Nonna's Biscotti

Submitted by: Teresa Ruano, Principal Program Analyst, Office of Strategic Communications & Stakeholder Engagement This recipe was my Italian Nonna's. She was a wonderful cook, and many family memories revolve around the huge meals she cooked when we visited Nonna and Pappi in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where both sides of my family are from. My parents came to California in the 1950s, when my dad, who started his career as an engineer, was hired by US Steel for their plant in Pittsburg (no "h"), California. Did you know Pittsburg was named as a nod to Pittsburgh because of their common steel heritage? Dad, who gave up engineering and instead became an elementary school teacher, is also a wonderful cook. Now is in his 80s, he still bakes these, especially around Christmas or extended family visits. They have a more traditional, slightly dense, crunchy texture than the cakier recipes that include butter or oil and leavening. The recipe is now being enjoyed by a third and a fourth generation. I've included his tips and mine in parentheses. 3 large or 4 medium eggs (Dad says he uses 3 extra-large eggs when he buys those) 1 cup sugar 2 tsp. vanilla 2 tsp. brandy 2 tsp. anise extract (I use anise seed when I don't have extract) (A pinch of salt can be added, as can lemon zest, to vary the flavor) 2 1/2 cups flour 1 cup chopped dried fruits or nuts (Or both: golden raisins or currants and almonds are a nice combination. For something fancier, try pistachios and dried cranberries.) Beat eggs. Add sugar, vanilla, brandy, and anise extract. Beat well (a stand mixer works well to make this part fluffy and well-blended.) Add flour and stir just until well mixed. Add fruit and/or nuts and stir. (Batter can be a little sticky rather than firm like a bread dough). Cover and refrigerate dough for an hour or so to firm up the batter. Divide batter in half and shape into oblong or log shapes (about 3–4 inches wide by 6 inches long by 1 inch high) on a chilled, greased cookie sheet. (Parchment, if you have that, works well instead of greasing.) The dough will grow in the oven, so make the logs thinner than you want for the length of the final cookie.) Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees, until firm and light golden brown. Cool when done. With the log on a slight diagonal, cut carefully into slices about 3/4 inches wide. Place sliced cookies on a cookie sheet and brown under a broiler, until lightly toasted on the edges, turning once. Depending on the heat of your broiler, this could be very fast, about one minute on each side. Watch carefully to prevent overbrowning. Cool on a rack and enjoy. These keep fairly well in an airtight container. [Optional: One side of cookie can be dipped into melted chocolate] Makes about 2 dozen cookies.