Italians are partial to hard cookies (biscotti). They enjoy dunking them in coffee and wine. Although technically not a cookie, these rustic, savory biscotti are meant to be enjoyed with wine and cheese. They are spiced with black pepper, anise, and sesame seeds. Italian Wine Taralli, which are shaped and boiled briefly before baking, are similar in nature; however, these cookies are much easier to make. I sometimes use them instead of crackers for a cheese plate; in which case, I cut slice them about ¼-inch thick before the second baking. Either way, they are great with wine and cheese.
Note: I prefer using roasted sesame seeds, which can be found in the Asian food section of your supermarket, rather than raw sesame seeds. The roasted variety gives a better flavor. For this recipe I mixed roasted sesame seeds with black sesame seeds.
Wine, Anise, and Black Pepper Biscotti
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Makes: 4 Dozen
2 ½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups semolina flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (or a combination black and roasted sesame seeds)
2 teaspoons whole anise seeds or fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup red wine or white wine at room temperature
1/2 cup olive oil
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup water, at room temperature
1 egg white, beaten
Additional sesame seeds
Make the Dough: Using a whisk, combine the flours with the salt in a large bowl.
Whisk in the remaining dry ingredients including the yeast.
Stir in the liquid ingredients using a wooden spoon until combined.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes.
Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Shape and Bake the Biscotti: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Deflating the dough as little as possible, divide it into 3 parts.
Gently stretch and roll each piece into a log approximately 2-inches in diameter. Place logs on baking sheet 2-inches apart.
Optional: Brush tops with egg white and sprinkle with additional sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes, until tops are lightly colored. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Bake Biscotti the Second Time: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Cut each log into 1/2-inch-wide slices using a serrated knife.
Using the same baking sheet, place each biscotti flat side down and side by side on the sheet. Bake 35 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes until lightly colored. To store, place in a tightly coved container. You can freeze the biscotti up to 3 months.