Biscotti are classic twice-baked Italian cookies that are first shaped like a slab or flat log and baked, then sliced diagonally and baked again. My grandma’s recipe features vanilla butternut flavoring and chopped walnuts, but read below for tons of flavor and mix-in ideas, which are absolutely limitless! These are so easy to make and perfect for gifting, as well. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite dessert wine and enjoy!
My grandma’s biscotti were treasured by everyone in our family. Growing up, I don’t think there was ever a time that I went to her house and her ceramic cookie jar wasn’t filled to the brim with biscotti. If you just so happened to reach in and grab the last one, not to worry… Grandma would tell you to “go over there on the steps and grab the big tin, there are more in there.”
Because, of course there were.
I’m not sure anyone ate a meal at my grandma’s house without, at some point, sitting down with one or two biscotti on a napkin alongside a cup of coffee.
I wish my grandma were still around and we could sit at her dining room table or mine and chat over a plate of biscotti and cups of coffee. One day.
What are biscotti and how do you make them?
Biscotti are a traditional Italian twice-baked cookie; baking them twice gives them a dry and crunchy consistency, which are perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee (or wine, as they do in Italy!). They were originally twice-baked so that they could be stored for long periods of time without spoiling.
What is considered to be the original Italian recipe includes no fat at all – just flour, eggs, sugar, pine nuts, and almonds. The dough is shaped into slabs and baked, then sliced diagonally and baked again.
However, more modernized recipes (including my grandma’s below) do sometimes include a form of fat, extracts or liquor, baking powder, and at times spices.
Flavor and mix-in variations
One of the unique things that my grandma did with her biscotti was to use butternut flavoring as opposed to the traditional anise. I personally love anise, but my extended family is split at best on it, and I think more people than not dislike it. Since she always aimed to please, my grandma stopped using anise and adopted the vanilla butternut flavoring, which became her signature biscotti flavor.
My grandma would buy the imitation vanilla butter & nut flavoring from the small grocery store in her town, which has since been rebranded as cake batter flavor, but supposedly the formulation is totally the same. You can also use vanilla butternut flavor, but this stuff is concentrated, so follow the directions on the bottle for cutting down how much you use!
The types of flavors you can use are absolutely limitless; here are some ideas:
Extracts such as vanilla, lemon, orange, rum, almond, anise, etc.
Lemon or orange zest
Nuts and Mix-Ins
Feel free to omit the walnuts or use different add-ins:
Other nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, cashews)
Chocolate chips (regular or mini) – dark chocolate, semisweet, milk, white chocolate
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, dates, figs, etc.)
Fun Serving Ideas
If you are gifting biscotti or just want to dress them up for serving, here are a few ideas:
Drizzle with melted chocolate (regular or white, or both!)
Dip one end (or the bottom) in chocolate
After dipping in chocolate, add sprinkles or finely chopped nuts
Tips for gifting
Since biscotti have such a long shelf life, they are a wonderful candidate for gifting and even shipping!
You can give some away in a pretty tin… package them in a resealable plastic bag amid packing material, and ship them off to a loved one… or put some in a clear treat bag and tie with a festive ribbon.
Storage and freezing
Since biscotti are twice-baked, they are crisp by nature and last for a long, long time; my grandma always stored her biscotti in tins at room temperature.
Storage: Biscotti can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.
Freezing: Biscotti can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container and thawed at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, milk, and butternut flavoring, and mix for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until completely combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and baking powder, mixing only until just combined. Give the mixture a final stir with a rubber spatula, and fold in the walnuts (if using).
Divide the dough into four equal pieces and shape each into a log about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide. Place two on each sheet and bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until firm to the touch and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and place the pans on cooling racks for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you can handle the biscotti easily.
Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, slice each log on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Arrange the slices cut side-up on the baking sheets and return to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown (or done to your liking), flipping them halfway through. Allow the biscotti to cool on the baking sheets, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.