I am suffering from serious cookie overload. Went to a cookie swap yesterday and 1) ate way too many for my own good and 2) brought way too many home for everyone's good. My biggest downfall is anything that isn't chocolate. I love linzer cookies and bars (almost anything with raspberry is right up my alley), those little spritz cookies, especially when they're tinted ludicrous shades of red and green (even blue!), and basic highly decorated sugar cookies. The ones from the refrigerated roll rule. For my part, I contributed biscotti, which I make at least once a month anyway but have a special version I make only at Xmas time. So, without further ado, here is my take on the Italian classic:
Biscotti (basic recipe)
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp light oil (canola, vegetable, olive [not extra virgin])
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease them very well. I recommend Pam if you don't have parchment, as I find it works better than store brands; however, if that's all you have then use it. I don't get paid for the endorsement.
In a large bowl at medium speed, beat sugar with eggs, oil, and pinch of salt until well-blended and silky. Stir baking powder through the two cups of flour and add to egg mixture, still beating on medium. If you have a hand mixer, you will feel the dough start to get stiff and almost unbearable. This is what you want. Stop when the flour is incorporated.
Halve the dough and place half lengthwise down the middle of each sheet. You want a blobby log shape. Sprinkle each blobby log with enough flour to lightly coat it. Flour your hands, too. Shape each blob into a proper log, extending the length of the sheet; I usually pat and shape so they're about four inches wide. Use a pastry brush to brush off the excess flour; a little left on the dough is okay but you don't want it to appear as if you've been checking for fingerprints.
Place the sheets in the preheated oven. Bake for 11 mins then switch the sheets from top to bottom so they brown evenly. Bake for another 11 mins. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 200. Let logs cool completely on sheets. Using a very sharp knife (a mezzaluna works great), slice into biscotti no thicker than ½ to 1 inch in width. Place them on their sides on the sheets and return to oven. Bake for 30 mins then switch sheets from top to bottom and bake for another 30 mins. If they feel dry enough, remove from oven. If not, turn off the heat, open the door, and let them sit until they are just how you like them. They're very forgiving, so if you forget and leave them oh, say, overnight, they won't be ruined. As long as the heat's off.
Fruit & Nut Holiday Biscotti:
Add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp fiori di sicilia flavoring (King Arthur flour sells it) or 1 tsp vanilla to egg, sugar, and oil mixture. Add a handful each of whole almonds (I like them unskinned) and fruitcake fruit (or your favorite mix of dried fruits) with flour. Proceed with rest of recipe.
Nutty White Biscotti:
Add 1 tsp vanilla to egg, sugar, and oil mixture. Add 1 tsp cinnamon to flour, and a handful each of white chocolate chips and walnuts. Proceed with rest of recipe.
You can add almost anything to these but no more than two handfuls total is plenty. If you have very large man hands then you may have to scale back a bit. Have fun and get crazy.