As I mentioned in a recent post, in order to give responsible and sustainable gifts this year, I am making gifts to send to family this year. Cookies immediately came to mind, and since I know from my Italian upbringing that biscotti keep well, and are easy to ship, I went with those. Biscotti are so versatile, as they can be flavored in a variety of ways. Plus, who doesn’t love a nice crunchy biscotto dipped in hot coffee, tea or cocoa?

When making gifts for others, I always use the best ingredients, including organic flours and sugars, fair trade chocolate, organic nuts and farm fresh butter and eggs. Although I do not eat cane sugar or wheat flours, it doesn’t mean the recipients of my gifts don’t. So I found a good balance in creating these biscotti – using the best ingredients that I could, but creating cookies that my recipients would love without question. After all, these cookies are gifts to them.

If you don’t have any food allergies, you can easily use this recipe as a base and use whatever you have on hand to accent them with. I have listed some of my favorite combinations below. I also imagine these recipes would lend themselves well to gluten free flours, like oat or coconut flour and maple sugar would also be a fine substitute. I will soon share with you gluten free Venetian style biscotti, made with polenta, my personal favorite.

This recipe I adapted from my favorite cookbook for a sweet tooth – Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina De Palma, of Babbo fame. This book is fantastic, covering everything from cookies to cakes, budini (custards) and fruit. Gina has such a wonderful way with Italian inspired ingredients and this book has many wonderful surprises and flavor combinations to tempt your palate. I recommend getting yourself a copy or put it on your wish list this year! I hear Santa is very obliging when it comes to cookies and sweets. He is an expert and I know for a fact that he likes biscotti dunked in his milk.

Anyway, these biscotti are simple to make, and make a lot – about 4 dozen a batch. So whip up a few batches for some of your favorite people this holiday season!

I have a few more cookie recipes to share with you this year like Limoncello-Lavender La Befana Stars, gluten free Venetian Biscotti and gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free fruit and nut drops with rum!

For more Holiday cookie ideas, from years past check out these posts:

Cuccidata, Sicilian Fig Cookies

Pizzelle, Italian Waffle Cookies

Yule Log Cookies

No Bake Apricot-Coconut Balls (gluten free, dairy free and egg free) + Egg Nog Cookies

Night Before Christmas Mice

Not Cookies, But Certainly Festive:

Yule Log Cake

Limoncello Cupcakes filled w/ Lemon Curd
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Basic Biscotti

INGREDIENTS:

3 ½ cups organic all purpose or spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
4 large farm fresh eggs
2 large ff eggs, plus 1 ff egg white for glaze
½ cups pure granulated cane sugar, plus 1 ½ TBS for glaze
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Optional:

12 oz. (or about 1 ½ cup) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or coconut, or dried fruit
2 TBS pure, fair trade cocoa powder
4 cups nuts, coarsely chopped – pistachio, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, macadamia – mix and match

Some combinations I made were: Chocolate-Pistachio-Hazelnut, Maple-Walnut-Cranberry, Coconut-Macadamia

METHOD:

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt – set aside.

Using an electric mixer beat together eggs, egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until pale and thick – about 2 mins. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the dry ingredients (about ½ cup at a time). Then fold in the optional ingredients, until dough is thoroughly mixed.

Preheat oven to 325 F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using floured hands divide the dough into 5 equal portions. On a floured surface shape each portion of dough into a log about 1 ½ inches in diameter and about 10 inches long. Place logs on baking sheet a few inches apart.

In a small bowl beat egg white until frothy. With a pastry brush, brush each log with egg white and sprinkle with cane sugar, maple sugar, coconut, crushed nuts, etc.

Bake the logs until lightly golden and firm to the touch – about 20 – 25 minutes. Rotate the sheets 180 degrees halfway through baking, to ensure even baking. Allow logs to cool on baking sheets on a wire rack until they are cool to the touch – about 45 minutes.

With a sharp, serrated knife, slice the biscotti slightly on a bias into ¼ inch wide slices. Lay the slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Return to the oven and bake about 20 minutes more. Gina suggests reducing the heat to 200 F for this second toasting, but I found it took much longer than 20 minutes at 200 for the biscotti to firm up and become crispy and dry.

Cool biscotti completely. Can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place for 2 weeks.

Makes about 4 dozen biscotti.

If you would like to join a fun cookie exchange this holiday season, please check out Cynthia over at Cupcake Provocateur!