American-Style Vanilla Biscotti

Here it is, a biscotti recipe everyone can enjoy — unlike classic Italian biscotti, which are quite hard, these are light and crunchy. Biscotti bake twice rather than once, and thus take a bit longer start-to-finish than normal drop cookies. But the dough is put together exactly like drop cookie dough. And if your kitchen skills include shaping a meatloaf and slicing a loaf of bread, you've got what it takes to make delicious, gorgeous biscotti.
Prep
15 mins
Bake
50 mins to 1 hr
Total
1 hr 5 mins
Yield
30 to 40 biscotti, depending on size
American-Style Vanilla Biscotti

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract (if you're using it), and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.
  4. Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Divide it in half, and shape it into two 9 1/2" x 2" logs, about 3/4" tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here. Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired, pressing it in gently.
  5. Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.
  6. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  7. Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2" to 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal, for fewer, longer biscotti. As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.
  8. Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.
  9. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they'll stay good for weeks.
  10. Yield: 30 to 40 biscotti, depending on size.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Variations: Add up to 2 cups nuts, dried fruit (dried, not fresh), or chips to the dough, along with the flour. Adjust the spice to suit the add-in, if desired; e.g., add 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 cup chopped dried apple and 1 cup diced pecans. Or substitute hazelnut, butter-rum, or your favorite flavor for the vanilla. A classic Italian anise biscotti is made with 1/2 teaspoon anise extract (or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon anise oil, to taste), and 1 tablespoon fennel seeds.
  • Want to bake these in a biscotti pan? Simply press the unbaked dough into the pan, and bake as directed in the recipe. Remove the pan from the oven, and after 15 to 30 minutes loosen the edges of the biscotti log, and carefully turn it out of the pan onto a cutting surface. Let it cool slightly, and proceed with the recipe as directed. Your resulting biscotti will be larger, and the yield will be fewer.