A Basil Harvest: Lemon or Anise Basil Biscotti

| August/September 1996

Makes about 4 dozen

These crunchy, low-fat, rusk-type cookies are fashioned after the Tuscan Biscotti di Prato, but they have an ­unusual added ingredient: basil. I make two versions, one with the traditional anise flavor and the other inspired by the sweet, strong flavor of lemon basil. Try a batch of each.

• About 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• Large pinch salt
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 3 extra-large eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest or 1 teaspoon aniseed, bruised
• Generous 1/2 cup chopped lemon basil or anise basil leaves
• 2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted and ground

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour two baking sheets.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 3 cups of the flour, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the eggs; beat them with a fork in the well. Add the vanilla and the lemon zest and lemon basil or aniseed and anise basil, and stir with a fork; begin incorporating the flour mixture. After you’ve mixed in most of the flour, add the ground almonds and blend well.

3. With the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, flour a flat surface and your hands and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead the dough (it will be sticky), working in the remaining flour and a little more if you must. Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each into a cylinder 2 to 21/2 inches wide. Place the cylinders on one of the prepared baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes.

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