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As far as I know there isn’t any particular Christmas association with biscotti, but I do include it in my Christmas baking just because it’s easy to make and most people like it. I’ve had lots of commercially-made biscotti but they are usually too sweet and flavorless for my tastes.

These go well with a cup of coffee, tea, or red wine, or alongside a simple dessert like ice cream or pudding. This is slightly adapted from Lindsey Shere’s recipe in Chez Panisse Desserts.

Amaretto-anise Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup almond slivers or whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Toast the almonds in a small frying pan over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until they are just lightly browned. Remove from the pan, let cool, and chop.

Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and cream mixture again. Beat in the Amaretto, anise extract, and aniseed. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat them in until just mixed. Stir in the almonds.

With your hands, make sausagelike rolls of the dough about 1″ in diameter and lay them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool about 5 minutes, then slice them diagonally about 1/2″ thick. Turn slices on their sides and bake another 5 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

There are plenty of variations with this recipe: use brandy, grappa, or other liquor; use lemon or orange juice and peel; use vanilla extract, rum extract or almond extract, and so on. I made a lovely variation once using Boyajian lemon oil and lemon zest… dream up your own.

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Hachiya persimmon.

Persimmons are ripe and widely available at Christmastime, though many people are unfamiliar with them.  They are native to Asia and grown worldwide, and are especially popular in the eastern United States and California – but they seem to have slipped past the Midwestern US somehow. They’re beautiful intensely-orange globes that can be eaten raw or made into desserts, but they must be ripe or they are unbelievably mouth-puckering.  Though there are many varieties, the main types are Fuyu, which is a squat, flattened sphere, and can be eaten raw – it’s good sliced into salads; the other type is the Hachiya, which is heart-shaped and must be fully ripe before eating. When completely ripe, it’s very jellylike – or as a friend said, “it’s a bag of snot.”


Fuyu persimmon.

If your persimmons are softening but not quite snotlike  ripe, here’s what to do. Slice peeled and seeded persimmons into a saucepan, add enough water to keep them from sticking.  and cook about 25 minutes over medium heat, then puree in a blender or food processor.

My mother didn’t like persimmon cookies until I made this recipe, and it’s by far the best persimmon cookie I’ve ever tried. The last time I made this, I used 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup golden raisins (which had been rinsed thoroughly in boiling water) – just because I thought I wouldn’t have enough dates for all the baking happening that day. It worked beautifully.

This is from Sunset Magazine.

Persimmon Bars with Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup persimmon puree
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salad oil
  • 1 cup pitted dates, snipped into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Stir baking soda into persimmon puree.

In a large bowl, beat together egg, sugar, oil, and dates.

In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; add to date mixture alternately with persimmon puree, stirring just until blended. Stir in nuts.

Spread batter in greased and floured 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean, 25-40 minutes.

Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then spread with lemon glaze.

Lemon glaze

Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.


2 responses »

  1. The persimmon bars sound delightful! Actually, there is a persimmon native to the US. I ate it as a child:


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