My mother Dolores adds a cup of mini chocolate chips to her anise biscotti recipe. The unexpected combination of chocolate, fennel, and anise liqueur is delicious.
The dry ingredients
4 cups unbleached white flour
3 to 4 tablespoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
The wet ingredients
1-ounce anise extract
1/3 cup Sambuca liqueur*
1 cup sweet unsalted butter, cut into pieces
To make the cookie dough
In a large mixing bowl whisk the anise seeds, baking powder, chocolate chips, flour, salt, and sugar.
Drop the butter into the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter, potato masher or your hands to blend the butter into the flour mixture until all crumbs are evenly formed.
Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy then add the anise extract and Sambuca. Continue to stir until fully incorporated.
Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture. Add the eggs, anise extract, and Sambuca. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball kneading until the dough is not sticky. Leave the dry crumbs on the bottom of the bowl. Splash in drops of Sambuca if necessary to form into a ball of dough.
To shape the cookies
Cover the kitchen counter with a sheet of parchment paper. Scoop a hand-full of flour on the parchment paper. Drop the dough on the parchment paper and divide into thirds. Roll into a log shape about the length of a baking sheet. Wrap each log in plastic and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
To bake the cookies
Heat the oven to 350° F. and slide the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line 2 shallow baking sheets with parchment paper.
Discard the plastic from the dough and center on the baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
Reduce oven heat to 300° F. Slice the cookies on the diagonal with a sharp bread knife or electric carving knife. Cook again until brown on all sides. Cool. Store in an air-tight container.
Anise biscotti can be made in a food processor or an electric mixer, however, this classic Italian hand-made technique is my favorite and I think this method tastes best.
*If using a blender, leave the Sambuca out of the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients then blend. Splash in drops of Sambuca gradually until the dough forms into a ball.
Butter instead of Crisco, liqueur instead of milk.