I’ve mentioned that I’ve been on a wild biscotti making binge lately - 12 flavours, 6 of which are being posted on the blog at the same time!
It started off with me wanted to making 1 of them for the blog, then deciding it would be most efficient to make a few... then just going wild from that.
I’d recently been looking back at my Tornado Smashed Gingerbread House - this year marks 10 years since we went through the whole tornado ordeal.
That inspired me to finally post my Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies to Beyond Flour, my gluten-free blog.
I had to reshoot that one, and had a lot of fun decorating them with several bright colours of royal icing.
The first time around - when we were shooting them for my Beyond Flour cookbook (or was it Beyond Flour 2? I can't remember!), I kind of mailed it in. Only gingerbread men/women, and plain white frosting.
Anyway, was still in the mood for gingerbread - and decorating - so I designed this biscotti recipe!
Like the rest of my biscotti recipes, these are incredibly easy to make - you can mix them by hand, I do!
That said, there ARE a few things to go over that will make the whole process go smoothly.
So, I’m going to go over all of that first - along with some general information, to appease our Google overlords!
If you want to skip that, the recipe is at the end of this post.
What are Biscotti?
Biscotti is a traditional Italian cookie that’s been around for a couple hundred years.
It’s a loose dough baked as a loaf, then sliced up and baked a second time, yielding a very dry, crunchy cookie.
They’re generally served with a beverage, with the intent of it being a cookie to dunk in the beverage.
In Italy, this is typically a fortified wine, served after dinner.
In North America, it’s more of a “with afternoon coffee” thing, though you can really eat them anytime.
In its original form, biscotti was just flour, sugar, eggs and nuts - with no yeast, other leavening agents, or fat.
These days, biscotti recipes can go in different directions, with leaveners, fat, and all/or kinds of other additions added to them. (Though generally not yeast!)
I like to make them fairly close to the traditional base ingredients - with no butter or oil added - but with the addition of baking powder and baking soda as leaveners.
... and all kinds of nonsense when it comes to flavour additions, obviously 🙂
You know, like gingerbread spices, royal icing, and candy to decorate it!
How do you Make Biscotti?
Making biscotti the traditional way is SUPER easy.
You have a bowl of the dry ingredients, and a bowl of eggs and sugar that you’ve beaten together. Mix them together - you can do this by hand! - form them into loaves, and bake.
Then you just slice them up into fingers and bake again - simple!
How do You Serve Biscotti?
As these are made the traditional way - as a VERY dry, crunchy cookie - you definitely want to serve this alongside a beverage to dunk it in!
Try it with coffee, hot chocolate, tea, or hot apple cider.
Or, you know, with fortified wine - as the Italians do!
I really like this biscotti with hot apple cider, coffee, cappuchino, or hot chocolate. Less so with tea, personally.
How Long Does Biscotti Last?
Due to its ingredients and dry finish, biscotti has a much longer shelf life than most cookies.
When kept in an airtight container, expect your biscotti to stay fresh for about 2 weeks.
Note: It doesn’t *spoil* after this, it will just go stale.
Alternately, you can put your (FULLY COOLED!) Biscotti into a freezer bag, suck most of the air out, and freeze it for a few months, if needed.
How to Freeze Biscotti
There are two ways to freeze biscotti:
- Freeze the finished biscotti
- Freeze the biscotti after the first baking / slicing.
Either way, when you’re taking the biscotti out of the freezer:
- If you froze biscotti after the first bake, just proceed with the second bake after they’ve fully thawed.
- If you froze fully cooked biscotti, you can eat them after they’ve thawed, or you can re-toast them.
To re-toast them - really more of a drying than a toasting - arrange them standing up on a baking sheet, rather than on a side.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or so, at 225 F.
Tips for Making this Gingerbread Biscotti
Biscotti may be very easy to make in general, but there are a few things you can do to ensure it goes smoothly:
- The dough will look kind of scraggly after you mix it together; it really does benefit from a LIGHT kneading.
Don’t over-handle it, though - you don’t want to develop the gluten in the same way you do when making bread or pasta.
I like to wear Nitrile Gloves when kneading it / transferring to the pan / forming the loaves.
- Know that the dough is supposed to be sticky once it’s been kneaded together. Don’t add more flour!
- While parchment paper is generally nonstick, this dough WILL stick to it.
If you spray the parchment in your pan before putting the dough on it, you’ll have an easier time forming the loaves.
While pan spray is best for the parchment, wet hands work better for forming the dough than oiled hands do.
I’ll run my (gloved) hands under the tap, shake them off well, and then form the loaves.
How you form the loaves affects the final shape.
If you like long, narrow biscotti, aim for a relatively even thickness when forming your loaves.
If you like more of a curved top to your biscotti, form the loaf so it’s mounded up a bit more in the middle, along the length of the loaf.
Know that the biscotti with get a LOT harder and drier as they cool.
Don’t expect / wait for full hardness when you take them out of the oven after the toasting - if you do, you’ll end up with burnt biscotti in the end.
It really does need to be fully cooled before you add glaze or frosting to it, otherwise you’ll have a big mess on your hands.
Mini Gingerbread Biscotti
Instead of dividing the dough into 2 loaves, divide it into 4 loaves.
When forming them, keep them the same length as you would have, so you have 2 long skinny loaves.
These will require much less in the way of cooking time, so check for doneness at 12 minutes, and bake longer if needed.
Keep an eye on it!
This recipe is for traditional style, VERY crunchy biscotti.
If you’d like softer biscotti, there are two ways you can do this:
The Easy Way
When toasting your sliced biscotti, do 5 minutes per side, rather than 15.
Decrease the eggs by 1.
When starting, instead of mixing the eggs with the sugar, beat the sugar with ¼ cup softened butter, until fluffy.
THEN add the eggs in, and continue with the rest of the recipe.
When doing it this way, let the baked loaves cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.
Sugar Topped Biscotti
You can sprinkle coarse sugar - or coloured sugar - on top of the unbaked loaves, for extra crunch / texture / a pretty finish.
Be sure to pat down slightly on the sugar before baking.
Biscotti - especially holiday themed versions like this recipe - make great holiday gifts!
Not only do they have a great shelf life - and are pretty durable! - they can look really pretty in the packages.
I like to buy long, thin clear plastic baggies, and package 1 biscotti per bag.
Then I tie it off and arrange a selection of these individually packaged biscotti in a gift bag with some tissue paper.
One nice thing about biscotti being so easy to make, is that you can make several varieties at once, and mix / match them for variety packages to gift!
I can make 4-5 batches in a morning, easily. I just make a batch, get it in the oven, and make the next batch while that’s baking.
When the first batch is done, I take it out of the oven, and put the second batch in.
While the second batch is cooking, I slice up the first batch and put it aside, then make the 3rd batch of dough.
I’ll continue this way until all of them have had the first cooking / slicing.
Then I turn the oven down and do the second bake for all of them, in batches.
More Fun Biscotti Recipes
Want to gift a variety of biscotti? Here are a few more recipes!
How to Make Gingerbread Biscotti
Full recipe follows at the end of this post, but here's the pictorial overview:
Preheat oven to 350F, Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with pan spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Pour into the bowl with the dry mixture, stir to combine.
Divide dough in half, form into 2 long, wide loaves on the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Remove from oven, turn heat down to 250F.
Allow loaves to cool for 5 minutes.
Cutting on a slight diagonal, slice each loaf into ½" slices. Arrange slices on the pans.
Bake for 15 minutes, flip each piece over and bake for another 15 minutes, or until desired texture.
Remove from oven, allow to fully cool.
Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. If too thick to drizzle, microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring until runny.
Drizzle over cooled biscotti. Allow glaze to fully harden before transferring biscotti to an airtight container.
Decorating The Biscotti
As pictured, I used royal icing and M & M Minis to decorate these, vs the glaze I’ll sometimes drizzle over it.
The royal icing recipe is below, the glaze drizzle recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Because I tend to gift these - and sometimes have no idea about any potential health issues of the people they may be shared with, from there - I like to make a Meringue Powder based royal icing, rather than use raw egg whites.
It makes it a safer option for pregnant people, young children, and the elderly or immune compromised.
This is a half batch of my regular royal icing, which is still more than you'll need to decorate your biscotti.
2 Cup Icing Sugar
2 tablespoon Meringue Powder
1-2 tablespoon lukewarm water
Combine icing sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer - ideal - or large mixing bowl (to beat with an electric hand mixer)
Add water, mix on low speed until combined.
Turn speed up to high, beat for a couple minutes until thick, smooth, and glossy.
Check the frosting for consistency, adjust as needed for your intended usage. You will want a fairly thick frosting – but still smooth and workable – for piping details*.
If you're not using it immediately, transfer to an airtight container, cover surface with plastic wrap, and secure lid tightly. Re-whip before use.
* A good way to figure out if your frosting is the right consistency is to pull a spoon through the middle of the frosting bowl.
– If the frosting settles out in less than 5 seconds, it’s too runny. Add a little more powdered sugar.
– If the frosting settles out in 5-10 seconds, you’re good to go!
– If the frosting takes longer than 10 seconds to settle, it’s too thick. Add a little water or lemon juice and try again.
I should address the food colouring issue, as it’s something that’s come up OFTEN in baking groups lately:
I do not recommend using Wilton food colouring for red or black, in particular.
I use gel colour for everything - it’s much more concentrated - but this is particularly important when it comes to red and black.
"Christmas Lights" Technique:
Because royal icing hardens quickly, I like to do these in groups of 5 or so at most. It gives you time to set the candy in!
- Pipe swags of black icing across the side of your biscotti.
- Pipe little dots of icing, a little way out from the bottom of your swags. Be sure to leave plenty of room!
Not only do you want room between each candy, you want a bit of room between the candy and the swags.
- Place a M & M Minis (or other) candy on each dot, pressing lightly to secure.
- Pipe a small amount of icing connecting the candy to the swag.
Allow to dry overnight before packaging.
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- 2 ½ c. All-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon Ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground cloves
- 1 cup Dark brown sugar packed
- 4 Large eggs
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup Powdered/Icing/Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Melted butter
- 1 ½ tablespoon Milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Pinch Salt
- Preheat oven to 350F, Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with pan spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Pour into the bowl with the dry mixture, stir to combine.
- Divide dough in half, form into 2 long, wide loaves on the prepared pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Remove from oven, turn heat down to 250F.
- Allow loaves to cool for 5 minutes.
- Cutting on a slight diagonal, slice each loaf into ½" slices.
- Arrange slices on the pans. Bake for 15 minutes, flip each piece over and bake for another 15 minutes, or until desired texture.
- Remove from oven, allow to fully cool.
- Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. If too thick to drizzle, microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring until runny.
- Drizzle over cooled biscotti. Allow glaze to fully harden before transferring biscotti to an airtight container.