Sunday, November 18, 2007

Biscotti alla Mamma/Mamma's Biscotti

I still am not quite emotionally ready to write in detail about my mother, or "mamma" as I called her in our closest moments. Her recent death feels like a weight hanging on me. I can say, though, that the creation of Apples & Thyme has felt like exactly what I needed to help me process certain thoughts. My mother's passion was cooking; in the kitchen is where she glowed. Helping me to remember those times and images of her in her "element" is enabling me to overcome the sad images of the painful last years of her life.

Like my grandmothers, and probably like most of your female predecessors, my mom loved to bake cookies at the holidays. I have so many memories of making Christmas cookies with her, and in fact still have her old Betty Crocker Cookie Book that we used over and over again! This is the only time of year when I am motivated to bake cookies (not having much of a sweet tooth.) I remember giving my mom a biscotti recipe years ago, and that simple recipe blossomed into a whole repertoire of various types of biscotti coming from her kitchen. While going through her recipes, which is a library full, we found 17 collected biscotti recipes, not counting the ones in all the cookbooks. I found the original, which was always my favorite and I decided to make it this particularly foggy, cool Sunday. This is a trial run for the holidays. Since they turned out delicioso, I now know what I will be making to give to all the neighbors and our mail delivery person for holiday gifts.
Biscotti alla Mamma (modified just a bit to my taste!)
makes 30-40 biscotti

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped, roasted hazelnuts (you can use blanched or toasted almonds here, and if so, you can add 1 tsp. almond extract if you like, too.)
3 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together sugar, butter, brandy, extract(s). Add eggs and nuts.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt and then add to wet ingredients.
Mix well.
Lightly butter a baking sheet.
Shape dough into two loaves about 2-3" wide and 9-10" long.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until set to about a cake-like texture.
Remove from oven and let cool until the logs can be handled.
Cut in 1/2" diagonal slices. Lay flat on baking sheet and return to oven.
Bake for about 12 minutes (still at 350 degrees), then turn cookies.
Bake another 7-10 minutes until golden brown, or until toasted to your preference.

Here is the important part. Enjoy warm with a well-made espresso for an afternoon snack, just like I just did. While dipping your biscotti, think warm, wonderful, comforting thoughts of your mother, and smile at your fortune of having a mother!
This is my early entry for our December Apples & Thyme event. Entries are not due until December 10th. See my last post for all the entry details, and stop by co-hosts blog, Vanielje Kitchen to see the other half of the entries when they are posted on the 15th.


Chris said...

Lovely post. Biscotti has always been a staple in our home and is a great memory for me. Thanks for sharing this!

My Melange said...

Jeni, thanks for the recipe. I love biscotti. I wish you the strength you need to get thru this time. Remember, your Mom will *always* be with you!!

katiez said...

I've never made biscotti - now I am really tempted; it looks wonderful and I could use a sweet with my afternoon cuppa.
Like you I only bake cookies at Christmas - we just don't need the sweets.
My mother, on the other hand baked cookies and pies all the time - any reason was good enough... rain, shine, clouds...

Susan said...

A very sweet post, Jeni. I love peaking into that vintage recipe page. It is so special. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Jeni, These look so good! nice and crunchy, just the way I like them!
( I'm not a dipper)

The Passionate Palate said...

Chris - You are most welcome. I think it will become a new staple in our home.

My Melange - Thank you for those comforting words.

Katie - I hope you will be tempted to try this. I forgot to mention how good they are with a glass of Italian Vin Santo too!

Susan - thank you for your appreciation.

Proud - not even in Vin Santo?!

african vanielje said...

Hi Bella, I'm taking a break from redesign and your mother has come to the rescue. I'm going to make biscotti and perhaps I can think better with a cup of espresso and something to nibble on.

African Kelli said...

This is such a sweet entry and a beautiful tribute to your mama. I'm certain she's tickled pink!

The Passionate Palate said...

AV - Hope you enjoyed them!

Kelli - I hope so!!!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I have made an exception to that!!

Dhanggit said...

such a touching made me think of all those moments that my mom used to shine in her kitchen too...everytime i will eat biscotti i will think of this lovely post you had:-) and thanks for the recipe i will surely try this

Chloe said...

Thank you for sharing this special recipe. I’ve never made biscotti, but that just might change now.

sognatrice said...

Lovely post. I've never made biscotti either...hmm....

And "yeah!" for homemade gifts :)

The Passionate Palate said...

Dhanggit - I'm glad you could relate to those feelings and hope you enjoy the recipe.

Chloe - let me know if you like it.

Sognatrice - I can't believe that YOU have never made biscotti! Well, there is a first time for everything, right? ;-)

Laurie Constantino said...

We also had that Betty Crocker Cooky Book and made almost everything in it over the years. I loved it! Your mom's biscotti recipe looks great and you're lucky to be able to summon her up everytime you make these delicious cookies. Thanks for sharing your memories!

The Passionate Palate said...

Laurie - good memories, huh? Thank you!