My passion for sweets flavored with anise must be credited to my Zio Mimi who would drive from our hometown of Borgia into the La Sila Mountains to buy Calabrese black anise seeds, renowned for their delicate black licorice flavor. Almost impossible to find stateside, the recipe for Anise Biscotti was developed with the flavor of those anise seeds in mind. Anise Biscotti is an elegant homage to that memory and pairs perfectly with an intense espresso.
To approximate the flavor of the famed Calabrian black anise seeds I substitute the green variety that are easily found here. Lightly toasting the seeds in a skillet on top of the stove accentuates the flavor and fills the kitchen with a fennel-like aroma. Once the scent of anise permeates the room, spill the toasted anise seeds onto a clean plate or counter to prevent burning.
A bottle of Anisette or Sambuca, clear anise-flavored liquors, can be found in almost every Italian-American home and is generally served after dinner with or in a nice espresso. Adding a bit of either of these enhances the anise flavor in the biscotti just enough without overpowering the flavor.
Have you ever noticed how the butter in you refrigerator sometimes takes on the flavor of something you may have stored? Adding flavoring elements like citrus peel, spices, seeds, liquor or extracts to the butter at the early stages of a recipe always elevates the flavors in whatever you may be baking. Keep this in mind whenever you are baking and adjust the steps to accommodate your flavoring elements.
This is the ideal cookie to have on hand for friends who stop in for a chat, espresso, or cup of tea. I also like to serve Anise Biscotti with seasonal fruit or gelato. Whatever you preference, Anise Biscotti will become a favorite of yours as well.
Looking for some new recipes to add to your holiday cookie bake?
- Anginetti Cookies
- Pistachio Brittle – Croccante del Pistacchio
- Sesame Croccante / Brittle – Croccante di Sesamo
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- ⅓ cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs. Anisette or clear Sambuca
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbs. anise seeds lightly toasted in a skillet
- 2¼ cup of all purpose flour
- 1½ tsp. of baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 to 4 Tbs. of turbinado sugar
- ⅓ cup of heavy cream
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the freshly grated nutmeg to the dry ingredients
- Place the butter and lemon peel into the work bowl of a standing mixer and beat until fluffy on medium-high speed. Continue to beat the butter, gradually adding the sugar, Anisette or Sambuca, vanilla and anise seeds.
- Add the eggs one at a time for 1 minute each, scraping down after each egg; be sure to scrape down to the bottom of the bowl.
- Remove the work bowl from the mixer and add the dry ingredients by hand using a large spatula. Combine well to be sure that no trace of the dry ingredients appears, however do not over mix the dough.
- Lay three lengths of plastic wrap on the counter, each about 18 inches in length. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and form a log of dough about 2 to 3 inches wide in the center of each piece of plastic wrap. Smooth the dough logs with your fingers dampened with cold water, do not leave any residual water on the biscotti dough. Wrap the logs with the plastic wrap, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and into the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325º and have the oven rack positioned in the upper and middle third of the oven; line two cookie sheets with parchment. Unwrap the refrigerated biscotti dough and lay two logs on one of the baking sheets about 4 inches apart. Lay the third log on the second baking sheet. Brush the uncooked dough with the heavy cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the logs are golden brown and firm to the touch. Midway through the baking process, reverse the baking sheets from front to back while switching shelves. Remove from the oven to completely cool on wire racks.
- Preheat the oven to 275 º. Once the logs are completely cooled begin to slice into biscotti, one log at a time. Lay the baked log on a cutting board and using a serrated knife with a pressing motion cut into ½ inch diagonal slices. Lay the sliced biscotti back on the parchment lined baking sheet to oven dry for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before storing in an airtight container.
Hi, I just adore biscotti with anise seeds!! How much flour do you add in…I do not see it listed. Thank-you for sharing 🙂
Marisa, thank you for pointing out my silly omission which I have since corrected, 2 1/4 cups of flour. If you are an anise seed lover, give these a try and please let me know how you liked them.
Ciao Chow Linda says
What a great tip to toast the anise seeds before baking with them. I’m a big fan of anise biscotti and these look delicious.
These are absolutely one of my favorite anise cookies, I guess is was the after dinner Anisette growing up. The light toasting really makes a difference. Thanks for your lovely comment Linda.
A friend of mine was traveling in Calabria and was on the hunt for black anise seeds which I was unfamiliar with. She did bring some home and was going to make some cookie that she grew up with. Your biscotti look scrumptious!
I have never been able to buy them in the United States however, they are available in a few places in London. Honestly, until I was an adult I had no idea that there were green anise seeds. How lucky for you to have such a friend. My next trip, I am coming home with a kilo. Thanks so much!
I love biscotti, and those laced with a bit of anisette most of all, believe it or not, I’ve not gotten around to making them at home… Will have to rectify that very soon!
Well I’m so glad this post reminded you of your favorite biscotti.
Have you ever tried grinding the toasted anise seed? Or substituting anise extract or anise oil?
Excellent question Gail – I have used pure anise extract in a pinch, however I have not thought of grinding the seeds. This is an excellent idea, especially for those who do not enjoy whole seeds. I intend to give it a t ry, thank you so much for the suggestion.
OK, I’m going to try grinding the anise seeds after I toast them. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I look forward to hearing Gail!
OK, I tried grinding the seeds, but some of the flavor was lost. Then I tried replacing seeds with anise extract, but I don’t think i used enough. I used 1 tbsp. for the 2 tbsp. of seed. Believe it or not, it’s not enough. I think I may try anise oil next. The ratio for that is one quarter of the amount of extract, so a bit less than a tsp.
Gail, are you interested in becoming my permanent research assistant? This is excellent information for myself and the readers, thank you for sharing. A presto, P
Is there a big different between the black aniseed and the green? I’m not going to London anytime soon, but I am going to Paris in May. Do you think they can be found there? It’s possible to get them here, but they’re very expensive, like $65/ounce. See blackaniseeds.com
Of all the biscotti I bake at Christmas, my children always prefer the anise and sesame biscotti, then the butter cookies ,etc.!!
Paula Barbarito Levitt says
Your children have excellent palates Jennie – Happy Holidays from La Bella Sorella. Thank you for commenting!
Can you please explain turbinara sugar