Have a confession to make. Even though I make a lot of muffins, cakes and cookies, these are mostly for the fam but it’s the crunch that gets me. Seriously, the crunchier the better! My favorites tend to be the salty and savory things like chips, rice crackers, crunchy baked green beans (which I am eating right now!) or even cereal. Wish I could say that carrots, celery or red peppers cured these crunch cravings but unfortunately don’t always do the trick. I do try to be healthier by eating baked chips instead of fried or dried vegetables and watching how many handfuls.
Now I don’t always crave salty crunchy things. Often after dinner or in the late morning I crave a sweet crunch. Apples or hard pears can get me by when at work or out and about, but given the choice I’d savor a delicious and crunchy biscotti. I fell in love with these cookies after working in an Italian bakery in high school. The family I worked for was very Italian, the mother from Sicily and the father from Northern Italy. Biscotti is the plural of biscotto meaning “twice-baked”, and are oblong-shaped cookies made dry and crispy and keep well over longer periods of time than your average home made cookies. In Italy they are traditionally served as an after-dinner dessert often dunked in a fortified or sweet wine. Not knowing this on our honeymoon, we were pleasantly surprised to see biscotti served with the wine samples in Tuscany. We were used to sampling wine with a baguette or bread. As the designated driver on most of our wine tasting afternoons I did not complain about this wine pairing!
Now outside of Italy we often see biscotti served with coffee (lattes, espresso or cappuccinos) or black tea. This is how I like to enjoy them, pretty much any time of day! Second confession, I grabbed half of a vegan vanilla biscotti at 6am this morning post my Tracy Anderson streaming workout. I was starving and they were behind the cereal I was getting out for the girls!! So good and only a touch of sweetness! I have been making these for the girls for years! We actually were in this cute coffee bar in Brooklyn when the girls were about a year old. We were fuelling up with our mid-afternoon caffeine drinks and having freshly made biscotti when one of the twins pinched a piece of the biscotti right off my plate. She was teething at the time so the biscuit went straight in her mouth and she began chopping away at it. The second followed suit and we had a new favorite teething biscuit! I went home that night and began experimenting. I make many versions of biscotti but the vanilla version (both gluten-free and with spelt) is my girls’ favorite. The recipe below is more of a mainstream recipe, using spelt flour and eggs but if you have allergies or sensitivities see the MODIFICATION sections for easy swap outs. Though now my kids are now loosing their teeth these are still favorites and I currently love them for the girls’ pm school/camp snack because they travel so well, will last the week, are not full of sugar but still taste like a treat.
An easy, lightly in sweetness cookies that travels well and lasts over a week in the pantry. The recipe can be modified to add in your favorite nuts, dried fruit such cranberries, apricots, cherries or chocolate chunks. Another fun modification is to replace the vanilla extract with anise extract, this give the cookies a hint black-licorice taste.
Yields about 15 large biscotti or 30 smaller cookies.
2 cups spelt
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 free-range organic egg,
½ cup grapeseed oil
4 tbsp non-dairy milk
½ cup natural cane sugar
1 vanilla pod, split & scraped out (or 2 tsp extract)
½ cup almonds or pistachios or dried fruit (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, arrowroot, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, oil and milk.
- Once the seeds have “gelled” stir in the oil, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing until just combined, careful not to over mix the batter. If too dry, add another touch of liquid, just enough to keep the dough together. Stir in almonds, if using.
- Place dough on prepared baking sheet and form into a log, flattening it out to be about four-inches wide and two-inches high. Or divide dough in half and form two smaller loaves. Place in hot oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or lightly golden brown along the edges.
- Remove from oven, set on cooling rack for at least 30-45 minutes or best until cool.
- Once cooled, slice the loaves into one-inch slices, or desired thickness. Place slices cut side down on the baking sheet and return to a hot oven set at 375F. Bake for 10 minutes each side or until golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from oven and set to cool on wire rack.
These can easily be modified for allergies, made gluten-free or vegan. Simple replace the spelt flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour. Substitute 2 chia “eggs” (2 tbsp chia seeds & 6 tbsp warm water) for the organic egg and let sit to “gel” for 5-10 minutes before mixing in a non-dairy milk, oil, sugar and vanilla. For this version you may need to bake the loaf for an additional 5 minutes until the edges are golden brown.