Biscotti and I go way back. We met inside a rustic Italian farmhouse just outside of Pisa many years ago. The terrible October wind was howling as only the Tuscan wind can, and I’d just finished a long, extravagant meal with new friends. I’d arrived in Italy just two months earlier, and was young and giddy with naïveté. So, when the dessert tray was presented I tried hard to conceal my excitement. Full of Italian delectables - tiramisu, zeppole, biscotti, and tiny amaretti cookies, like jewels, each wrapped in its own pastel paper package - the tray nearly overflowed. Excited as I was, I was also trying hard to feign maturity, so instead of diving right in, I chose one simple biscotto thinking it was the most “modest” choice.
That first bite proved me wrong! The delicate, crumbly texture, which seemed to hold together by magic until quickly dunked into my creamy coffee! The tantalizing crunch of toasted hazelnuts! But the thing I remember most about that first bite was the sudden burst of anise, so unexpected that it immediately conjured up images of childhood summers spent under tangled and twisted oak branches, chewing on lengths of thick, anise-flavored black licorice.
Since my daughter has life-threatening allergies to nuts, I no longer add them to my biscotti. And since we have many friends who are gluten intolerant, I’m constantly searching for a treat that is both nut and gluten free. No easy task, I must say! So I came up with these Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Biscotti to please everyone. I use Arrowhead Mills gluten-free baking mix because it’s free of both nuts and gluten, though any gluten-free mix should work. The kids love the rich, chocolaty flavor, perfect for dipping in a glass of milk, and adults appreciate the subtle hint of anise and coffee. Simply the perfect cookie.
Gluten Free Double Chocolate Biscotti
2 cups Arrowhead Mills gluten free all purpose baking mix
1/4 cup gluten free cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp whole anise seed
1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
pinch of salt
1/2 cup gluten free, nut free chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)
3/4 cup sugar
8 Tbsp (one stick) of butter, softened
1/2 tsp gluten free pure vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl mix the baking mix, cocoa powder, baking powder, anise, coffee, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and toss to coat. In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. The mixture will be dry, but still hold together in your hand. Place half of the dough in a mound on the baking sheet. With your hands, form into a rectangular log that’s approx. 7 inches long by 3 inches wide. Do the same thing with the other half. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the loaves are firm and slightly cracked on top. Remove from the oven (but DO NOT turn the oven off) and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. With a serrated knife, carefully slice the loaves into 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slices back on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes longer, until dry on the outside. Makes about 20 cookies.
Rebecca Hirt is the mother of two children with severe allergies, who strives to show other parents how they can live a beautiful life with food allergies, with recipes and tips on her site Pure and Peanut Free.