply
  8. Kat

    I just tried the recipe for biscotti and found it incredibly easy to make! I always thought that it would be difficult because of the double baking, but this blog made it easy to tell exactly when it was done. I have to say this Christmas proved to me exactly why NOT to buy off-brand flour and will only be using King Arthur Flour in the future because then things turn out the way they are supposed to. Thank you for the blog and making it easy to figure out exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

    Reply
  9. Pam & Dave

    We just whipped up a batch of delicious vanilla biscotti (to go with coffee from our new fancy coffee maker we received for Christmas). We have been a little intimidated from just reading biscotti recipes, but the step by step pictures gave us the confidence we needed. It was so simple! Thanks!

    Glad you were able to ‘take the leap’ and make the biscotti. I hope they become family favorites.

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

    Reply
  10. Claudia Mosey

    If I were to use the cherry flavor as in your catalog in the vanilla biscotti, how much would you suggest I use?

    I’d suggest 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon, to start; taste the dough, see how strong it tastes… PJH

    Reply
  11. Hannah

    This was the first time I have ever made biscotti and I LOVED it!!! This recipe will definately be made again. I am already thinking of different combinations to put in it:) Also, thanks for all the pictures of the making process – they were very helpful!

    That’s the nice thing about biscotti, Hannah – they’re a blank canvas, waiting for you to add your own combo of chips, fruit, and nuts. Glad they worked well for you- PJH

    Reply
  12. LuAnn

    Happy New Year to Everyone on here and at King Arthur!

    I was just wondering what your thoughts were about using an egg substitute in the biscotti? Does it affect the outcome and if so, what does it change?

    I just found this blog in the last couple days and have already made a list of the stuff I need to purchase from KAF. I also have a huge list of new recipes to try. The pictures are great! I can tell my laptop will be accompanying me into the kitchen! lol

    Thanks for all your hard work helping us to be better bakers!

    P.S. It’s been wayyy to long since you guys have been out on the West Coast. I took your bread making class out here in Edmonds a couple of years ago and it was a blast! Please come back soon :)

    Hi LuAnn – egg substitute should make the biscotti a bit harder, less tender/crunchy. But it should work OK. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog – thanks! And as for the classes, we were just in San Francisco before Christmas, and will be in Arizona in the next few weeks, so we’re in your neck of the woods – more or less – right now… And the classes are different now, we’re including pies and (I think) cookies, as well as bread. Glad you enjoyed them. PJH

    Reply
  13. Gretchen

    I made a batch this New Years, and was pleased, but also a bit confused. I liked the taste, but thought that they were a little more tender than what I’m used to.

    That’s not a bad thing – I don’t want to break a tooth on a cookie! But I suppose that as you add crunchies, it gets less tender, yes?

    Can I add the candied cherries sold at KAF to this, too? I’m thinking cherry pecan would be good.

    Yes, these are American-style biscotti, Gretchen. Try our Traditional Italian Biscotti for something that’s more what you’re used to. “Add crunchies” – not sure what you mean… And yes to the candied cherries, though they’re so “wet,” they might tend to make the biscotti right around them a tiny bit soggy; again, a slight tradeoff, and one I’d make. Have fun – PJH

    Reply
  14. Lorraine

    These biscotti are terrific! After all the holiday baking I wanted a SIMPLE cookie. This is a perfect recipe PJ. I have so many biscotti recipes that bake up very dry and crunchy; traditional Italian. I topped the unbaked biscotti log with vanilla sugar for just a bit more vanilla flavor. Also…to help get the sticky dough on the parchment use a large ice cream scoop to line up the dough and then smooth with a wet bench scraper. I was at a demonstration by Nick Malgieri a few years ago and he made it look so easy with this technique. Thanks for the recipe.

    Glad these biscotti speak to you, Lorraine – I really prefer them to the super-hard Italian version, even though these aren’t traditional at all… PJH

    Reply
  15. Carma

    Spritzing! What a fabulous idea. I’ve been making biscotti for years and this will make a vast improvement on my final product. Thanks.

    Reply
  16. JustPlanePhil

    I just received the new biscotti baking pan and now I can truithfully say,

    “Pie Are Square”

    Hey, tell me that again next March 14… (3.14…?) :) PJH

    Reply
  17. Liz Krummrich

    OMG!! This is so easy and turned out beautifully. The photos were a great help and the spritz of water. I will never forget that. Also the way they baked the second time, this is the first recipe that I have seen them stand up not lay flat. What a great idea. Going to take it to a luncheon on Sunday. Can’t wait. Now I am going to make another batch
    I love KAF

    Thanks for connecting, Liz – sounds like you did an awesome job with these biscotti! PJH

    Reply
  18. svanzutfen

    Making these for the second time today … my family was so happy with them, I am making them as gifts for the season. (This from a gal that used to make bad cookies, even from a mix!) Merry Christmas, PJ and thank you (& everyone at KAF) for all your work. The posts on the blog have been a huge help as I learn to bake.

    That warms my heart…Hard work is SO worth it when we can take someone by the (virtual) hand and say, “Come into the kitchen with me. I’ll help you do this.” Thanks for connecting and sharing your thoughts here- PJH

    Reply
  19. Loretta

    This recipe sounds so good that it will be made this weekend.Is there anyway the picture directions can be printed without the comments? I have grandchildren that are baking now and it would really help them. Thank you and thanks for the comments.
    You can highlight the blog without the comments and “print selection” and it should only give you the recipe blog itself with the photos. ~Amy

    Reply
  20. thurnerbj

    King Arthur flour is a welcome addition to my daily recipe hunts. Thanks for the great info.

    Bev
    We’re so glad we can be part of your day, and your kitchen. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. cwolfpack3

    I have been hunting for a nut-free biscotti recipe. This one looks perfect … thank you again, KAF!

    Enjoy – this is a “plain palette” all ready to be dressed up with your favorite chips, fruit (no nuts!), etc. – or just left as is, which is very tasty. PJH

    Reply
  22. DebLu

    Wondering if you can substitute Fiori di Sicilia and what measurement for just vanilla?
    Also, whether you can add some vanilla bean and/or vanilla paste for extra flavor.
    Thanks!

    Sure, Deb – add as much vanilla as you like. Fiori, depends on how much you like the flavor – anything from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon would be my guess. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, either, Suze – but they keep so well at room temperature, I wouldn’t have any issue just storing them in a bag on the counter until Christmas, at this point. Enjoy – PJH

  23. Lovetobake

    This is an amazing recipe. The only problem I’m having the dough gets cracked in a process of baking. My oven set very accurately on 350F. Approximately after 10 minutes of baking I start seeing the cracks. Does anybody know why would that be happening.

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Our biscotti, too, often cracks on its surface during the bake. Recipes for biscotti that don’t contain oil or butter seem less prone to cracking. Adjusting the fat, eggs and leavening might allow you to make a smooth biscotti. ~Jaydl@KAF

  24. Jerry Federici

    I make biscotti frequently and used this recipe for the first time today. It’s great. Easy to make. The texture of the finished biscotti is perfect. The tip about wetting the warm loaf before cutting it really works. The first batch I made I used vanilla extract. The second I used anise oil which is the flavor I
    normally use.

    Reply
  25. yatyat

    I love the sound of this American version of biscotti (less hard) and I would like to make some as a gift but need to mail it across the atlantic. Would this more tender version hold up well enough for that? If not, would using less butter and baking powder make it possible to mail but still survive the travel? If so, would you have any recommendation regarding the amount of butter & bp? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The American-version of the biscotti recipe is lighter and more tender than traditional Italian biscottis, but it should still hold up in the mail if you package it properly. I would recommend following the recipe as it is written here–it’s such a winner, we don’t want to risk changing it–but for a crispier, more sturdy biscotti, store them uncovered overnight to let them firm up. Wrap in plastic wrap and then put in a rectangular tin, which you can slip into a mailer and send them on their merry way! Your pen pal will be very happy when they arrive. Happy biscotti baking! –Kye@KAF

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