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Anise is also called aniseed. It is a flowering plant native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia with a flavor similar to star anise, fennel, and liquorice. Anise is used to flavor food and alcoholic drinks, especially around the Mediterranean.
The whole anise seed is harvested from the fruit of an annual herb of the parsley family. The seed is small and curved, about 0.5 cm long and grayish brown.
Baking with Anise
Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or ground, are used for preparation of teas and tisanes as well as in a wide variety of confectioneries. Black jelly beans, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle are just a few regional treats that include anise.
The Ancient Romans often served spiced cakes with aniseed called mustaceoe at the end of feasts as a digestive. This tradition of serving cake at the end of festivities is the basis for the tradition of serving cake at weddings.
Chocolate Anise Biscotti wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied closed with a string is an appreciated gift for birthday, holidays or just-because. Leave a package on a coworkers desk to encourage and brighten a day.
Because the biscotti freeze well, they are great to make ahead for your holiday cookie tray. Just be sure to wrap well in a freezer safe bag or cookie tin to preserve freshness.
Chocolate Anise Biscotti
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground anise seed
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time.
- Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Add the ground anise seed and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Form the dough into a 16-inch-long, 3-inch-wide log. Transfer the log to the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.
- Place the log on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the cookies cut side down on the baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely.NOTESTo make the biscotti even more special, dip the bottom edge into melted chocolate and allow to cool/harden on a baking rack in the fridge.
To freeze, lay biscotti between layers of waxed paper and store in a plastic freezer container.
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