There’s that one memory everyone has of Christmas. A holiday tradition from childhood that you look forward to each year. For me, it has always been our Italian Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s because of the traditions; feast of seven fishes, midnight mass, opening presents at midnight, and all the delicious Italian food and desserts. Maybe it’s because It’s the holiday that my dad always truly enjoyed celebrating. Each year, just the two of us would venture out and pick out a tree from the nursery. Including those that were too large and towering over in our living room, sure to fall over.
I always tell my husband Adam that he’s lucky he married me, because it means he gets to celebrate an Italian christmas. And if you’ve ever met my Nonna, she would remind you how everyone wants to be Italian.
My Nonna has now lived in Canada longer than she lived in Italy. Still, Nonna is steadfast Italian, in every way one can be. She watches the Italian channel, buys shoes Made in Italy, only eats Italian food (except for their favourite Chinese restaurant), and she has a Pope calendar (I mean – I did buy it for her when we were in Italy, but it was replacing this years Pope calendar for next years).
When I was asked by Whole Foods to create a recipe for #MyHolidayTradish – I knew it had to be something Italian. I love the traditions we celebrate at christmas and I want to keep those traditions going. Mastering my Nonna’s biscotti recipe is top on the list.
I called my Nonna Saturday morning to ask her for her biscotti recipe. The first thing she asked me was, “Didn’t I already give to you?” – which was probably true. I’m sure it’s scratched down somewhere on a piece of paper. But when I couldn’t’ find it, I figured it was faster to call her up and ask for it again rather than keep looking. And truthfully, I always like asking Nonna for her recipes, having her translate over the phone, always asking herself questions like “teaspoon? no, no tablespoon. How you say?”
Biscotti is an italian christmas staple. Really, an anytime staple. However, growing up, christmas was always marked by the baking of biscotti, stored in her cookie tins – and my brother and I sneaking as many as we could off of the tray before dinner on christmas eve.
Some things haven’t changed.
My Nonna will always be the ultimate biscotti baker, however, I think mine are pretty dang close. I did substitute coconut oil for the vegetable oil she uses, and I really think it works great. You can’t taste it, and I feel better about using coconut oil. She also uses more eggs than others I’ve seen, and I think this accounts for the soft cookie texture and hard exterior.
Here’s where I find most biscotti recipes differ, and why they’re not as successful. Most recipes I’ve seen say to chill the dough, or work it into a log and shape it. According to my Nonna’s recipe, you use a spoon and do it ‘little by little’ onto the baking dish. I think she’s right – being born in Italy and all. No need for chilling the dough, or rolling it into a log. This will create a tougher cookie, and you want one that has a nice crumb.
Note – this is half of her recipe. It makes quite a few, but feel free to double it.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs. + 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- To toast almonds, heat them on medium pan and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
- In small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
- In medium sized bowl whisk together the sugar, coconut oil, eggs and lemon zest. You can use a hand-held blender or whisk.
- Slowly add in the flour. If you're using a hand-blender mix on low slowly. If using a whisk, switch to spatula and fold in flour.
- Add Almonds and combine.
- The dough will be sticky, and not firm.
- Divide into thirds - You will bake three 'logs'
- On a lined baking sheet, spoon the dough out to form two long logs. *note* Do not use hands, it will be sticky and this will overwork the dough. Instead, use a spoon and divide batter onto prepared baking dish to form two - 10 to 12 inch-long X 2 or 3 inch-wide X 1 1/2 inch thick logs - spacing about 2 inches apart. They don’t expand much, so it’s ok if they are close to the edge of the baking sheet. You will have enough for a third log.
- Bake the logs until they’re golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the logs completely on the sheet on a wire rack, about 10-15 minutes.
- While the first batch cools, bake the third log.
- Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife and cut logs into 1/2-inch-wide slices on a diagonal.
- Arrange the slices cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and continue baking about 8-10 more minutes, just until they’re starting to brown.
- Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and cool.
- Store on the counter for up to 1 week. Or store them in the freezer for months.
This post was sponsored by Whole Foods Market in collaboration with their #MyHolidayTradish campaign to share my holiday food memories.