There’s only one family recipe that I was told not to put on the internet and luckily, it’s not this one. I’ve been eating biscotti for as long as I can remember. When most babies were teething on store-bought baby biscuits, I was teething the Italian way on homemade biscotti. These were a staple at my Nana’s and Grampa’s house growing up and I’ve continued the tradition in our family now. Now, I try to repay the favor and I send a batch of biscotti back to Boston to make sure my Grampa’s cookie jar never goes dry. Here’s to my Grampa, the coolest dude in town (who’s about to turn 96 years old).
This is the second annual Christmas cookie decorating party that Lisa has hosted and I was happy to be apart of it. It’s a tradition often found in the States, but most Brits have never heard of such a thing. I multiplied this recipe by five to make the appropriate amount of dough for the party. Lisa and I rolled, cut out and baked over 150 cookies. There is a debate among what frosting should be used. Butter cream makes for a tastier frosting (which is what we used), however using Royal icing makes for easier decorating and more refined lines. If you are challenged in the decorating department like myself, royal icing is easier. If you are gifted like my sister-in-law, you can stick to the butter cream. Since I’m anal about my cookie decorating, I’ll give you the Royal Icing recipe but you be the judge.
This is adapted from The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer.
- 3 cups (390 grams) All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 cup Butter, softened
- 1 cup (200 grams) Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tbsp Lemon Zest
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated thoroughly, then add the vanilla and lemon zest. Slowly pour into the wet mixture the dry ingredients until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until it is firm, approximately one hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first half of the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Make sure to keep turning the dough as you roll so it does not stick to the surface. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookies and transfer them to the baking sheets until all the dough is finished. Place the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to harden.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until they just start to turn brown on the edges. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
- 4 cups (440 grams) Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
- 3 tbsp (30 grams) Meringue Powder
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla or Almond Extract
- 1/2-3/4 cup water, warm
- Professional Grade Food Coloring (see note below)
In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add 1/2 cup of the water and extract and beat on medium high-speed until glossy and stiff peaks form. Add more water if it’s necessary in order to get the right consistency. Quickly divide the icing into bowls and add food coloring. Transfer the icing into piping bags with appropriate tips and frost immediately (if the bags are plastic and you don’t have/want to use a tip, you can cut off an 1/8 inch of the bag instead).
Note: If you haven’t used professional food coloring before, treat yourself and buy it. You can usually buy them at Williams-Sonoma, Sur la Table and other cooking/baking stores. I guarantee that you will be so pleased with the vibrant colors that you won’t go back to the sad box of four pale colors from the grocery store. In Seattle each color costs $1.95 and I would happily pay double that.