Nona’s Biscotti

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Nona Zanocco’s Biscotti has become a staple around our house each Christmas.  This buttery crisp cookie is perfect for a morning coffee with friends around the holidays, and also a wonderful additional to the cookie platter at a holiday party.  The word biscotti means “twice baked,” so although they do take a bit of time to make, these treats are worth the wait it takes to prepare them.

Nona’s Biscotti

Using a stand mixer, place 3 sticks of room temperature butter in the mixing bowl.  Mix until the butter is creamy and smooth.

Add 2 cups of sugar and cream the butter and sugar.

While the mixer is running, add 6 eggs (one at a time).  Then add 1 tablespoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon almond extract.

In a separate bowl, mix together 6 cups flour and 2 tablespoon baking powder.

Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.  Run the mixer until completely combined.

Form logs of dough (roughly 2 inches wide by 12 inches long by 1 inch tall) and place on a greased cookie sheet.

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Bake the logs in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the logs from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, slice the logs into one inch slices.  Spread the slices out and re-bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the slices are just starting to turn golden.

You can serve the cookies as is, or you can drizzle them with a glaze.  (I like to mix a bit of powdered sugar with a touch of almond extract and some milk to make a glaze that I then drizzle over top.  I then top with naturally-colored sprinkles, or lemon or orange zest.)

Enjoy!

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*A note about all my recipes:  I use all organic ingredients, local when available.  I use non-homogenized milk, and all of the dairy we use is from animals raised on pasture. I also use oils that are non-GMO verified.  All our meat is raised locally on organic feed, and our beef is grass-fed, grass-finished.  All our spices and cane sugar are fair-trade certified and purchased through a cooperative.

Fuasa—Italian Easter Bread

We have many food traditions in our house, but the one that reigns supreme is my Nona’s fuasa recipe.  My nona, Madeline Zanocco (the woman in the photograph on the left), emigrated to the United States from Vicenza, Italy.  She had five children, the forth of which was my grandfather.  My grandpa, Angelo Zanocco, decided to take on the role of rebel child in the family because he was only one of Madeline’s five children to marry a non-Italian.  This is why I always chuckle when I think about the fact that it was my German grandmother, Adeline (in the photograph below), who taught me to bake her fuasa recipe, and thus carry on the family tradition of making Italian Easter Bread every spring 🙂

I have been making (and eating) fuasa on Easter Sunday from as far back as I can remember.  The sweet crunchy goodness of the bread is synonymous in my mind with the holiday celebration.  Now that both Nona and my grandmother Addie have both passed on, I have made a point of continuing with the fuasa tradition each Easter.  I have made fuasa with my girls from the first year of their lives (My oldest can be seen in the picture below from 2007, making fuasa for the first time when she was only six months old.), because I find so much value in passing on our family food culture to the next generation.

And when I say I will make fuasa each year without fail, I always think of the year when I decided to triple the fuasa recipe (that means I was making 15 loaves of bread), and my oven broke.  I frantically called around to our friends in the area, but all were already away for the holiday weekend.  So, I packed up by 15 loaves of dough, my hubby, and my 18 month old and drove to Illinois State University where my sister was attending college.  From there I went to her friend’s apartment to bake.  Yes, I was baking 15 loaves of bread, with a toddler, in a college kid’s apartment…while he was having a party!  I’m not sure I was their favorite person that night 🙂  But the fuasa got done none the less.

It has been so fun to see the girls take on more of an active role in the baking of the fuasa each year.  It is truly my hope that they continue this tradition and pass it on to their little ones some day.

Nona’s Fuasa Recipe

2 yeast packets

2 cups milk (scalded then cooled)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons salt

8 egg yolks (save the whites to use on the tops of the loaves before baking)

1 1/2 sticks butter (melted)

9 cups flour

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

Stir yeast into warm milk.  Set aside.  Beat egg yolks, add sugar, salt and flavoring.  Then add the melted butter.  Next add the flour and milk mixture, alternating between each.  Beat until smooth.  Place on floured board and knead.  Place in a large bowl, butter the top of the dough, cover with a damp towel and let rise until double in size.  Knead dough again.  Divide into five pieces, roll out and knot.  Place in greased pans, butter the top of the dough, cover with a damp towel and let rise until double in size.

Beat the egg whites.  Baste the top of each loaf with egg whites, then sprinkle with sugar.  Bake each loaf for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and 15 minutes at 250 degrees.  Enjoy!

I wish each of you a very blessed Easter weekend!