What makes my heart sing are things rustic: long-simmering braises, hearth-style bread, and the traditional Italian cookies known as biscotti. Many years ago, I started giving biscotti as gifts, and it has become a yearly holiday ritual.
There are a couple of reasons why biscotti are such keepers in my repertoire. They’re an inventive departure from more Christmasy-looking cookies, while still being sparkly, festive, and full of delicious nuggets like hazelnuts, candied ginger, and chocolate chunks. Plus, biscotti are smart little cookies: sturdy enough to travel well, arriving at their destination unbroken and as delicious and fragrant as the day you baked them.
If you’ve ever eaten one of those bland wedges labeled “biscotti” at an espresso shop or a bookstore, let me tell you now that mine are entirely different—the recipes that follow will convince you of that. And if you already love biscotti, these could be the best you’ve ever tasted. In any case, I’ve come up with three irresistible versions: chocolate, almond, and a rustic currant-raisin that’s low-fat and lovely dunked in tea, coffee, and even red wine—a personal favorite.
Vary the size and yield as you please
The width of a log of biscotti dough will determine the length of your finished cookie. I’ve chosen the sizes that I think work best for my recipes, but you can vary this according to your preference. (The thinner the slices, the bigger the yield, of course.) These biscotti are thick enough to withstand shipping, but if you’re not sending them anywhere, you can cut them as thin as 1/4 inch and reduce the baking time slightly.