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I first started baking on my own—no mom, no grandma for supervision—in middle school. I made things mostly from a mix of the soon-tattered Moosewood Cookbook that my mother bought when I insisted on becoming a vegetarian, a spiral-bound Fat Free Cooking! cookbook that we had because it was the early 90s, and a stack of old Gourmet magazines. I was a mix of precocious (from-scratch sticky buns for my 7th grade homeroom? Sure!) and old-school; for the longest time I refused to use an electric mixer.
Yup, I made every baked good using a mix of arm power, whisks, wooden spoons, and pastry cutters. It took me forever, but it wasn't the point. Or so I guess—I don't quite remember why I chose this route but I do know that I've maintained a strange annoyance at any recipe that makes me break out the mixer, which is ironic given that includes 90% of recipes that I make now.
Lucky there are recipes like this one. Traditional Italian biscotti don't include butter, which means that you can easily whip eggs and sugar into their proper creamy, lightened state using a hand whisk. I added a good 1/2 cup of pine nuts to the basic recipe, with some lemon zest and lemon juice to counteract their richness. As a result, these biscotti are a mix of sweet, crunchy, rich, and palate-perking.
I make these biscotti in two sizes: what I like to call American (i.e. the 4-inchers you see in the photo) and a more petite and "Italian" version that's just two inches or so high. The latter are especially nice when included in a cookie plate or tied up in individual cellophane bags as a party favor.
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