When I was in cooking school in San Francisco, we had to come up with a plated dessert for a final in the senior baking class. For mine, I made strawberry granita layered with frozen zabaglione and biscotti for garnish.
Pastry chef Emily Luchetti had just released her cookbook, Stars Desserts, with recipes of some of her best desserts from the fabled Stars restaurant that just happened to be around the corner from the California Culinary Academy where I was a student. I used her technique for making the twice-baked Italian cookie — and I still do.
The only fat in the recipe is from eggs and egg yolks — no butter, shortening or oil. It’s what gives them their crisp texture.
Bonus Baking Tip: Why is there salt in most cookie recipes? It balances the sweetness. But what salt should you use? Most often, I use table salt because of its finer grain. But if a recipe calls for kosher salt and all you have is table salt, use half the amount called for. Kosher salt is a coarser grain so more of it is needed for the same salty flavor.
Makes about 30 cookies
11/2 cups whole almonds
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
23/4 cups all-purpose flour
12/3 cups sugar
Grated zest of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.
Arrange nuts on baking sheet. Bake until fragrant, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool nuts. Maintain oven temperature.
Whisk eggs, yolks, orange extract and vanilla in a bowl.
Combine flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, anise seeds and salt in a mixer. Add egg mixture. Beat until mixture forms a dough. Stir in almonds.
Divide dough into thirds. Form into logs about 10 inches long. Place 2 logs on one baking sheet and the third on another baking sheet. Bake until logs are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Transfer cookie logs to cutting board. Cut on a slight diagonal into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange on baking sheets. Bake until light golden brown and dry, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
Cookies can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.