It was an emotional wedding…

Even the cake was in tiers.

I was asked recently to bake some cookies as part of a favor for a wedding related party. I, of course, said YES. How exciting is that? Not only is one of my beautiful friends getting married, but she wants me to help!

Give me a reason, a party, and some food, and I am there!

These cookies were for a Jack and Jill, and they were going to be part of the favors handed out to the guests. I thought this was a superb idea. I mean, how many times have you gone to a wedding-related event and had the favor be sub-par? Surely more times than you care to count. I find, in my vast wedding guest experience, that the best weddings draw on the skills of the friends and family involved. It’s those wonderful personal touches that make the special day unique–like homemade cookies from family recipes, or mini bottles of the couple’s favorite wine with their picture on them.

So, on to the process. There were several other people making cookies for this shindig, so I didn’t want to duplicate. I am Italian, as is the bride, so I wanted to incorporate that. And I also wanted the cookies to be somewhat traditional wedding fare.

I came up with biscotti.

I know. Classic.

I’ve never made biscotti before, but I had a great recipe from my Mimi (my Italian grandmother). Let me tell you, when this lady made desserts, she knew what she was doing. She kicked butt at candies, cookies, cakes, and pies. So, I had to give them a go.

I decided to make two batches of different biscotti and see which I liked better. I started with the traditional almond biscotti. When you go to an Italian wedding, what is always on the table? Jordan Almonds. You know, those pastel, hard candy-coated, almonds that are too sweet and break your teeth? Yeah, those. It wouldn’t be a wedding without them. BUt, since I am not the biggest fan of Jordan Almonds, I interpreted them in another way, by toasting them and putting them into the biscotti.

The second recipe I tried also relies on a traditional Italian flavor: Anise. You know, that subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) licorice flavor? You either love it, or you hate it. I have come to love it. I think I don’t really have a choice at this point. My family puts anise in pizzelles, in anise cookies, in…well, lots of things. I decided to pair the flavor with lemon, to mellow the anise out and freshen the cookie up. It is spring, after all.

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While both biscotti were tasty, there was a clear winner. Can you guess?

Believe it or not, it was the lemon anise. There was just something about them that called to me. I knew they were the clear winner.

I hope the guests enjoy them as much as I did. And if you give them a try, let me know what you think!

Lemon Biscotti
Adapted from Taste of Home

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Ingredients
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
¼ c olive oil, or coconut oil
½ tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4-5 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tsp aniseed, toasted and crushed

Method

  1. Start by toasting your aniseed in a small pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Place the aniseed in a dry pan, and toast until fragrant. Watch them closely so they don’t get too brown. It happens quickly. Remove and allow to cool while you construct the dough.
  2. In a small bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 2 minutes or until thickened.
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  3. Add oil, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix a few times to evenly distribute, and then beat into egg mixture.
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  5. When the flour mixture is just incorporated, beat in lemon peel and aniseed.
  6. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, shape each portion into a 12-in. x 2-in. rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten to 1/2-in. thickness.
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  7. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden and tops begin to crack. Carefully remove to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a cutting board and cut with a serrated knife into scant 3/4-in. slices.
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  9. Place the slices cut side down on ungreased baking sheets.
  10. Bake for 5 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake 5-7 minutes longer or until  golden brown. They will harden as they cool. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.
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