makes 3 dozen
¾ tsp whole fennel seeds
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp anise extract
2 tsp orange zest
2 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
½ cup coarsely chopped dried figs (about 10 figs)
Toast fennel seeds by swirling in a small pan for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Add eggs, vanilla, anise extract and orange zest. Whip until light and smooth.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and mix to combine and form a sticky dough. Fold in fennel seeds, hazelnuts and figs. Divide dough into thirds, wrapping each in plastic wrap and shaping into elongated mounds, about 8x2-inches. Chill dough for about an hour.
Place chilled mounds of dough on a large baking sheet, leaving a few inches of space between each. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until just lightly browned. Let cool for about 15 minutes, until set, then, using a serrated knife, slice diagonally into ½-inch-thick biscotti. Arrange on cookie sheet and return to oven at 275 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, turn biscotti over, and continue baking for another 30 minutes.
Tuscan tradition: Although biscotti are most often associated with Italian coffees such as espresso or cappuccino, don’t hesitate to pair them with your favourite red wine.