Italian Biscotti

By |2018-08-04T23:06:44+00:00December 20th, 2014|Cookies, Desserts|131 Comments
Italian Biscotti
Italian Biscotti
Italian Biscotti

This is the other biscotti…


I say “other” as though I might have made reference to it in the past, but I haven’t. This is Italian Biscotti, a name that simply means “Italian cookie*,” but in our house, it only means this Italian cookie.

It’s the “other” biscotti because it’s the only biscotti I make that is not a crispy, crunchy, waiting to be dunked biscotti  like Chocolate Toffee Biscotti This biscotti is soft and tender and has a light, pillowy texture.  You won’t need to dunk it.  It’s a perfect little cookie all on its own.

*Biscotti specifically means “twice baked,” but in modern Italian, can also refer to any cookie or cracker.



I may also be so bold as to say that it’s the best soft Italian Biscotti that I’ve ever made or eaten.  Sometimes they are too dense, or too dry and crumbly, or they don’t have enough flavor… but this one…ahhh, this one…is perfect.

I’ve been making them since high school, after I discovered them at a friend’s house.  During the holidays, she would open up tins and tins of homemade Christmas cookies and send me home with a plateful for my family; this one stood out to me.

I think the recipe came from her grandmother and she was generous enough to share it with me.  It’s like an Italian version of the best frosted vanilla sugar cookie, but with a fluffier texture.


I had planned to make a double batch this year because the few cookies that end up as part of a cookie tray never seem to be enough, no matter how many other cookies are on the tray.

Everyone always asks if I could put just a few more of this one on their plate next time.  A double batch would be certain to satisfy everyone’s need for a “just a few more.”


And then I started a blog (!) and found out how much longer it takes to make a recipe when you’re shooting or videotaping every step and then moving food and trays to where the best lighting is and then moving them back so you can finish making it and, and…well, the double batch never happened.

In fact, the 1400 cookies and candies I usually make for the season didn’t happen either.  I made as many different kinds as usual, sixteen to be exact,  just no doubles, triples or quadruple batches.

But, maybe this will be the right amount.  Perhaps I won’t end up with hundreds of other cookies still in my freezer in January when almost no one wants “just a few more” anything because they’ve just made their New Year’s resolutions.

Then, we’re kind of stuck with a lot of leftover cookies #crymeariver.  This year is different.  I’m here with a prized recipe, colorful pictures and more video (yay!) but no extra cookies (boo!)

This recipe mixes up easily in one bowl.  Cream your butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla then flour and baking powder.  Done!

If I weren’t writing this post, I would be mixing up a batch right now.  No refrigeration necessary, just move directly to the shaping step.



You may have seen this cookie shaped into little mounds or knots, but I prefer to make little twists with it.  I think that’s how my friend used to make it and I think it’s very pretty that way.  For years, I would scoop out a spoonful of dough and roll it into a log for each individual cookie.

Then I decided there must be a better way, so now I take bigger scoops of dough and roll them into longer logs and cut them into many lengths; this makes the process much faster.

Each log is rolled until it’s about the thickness of your pinky finger, about a 1/2 inch. then cut into about 5″ lengths. Pick each section up, bring the two ends together, then twist twice and place on your ungreased baking sheet.

Once you get going, it doesn’t take that long and your effort will be well rewarded.  I’m going slowly in the video and it still doesn’t take that long.

You’ll bake them until they’re set but before the edges brown.  When you turn them over, they’ll just have the slightest hint of brown on the bottom.


After they’re cool, I dip them in a bowl of vanilla icing then decorate with rainbow sprinkles.

I recorded my dip and scrape process with the icing, and while I’m sure you don’t need a visual of the sprinkle process, I included it anyway, because it’s the fun part, the part my kids love to do.  (And they got their chance once we finished recording.)


Now they are beautiful, festive, iced and sprinkled twists, ready to brighten up your cookie trays.


If you love a good iced vanilla cookie, this recipe is for you.  Once you try this soft, tender cookie,


you’ll agree that it’s definitely different than all the “others.”


4.34 from 6 votes

Italian Biscotti

Servings 4 -5 dozen


For the cookie:

  • 3/4 cup salted butter 1 1/2 sticks
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the icing and decoration:

  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons or more of water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • rainbow sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds or until softened.
  3. Add sugars and beat until combined.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  5. Add flour and baking powder and mix on low until combined.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, take a scoop of dough and roll out into a long log about 1/2" thick (about the size of your pinky finger.) You want just enough flour so that the dough doesn't stick to your surface, but you want it to hug it a little so you can roll it out. Too much flour will make the surface too slick and your dough will just slide instead of roll.
  7. Cut long roll into 5" lengths. If you have an extra bit of dough at the end that isn't long enough, just put it aside and roll with the next scoop.
  8. Take one 5" section, bring ends together and twist twice (see video.) Place on your cookie sheet about an inch and a half to two inches apart.
  9. Bake for 6-10 minutes until cookie is set and firm but not browning around the edges. Mine took about 8 minutes.
  10. Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  11. Make your icing. Mix confectioner's sugar, vanilla and enough water to get a good drizzling consistency.
  12. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper (for easier clean up later.)
  13. Dip the top of each cooled cookie into the icing, scraping the excess off on the side of the bowl before placing onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  14. After you've dipped a few cookies, stop to add your sprinkles before the icing hardens, then continue dipping and sprinkling until all cookies are decorated.
  15. Allow icing to set.

Recipe Notes

*If you'll be packing them up to store, let icing set for a few hours until firm. Then layer between sheets of wax paper and store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or you can freeze for up to 3 months.

*Yes, I freeze them iced. I've tried freezing them without icing, but icing small plates of cookies every time I need them is too inefficient for me. You may experience some running of colors from the sprinkles into the icing, but this could happen even if you don't freeze them.

Recipe from a friend's grandmother

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2014


By |2018-08-04T23:06:44+00:00December 20th, 2014|Cookies, Desserts|131 Comments


  1. ATasteOfMadness December 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Italian biscotto? I am both intrigued and want all of this right now! This looks amazing!

    • Ramona December 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      This cookie has a long list of fans…you might as well try them and join the group :)

    • Giovanna perles November 7, 2016 at 7:27 am - Reply

      I’ve been making this cookie for years is the most delicious cookie ever

      • Ramona November 7, 2016 at 9:01 am - Reply

        Yes, Giovanna! It’s well loved by all!

  2. Tasbih @ Cleobuttera December 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    These look amazing! They speak to me way more than traditional biscotti with the fluffy texture. The sprinkles just give them that festive confetti look that I’m a sucker for!! And whoooaaaa…VIDEOS!! Thats huge! Great production. I enjoyed every bit:)

    • Ramona December 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by to check them out, Tasbih!

  3. Jennifer C December 21, 2014 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Yummy!!!!!! Wish some of those where on my kitchen table right now….

  4. Kelly Randall January 11, 2016 at 8:19 am - Reply

    The word “Biscotti” means ” baked two times”. This recipe looks delicious, but probably needs a better name…didn’t see the second bake, or did I miss it?!

    • Ramona January 11, 2016 at 9:06 am - Reply

      You are correct, “biscotti” does mean baked two times, but in modern Italian, it can refer to any cookie or cracker. This recipe came from my friend’s Italian grandmother and I simply carried on the name that she gave it. I made sure I was clear that this was not a twice baked biscotti within the post,but I will go back to add more clarity should it cause confusion for anyone. If you are looking for a twice baked biscotti, check out Chocolate Toffee Biscotti. It is twice baked and delicious.

    • Kelly Randall January 11, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Well, even if this isn’t traditional Biscotti, it looks darling and delicious !!! Thanks for clarifying !

  5. Joy February 13, 2016 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Hi! My grandmother made these cookies all the time. Its was passed down from her mother, and is a hit in our Italian family.
    I have her recipe, but was just curious to see if others called a cookie like this biscotti, (my hand me down recipe called them cream biscotti) and I found your recipe. Its very similar. She always made a long log, then cut them like small pillows. Do you by chance remember your friends name? It would be fun to see if its a family member of mine. I have family in Nebraska and Colorado, that I know makes these too. Thanks for sharing your recipe!! Happy to see that the cookie I so love is also known as biscotti to others.

    • Ramona February 14, 2016 at 7:52 am - Reply

      Hi Joy! It’s so nice to hear that this cookie is a long standing tradition in your family too! My friend’s family is based in Ohio, so I don’t know if there would be any connection. I like the the idea of cutting them into small pillows. I can just picture their cute puffy shape! I also love the name, “Cream Biscotti.” They do have a creamy quality and certainly gives one the impression that this is not a twice baked biscotti. Thanks for sharing the history you have with this cookie :)

    • Sarah December 13, 2016 at 10:25 am - Reply

      Hi Joy, how do you cut them into pillows? I have been looking to replicate a cookie I’ve had an Italian friend’s baby shower but to no avail. Her family calls them Biscotti’s and of course that brings up every cookie every. Ramona’s recipe seems like it might be very similar. I have a picture of them but don’t see a way to attach so I can show you. Any help you all have would be appreciated!

      • Ramona December 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm - Reply

        Sarah, I don’t know if this is the exact answer…but in case Joy doesn’t see your question…if I were to cut them into pillows, I think I would make a slightly thicker long roll and then just cut them into shorter lengths to create that pillow shape.

        • Lyn December 20, 2016 at 2:57 pm - Reply

          The cookie that you cut into little “pillows” are called struffoli, and they are deep fried. After cooling they are covered in honey and the little sprinkles. Usually they are presented in a big mound on the plate. My Mother made these every year for Christmas.

          • Ramona December 20, 2016 at 5:09 pm

            Thanks for your clarification Lyn. The struffoli sound amazing!

  6. Lorraine March 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    These are my new favorite cookie to make and to eat! They turned out fabulous on my first try and will be my family’s new tradition. They were gobbled up at work in record time. Thanks again for this wonderful recipe.

    • Ramona March 26, 2016 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      I love hearing that kind of feedback! :) I’m so happy you found a tasty new tradition!

  7. Frank April 2, 2016 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    We make this style cookie with Anise oil every Christmas, an Italian tradition. Great with espresso or red wine!

    • Ramona April 2, 2016 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      I love anise! I definitely have to try that with this recipe! Thanks, Frank!

      • Betty November 23, 2016 at 10:52 am - Reply

        they are called Chumbeleets with the Anise . have been in our family for long, long time. Only make them at Easter and Xmas

        • Ramona November 23, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

          Betty, I love that name, “Chumbeleets” I’ve never heard of it before. I really want to try a batch with the anise. I know I would love them :)

        • Lisa April 14, 2017 at 1:48 pm - Reply

          These have been made in my family also-and always with anise, sometimes lemon. When I think of Italian Easter cookies, I think of these!

          • Ramona April 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm

            I’m excited to try a lemon version. I hope to post one soon. I’ve only had these cookies at Christmas. I definitely need to make them more than once a year:)

    • Jennifer Giambelluca Stone December 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      I make them with anise also. That’s how my Sicilian grandmother from the old country made them?

      • Ramona December 11, 2016 at 8:18 pm - Reply

        So many readers make them with anise! I definitely have to get on the stick and make that version as well :)

  8. Rosina Morrone-Reeves April 15, 2016 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Hi Ramona,

    Between my Sicilian and Calabrese family there are a few versions of this wonderful cookie which finds their way to decorating the most wonderful sweet tables at our showers and weddings. Your version looks beautiful and I am anxious to try it!

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Ramona April 15, 2016 at 11:46 am - Reply

      Rosina, I’d love for you to try it and let me know how it compares to all of the other wonderful versions your family makes!

  9. Theresa Vuono June 18, 2016 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Amazing! I have never seen these online. I love these!! My grandmother Taught us from a very young age how to make these. My children & nieces have created memories making these. The only difference is we used anise or almond extract in place of vanilla & we call these Tarellas. This is a recipe passed down through the generations for over 100 years, traditional made during Easter. Much like coloring eggs, the children join in making the snakes, with are then tied into knots or shaped into letters.

    • Ramona June 19, 2016 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Theresa, thanks for sharing such lovely memories:) I always make them with vanilla but I LOVE anise and almond flavors and really need to try those too! I know I would love them!

  10. Jacqui July 9, 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    My Italian Grandma would have been proud! Made these this morning. My sweet husbands reply…these are better than your Grandmas. They are labor intense, but worth every bite! Thanks for sharing! Def a keeper!

    • Ramona July 9, 2016 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      Aww, Jacqui! What a wonderful comment! They are labor intensive, but such a favorite cookie for my family that we just push on through it! I used to roll them one by one individually before I started rolling the long rope and cutting. The individual rolling was far more labor intensive, so now I feel like I have a great short cut! So happy that you and your husband are enjoying them!

  11. Carol Scarcello July 18, 2016 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Your cookies remind me so much of the much-loved Italian wedding cookies that have graced every wedding that I can remember, and there have been many, family and family- friend, from the time I was a very little girl. We devour them!

    • Ramona July 18, 2016 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Carol, one of the very best things about this post (besides the delicious cookies) is hearing about the lovely memories it evokes for those that read it. Thanks so much for stopping by to share yours!

  12. Donna August 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    We call these Biscuitta. I made them this morning and used the same non parcels as you did. They are my favorites!

    • Ramona August 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      “Biscuitta!” Love it!

  13. Vickie Dwyer August 14, 2016 at 11:32 am - Reply

    This looks like a cookie my Sicilian family has made for years called viscottes. We also make a cookie called Tatu.

    • Ramona August 14, 2016 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      They both sound delicious!

  14. Vickie Carnovale August 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I come from the Southern part of Italy and this type of cookie is called ‘Taralli’. We typically make these ’round’ resembling a donut. The only difference from your recipe to mine is that I use Oil instead of butter. The reason for this is because butter was not available in this part of the country.

    • Ramona August 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Vickie, I’ve had Taralli before. At least I think I have. They were shaped like a donut, flavored with fennel seed and I loved them! Interesting that you make them with oil instead of butter. I may have to experiment with that :)

    • Darlene December 8, 2016 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      My Grandmom is from Sicily and they called them Viscotti. Meaning once baked Italian Christmas or Easter cookies.

  15. Amy August 30, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Just wondering… Do these freeze well?? Thanks

    • Ramona August 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      They do freeze well. I freeze them iced and sprinkled, but the sprinkles bleed when they’re stored like that. I bake ALOT of cookies during the holidays and I just don’t have the time to ice the cookies each time I make a tray, so I deal with the color running. It doesn’t affect the flavor or texture. They’re still favorites, but truly, the best way to freeze them is plain (not iced) then ice and decorate when you’re ready to take them out of the freezer. Most iced cookie recipe will recommend that you freeze before icing. I just personally choose to break that rule:)

  16. Marge September 7, 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Can you form them any other way? I don’t have a lot of time and would like to try these. Thanks!

    • Ramona September 7, 2016 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      I think some people just roll them into balls. Would that work better for you?

  17. Nancy September 13, 2016 at 10:29 am - Reply

    I made these cookies and the dough did not roll. It kept separating. I wonder if the altitude in Colorado has anything to do with it? What can you suggest that I do to the recipe?

    • Ramona September 13, 2016 at 10:52 am - Reply

      When I make these cookies, the dough is as easy to roll as play dough, perhaps a little softer and stickier, though. Unfortunately, I am no expert in high altitude baking and apparently, there are differences based on different altitudes. Here’s a link that gives some tips on adjustments to make. Depending upon your altitude, there are adjustments to sugar, flour and liquid as well as leaveners. Scroll down to the section about cookies and I think you’ll get some great tips there. I hope it works out for you. Please come back and let me know what you tried and how it worked out. It will be a great help for other high altitude bakers.

  18. Carol G October 17, 2016 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Ramona,

    I make a version of these for every cookie tray, wedding or baby shower that comes along. Coming from an Italian family, they’re a “must make that always goes over so well. My recipe is a little different from yours-looking forward to giving this one a try.

    • Ramona October 17, 2016 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      I usually make a ton of cookies at Christmas. With the blog now, it’s gotten harder to whip out 1400 cookies, so I’ve been paring back. When I ask my family what cookie they MUST have if I only make a few kinds…this is always at the top of the list. I hope you like it! It’s my fave of all the ones I’ve tried. It’s the most tender and pillowy. Some tend to be too thick/dense and dry. I bet your version is delish :)

      • Vacie November 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

        I love YOUR recipes

        • Ramona November 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

          Vacie, thank you so much! It’s always wonderful to get such nice feedback :)

  19. Luise November 23, 2016 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    These are excellent. Fluffy and soft and a real nice nutty flavour.
    Awesome with a cup of coffee or tea. I will be making these again.

    • Ramona November 23, 2016 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      So glad you’re enjoying them, Luise!

  20. Maria December 3, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    My dough seem more wet than your does what should I do

    • Ramona December 3, 2016 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      Your butter was probably too soft. I would cover it and put it in the refrigerator to firm up and then proceed with rolling the dough.

  21. Darlene December 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I’m Italian and these cookies are called Viscotti. Meaning once baked. They are traditional at Christmas and Easter.

    • Ramona December 8, 2016 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      From all of these comments, I can see that there are many different names for this cookie. Some say, “Unocotto” for once baked. In any case, with any name, they are delicious!

  22. Laura December 10, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Do you or have you ever substituted anise for the vanilla? We just love anise.

    • Ramona December 11, 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Laura, I have not, but other readers have commented that they make an anise version. I think it sounds delicious and plan to try it someday. I would probably keep the vanilla and then add the anise. Or maybe cut the vanilla in half and then add the anise. I’m not sure how others do it, but that would be my plan.

  23. Anna December 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    These are the cookies my mother used to make. Sicilian lemon cookies, called Taralucci. We used to twist them like this too.

    I love to see my mom’s and many other mama’s recipes on social media. I used to have a blog called Divainthakitchen, where I posted the recipe. I have them on my Facebook page. Divainthakitchen

    They look delicious!

    God bless.

    • Ramona December 11, 2016 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Anna, Thanks for stopping by to add to all the lovely traditions that others are sharing. So many have shared that they make them with anise, I love that you make them with lemon too! I actually had planned to try a lemon version sometime in the future, not even knowing that it’s something that’s already been made. I figured I want to try versions that would give the recipe life throughout the year.

      • Anna De Bartolo December 12, 2016 at 5:35 pm - Reply

        I will send you the recipe!

        • Ramona December 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm - Reply

          That’s so kind of you! Thank you!

      • Anna December 19, 2016 at 10:28 pm - Reply

        Hi Ramona!

        How are you?

        Do you put your cookie dough in the fridge?

        • Ramona December 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm - Reply

          Anna, I have been busy baking cookies!!! I think I’m finally done :) For the dough, I usually roll them right after I mix them. (I just made a batch yesterday :) The dough can be a bit sticky, but I just flour my counter and my hands a little and I have no issues. I have also refrigerated it to roll later and that works great as well. So you have options :)

  24. Marie December 12, 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    My mother was born near Naples Italy. She made them every Easter. She called them tarales, and used anise icing. Makes it less sweet w more intense flavor. Hers were round, but no hole in the middle. She also made Easter breads that were twists, and struffoli, so she was busy. Btw, she was k own for her light as air cream puffs w home made custard.❤️

    • Ramona December 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Marie, your mother sounds like a fabulous baker. I’m particularly jealous of those “light as air” cream puffs. I can only imagine how delicious they are :) Cream puffs were one of my mother’s favorite treats!

      • Marie December 17, 2016 at 5:16 pm - Reply

        Making them now. I am not making twists. Do not have time. May try another time. Btw, made the cream puffs. Make custard a day ahead. Use crisco for the puffs, and put them in a HOT oven, 450 . The puffs come out light as air. Will post when I have time.

        • Ramona December 17, 2016 at 11:40 pm - Reply

          Thanks, Marie! Good luck with all of your baking! Today was a big baking day here too!

  25. Bev December 17, 2016 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    I have been looking for this recipe for years. My exhusbands Nanna always made them for Christmas and of course nice her passing I have not had any luck getting the recipe from anyone. I can not wait to try making a batch tomorrow.

    • Ramona December 17, 2016 at 11:48 pm - Reply

      Bev, I don’t think they’ll disappoint. Even if it’s not exactly what you were looking for, it’s still a delicious cookie. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they come out just they way you hope :)

  26. Kathryn December 18, 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

    This is my family’s favourite cookie that my grandmother used to make. We call them genetties. Whenever there is a family gathering, my mom always makes at least 4 batches: one for the function and three for each family to take home.

    • Ramona December 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Your mother has the right idea. Even though there may be 16 other choices on my cookie trays, those who receive them always put in a bid for more of the biscotti. There is just never enough. I’m sure they would all love to have their very own batch to take home :)

  27. Anna December 19, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply


    Hi again! I forgot to give you my mom’s old recipe.


    Enjoy, my friend.

    Buon Natale

    • Ramona December 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anna! I’m excited to add another treasured family recipe to my collection.

      • Anna December 19, 2016 at 11:54 pm - Reply

        No problem Ramona.

        I made your recipe tonight, but with 2 eggs and a teaspoon of olive oil, as a substitute for third egg. The dough came out tough, not pliable enough to roll the dough and make the usual braids. I added a little more oil, but no change….Serves me right for not making certain to have plenty of eggs! Lol

        Any substitute suggestions when there are not enough eggs at hand?

        • Ramona December 20, 2016 at 7:09 am - Reply

          Hi Anna, while there are substitutes for eggs in baking, this is not a recipe that I would use a sub. I believe any substitute would definitely change both the texture and taste of this cookie. You can google egg substitutes for baking and you’ll see applesauce or flax eggs and yes, oil can sub for an egg as well. A teaspoon of olive oil would not have added enough moisture to the dough. An egg is around 1/4 cup, depending upon the size, so your dough was missing a good 1/4 cup of liquid, which is why you didn’t find the dough pliable. You certainly can try any of these substitutions but I think they will really detract from the integrity of the cookie. I’m sorry you were missing the last egg and hope you’ll get to try it again when you’re back in stock.

  28. Andrew December 23, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I’m really glad you posted this; it brings back good holiday memories! I thank you for doing so.

    My father’s mother, a first generation Sicilian, used to make a cookie which she called ‘Biscotti’. These were pillow shaped, about the size of my thumb, stiff, crumbly, and tasted of anise. Sadly, the family recipe has been lost. Now-a-days we miss both my grandmother and her Biscotti, especially around Christmas time. The image of the sprinkles resting neatly on the frosting takes me back to my childhood visits to the East Coast. Shortly after arriving at my grandparent’s house, I would go looking for those cookies, usually finding them in a round tin that rested on the kitchen counter … at least until the adults got the idea that I might empty the tin all by myself and subsequently placed it someplace less accessible.

    Being something of a jack-of-all-trades, I’ll bake these to bring to family Christmas parties this year; we’ll see if they catch on to the reference. I do wonder, however, what alterations would be needed to convert this soft cookie into a crunchy one like my family remembers?

    • Ramona December 23, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Andrew, I loved reading about your memories. It was so easy to visualize with your wonderful descriptions. As far as this cookie, it is light and soft. I don’t have any tried and true suggestions for you to convert this recipe and be successful. My guess is that the crunchy version has different ratios of fat, sugar and flour and/or it is baked longer and at a lower temperature to dry out the cookie without burning it. I don’t have a slam dunk, work the first time, recipe to give you. This soft version is a favorite with everyone that has tried it, so perhaps just adding some anise to the batter and icing will at least be flavor reminiscent for you and your family. Or, perhaps, one of the many commenters on this post can point you in the right direction. Good luck!

  29. Dwight May 6, 2017 at 8:28 am - Reply

    No salt?

    If you do happen to want to dunk, are they “dunkable”? Can you bake a little longer to become crisp enough to dunk?


    • Ramona May 6, 2017 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Hey Dwight, I always distinguish whether I use salted or unsalted butter in my recipes. This one uses salted, so no additional salt is necessary. For the most part, baking anything longer removes moisture and would make it crispier. So, you could try that. However,this recipe was engineered to be a cakey cookie. Sure, you could dunk it as is, just like you could dunk anything, but it’s not going to hold up like traditional crispy biscotti. I’d like to recommend my Chocolate Toffee Biscotti. It’s perfectly crisp, perfect for dunking and has the ratio and kind of ingredients engineered for a twice baked cookie. It’s a favorite in our house. And when you dunk it, the chocolate gets melty too…just an added bonus!

  30. melissa May 28, 2017 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I just made these with my two young daughters. We all had fun doing it and of course they loved the dipping in icing and sprinkle part. I had to use 4 cups of flour because my dough was just too wet. They turned out great. Will certainly add it to my “go to cookies” to bake list!

    • Ramona May 28, 2017 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Melissa, I’m so glad happy that you and your girls enjoyed them! My kids love helping me make these cookies. I’m surprised that you had to add so much flour, but I’m glad it worked out in the end. Thanks for sharing :)

  31. MaryC July 23, 2017 at 5:23 am - Reply

    These were sooo good! Thinking of adding orange extract to the icing next time

    • Ramona July 23, 2017 at 6:20 am - Reply

      They are, Mary, aren’t they? We love them! And, easy to flavor in different ways. I think orange sound wonderful!

  32. R.Palmiero July 29, 2017 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Ads are annoying. Cannot read your recipes. The ads stop me from going down the page. I see pictures and part of the recipes but not enough to read or print. They constantly freeze the page.

    • Ramona July 30, 2017 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry that you’re not having an ideal viewing experience. We have chosen our publishing network specifically for the best viewing results. We continually test the site and have not experienced your issues. I don’t know what browser you’re using, but try google Chrome or Firefox. That might help.

  33. Becky September 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I am looking for an Italian Cookie that comes out in the shape of a Biscotti but takes like CAKE.
    Any ideas? It is a light color not the rainbow cookie.

    • Ramona September 18, 2017 at 11:27 pm - Reply

      I’m hoping our email exchange got you close to what you were looking for. Your pictures looked great!

  34. Bernadette October 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Have you ever made these with Anise? They remind me of Italian cookies I had with my Nana when I was young.

    • Ramona October 14, 2017 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Hi Bernadette, I love anise, but I have never made these specific cookies with anise. If you read through the comments, there are readers who have had this type of cookie with anise and other flavors. I already have list of variations I’d like to try since I’ve always just made these cookies with vanilla. It seems this cookie brings up a lot of fond memories for my readers. I bet your Nana’s cookies were wonderful!

  35. Sue November 13, 2017 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    OMG! This is the recipe I have been searching for!! A co-worker – some 35 years ago – brought this cookies to work – I got
    the recipe – then it disappeared in one of my moves.

    So glad I came across this – they are wonderful!!!

    • Ramona November 14, 2017 at 5:53 am - Reply

      Thanks, Sue! There’s nothing like finding a long lost, well loved recipe :)

  36. MJ November 26, 2017 at 12:36 am - Reply

    This is the recipe I’ve been searching for! Thank you so much! Just made them as one of the cookies for Thanksgiving and they were a hit! Everyone wants the recipe!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Ramona November 26, 2017 at 11:06 am - Reply

      You are so welcome, MJ! I’m glad you discovered it. It’s truly one of our very favorite cookie recipes!

  37. Vickie November 29, 2017 at 7:44 am - Reply

    I noticed your recipe does not call for any butter or oil, does the cookie still come out soft.

    • Ramona November 29, 2017 at 8:37 am - Reply

      Hi Vickie, it absolutely does call for butter. It’s the first ingredient on the list! :)

  38. Miriam November 30, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Usually, I would soften butter before creaming it with sugar, but it looks like you’re softening it in the mixer. Is there a reason?

    Also, how quickly do these usually cool down? I’d like to do these in my middle school culinary class for a lab, but we only have fifty minutes in a class period.

    They look awesome!

    Thank you!

    • Ramona December 1, 2017 at 7:12 am - Reply

      Hi Miriam, this is a fluffy cookie, so aerating the butter while creaming is important. If the butter is too warm, that will work against you. Check out this article that might provide some additional interesting details on that. I never really timed how long they take to cool, but certainly no more than your average cookie. They are small and not dense, so they might possibly cool faster, but I don’t know if you could mix, roll, bake, cool and decorate within a 50 minute period. After you decorate, then the icing should set, though that never stopped anyone from eating a cookie. In any case, I think it’s tricky. I would think of it like making sugar cookies. If you’ve been able to achieve rolling, cutting, baking, cooling and decorating those in a class, you might have a shot. Or, maybe you can bake the cookies on one day and ice them the next? I hope that helps!

  39. Lori December 10, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    We have a ?? About the 3/4 baking powder. Many of the other recipes like this cookie call for 3 or 4 teaspoon so is 3/4 correct? Doesn’t seem to be enough.

    Can you also tell me if you don’t make this shape can you make these around ? Or do I need a different recipe.

    • Ramona December 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Lori, the recipe is correct as written. I’ve only ever shaped them as a twist, but if you want to make them in another shape, I don’t think that would be a huge issue. I don’t know what you mean by “making these around.” I wouldn’t just drop scoops of dough on a sheet. But if you wanted to make a ring shape, like a doughnut, that would be fine. Or an untwisted log. Just make sure you watch the baking time. Because my cookies are twisted, they might be thicker than whatever shape you’re going after and therefore, might bake slightly longer than a shape that was thinner. You might be looking for a different recipe though, if you’re looking for a specific shape that has lots of baking powder. This one is delicious, though, if you decided to try it!

  40. Lorraine Parente December 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    I am going to try your recipe instead of my family version….main difference being butter instead of oil….there are many schools of though on that. The comment above about the baking powder was my exact concern…especially switching to butter which tends to spread cookies more than oil or shortening does. For every one cup of flour , 1 tsp baking powder is the rule of thumb I have read about in general baking. My family recipe is a 2:1 ratio. I have seen other recipes with much more than that. For this time, I think I will try 2 teaspoons and see what happens.

    • Ramona December 13, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      I’m a fan of experimenting with recipes, so go with your gut and let me know how it turns out, but I’ll reiterate that the baking powder listed is enough. I know the rule of thumb, but that can vary with a recipe. Other ingredients also contribute to leavening including the sugar, the butter and the eggs. Note that the butter isn’t room temperature. It starts cold. Check out this link for more info on that. I’m guessing that since your family recipe is made with oil, and oil has no leavening power, you need to make up for it with additional baking powder. Check out this link on baking powder and cookies. I fear too much baking powder will affect the texture and the taste and even how they look, but you’ll have to see for yourself. My only worry is that you’ll never know how the original recipe turns out if you tweak it before you know what you’re trying to achieve. You might like them as is. As far as spreading, I’ve never had an issue with these cookies spreading too much. I start with cool butter and go from there. If I don’t have time to roll the cookies right away, I’ve refrigerated the dough for a few hours until I can get to it, but mostly, I just mix and roll. You can see the texture of the dough and how it rises from the videos and photos in the post. Good luck with your experiments. I’m interested to hear how it turns out, but I will stand by the fact that this recipe has been made, as is, for generations and has been loved by all who’ve tried it.

  41. sweetiepie1 December 19, 2017 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    These cookies are not the Italian cookies my mother in law made. These were hard to handle and tasteless–too much flour. They taste that flour. Poor recipe.. Will not use again.

    • Ramona December 19, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry they did not work out for you. My guess is that you over measured the flour. I use the spoon and sweep method which weighs about 4.25 ounces per cup. As you can see in the videos, the dough should be very easy to handle and they should definitely not taste of flour. They should be light and cakey and lovely.

  42. Marcie December 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    We made these for Christmas, and they were delicious!!! Followed the recipe exactly, except we added a little more vanilla just because we usually do as its our preference. Made 2 different recipes of this cookie. Both were great. My kids preferred this one, because it was a little softer and a little sweeter. This recipe is definitely a keeper for our family. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Ramona December 27, 2017 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Marcie! Adding more vanilla sounds great to me. My kids love this cookie, too. It’s on the mandatory, must make list for our Christmas baking, that’s for sure!

  43. Sandra January 4, 2018 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    I grew up with these cookies minus the icing sugar topping
    Loved them plain to dunk in coffee
    I would like to make them for my dad who is now diabetic but
    Loves adding cookies to his breakfast
    Do you think I could cut he sugar by half or a third?
    And if so would I need to adjust any other ingredients

    • Ramona January 4, 2018 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Sandra, you really have to experiment. Sugar does much more than add sweetness to a recipe. It also contributes to leavening and tenderness and moisture. I’ve reduced sugar in many recipes by a quarter with generally good results. More than that, and you might not like the outcome. This is a cakey and moist cookie, so drastically reducing the sugar will not only affect the taste, but will likely dry it out. You might want to search for a recipe that has been specifically formulated to be low in sugar.

  44. Ashley Marrs January 9, 2018 at 12:23 am - Reply

    Just made these and they turned out WONDERFUL! I think they will be one of my fav go to cookie recipes! I live in Colorado so I took out one tablespoon of each of the sugars, added extra tablespoon of flour and used barely over 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Took 10 min in a 360 oven and they were perfect!

    • Ramona January 9, 2018 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Hey Ashley! Thanks so much for giving your successful changes for high altitude. I know there are readers out there who will appreciate it. I’m happy you enjoyed the recipe. It’s definitely a fave of ours too!

  45. CJ January 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Marie, just read your comment from December 12 regarding your mother’s cream puffs with homemade custard. Would you be willing to share her recipes? I have a person who dearly loves those things. Kind regards, CJ

  46. Stephie March 27, 2018 at 7:43 am - Reply

    I made these yesterday and I was happy with how they came out. I found the rolling/twisting to be easy. I didn’t feel it was labor intensive and it didn’t take much time to get all the cookies done. I did add a bit more vanilla, and although they are not very flavorful, we enjoy a cookie that we have with tea and coffee that is not overly sweet. I may try some different flavorings next time, as some readers mentioned, such as anise or lemon.

    • Ramona March 27, 2018 at 8:28 am - Reply

      Stephie, Thanks for your comment. Yes, they are not overly sweet, but the icing really balances them out. Inspired by some of my readers’ comments on this post, I did make a lemon version that has become a new favorite. Check out Iced Lemon Pillow Cookies, I think you’ll really enjoy them! We loved them!

  47. Abby July 15, 2018 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Loved it!!!

    • Ramona July 16, 2018 at 10:24 am - Reply

      That’s great to hear, Abby!

  48. Kathleen July 17, 2018 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Ramona, thanks for sharing this recipe. My grandmother came from Sicily and made cookies similar to these and the recipe and tradition has been handed down to my sisters and now our children. I made your version and they are absolutely delicious.

    • Ramona July 18, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      Kathleen, that’s so nice to hear! I’m happy you enjoyed them :)

  49. […] I saved recently purely out of curiosity is this Italian Biscotti recipe. I’ve never had Italian Biscotti, nor have I made it, but it looked like something […]

  50. Jennie Holland August 13, 2018 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I love theses cookies, they are a hit with everyone including my grandchildren. I do have a question, what is the difference between using water vs. milk in the icing? I use water, but i notice that other recipes call for either milk and/or butter. I also just recently learned that using 1/2 butter and 1/2 flavored crisis works well as the cookie keeps its shape, do you find thst this is true?
    Thank you.

    • Ramona August 13, 2018 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      Jennie, I often, but not always, use water in icing just because I’m more conservative on food safety. There’s so much sugar in this simple icing, it’s not really necessary to be concerned, at least not if it’s consumed within a few days; it’s just simply what I do. So feel free to use milk, if you’d prefer. As far as your other question, I’ve never tried subbing out some of the butter for shortening. I really love the taste of the cookie as is and haven’t really found an issue with it keeping shape. You certainly could experiment to see if you prefer the taste and holding power of using 1/2 and 1/2.

  51. Eve August 30, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Just made these and they turned out great! We live at a high altitude so a lot of the time recipes don’t turn out but I didn’t have to make any adjustments for these. They are a good dessert and we enjoy having them with coffee

    • Ramona August 30, 2018 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your success, Eve. It’s great feedback for others who live at high altitudes.

  52. Aaeesha November 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Dear Ramona,
    I’ve tried twice 2make ur biscoti cookies but thé dough wa 2 soft u wrote down in ur recipe3/4 cup butter whig is170 gram and u wrote also 1,5 stick butter but that is only 90gram of butter please measure it on a metric scale and tell m which one of these 2 is the right measurement I guess it is 90Gramm 4not 2 trough it away I put more flour much more flour they turn out good but I don’t think they have u b like the way my came out. Please reply much greetings from far Germany

    • Ramona November 7, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Aaeesha, the correct measurement is 169.5 grams. A stick of butter is 1/2 cup, 4 ounces, or 113 grams. So, 3/4 cup would be 113g + (113/2)g = 169.5 grams. I hope that helps you with your next batch. Once they are baked, they are soft and a little cakey. Good luck!

  53. Stephanie Scaturchio November 12, 2018 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    I made these cookies and we all really liked them! I found the shape different than what I normally make and I wanted to try them just for that reason. They looked nice and tasted great! I came across a recipe on your site for lemon pillow cookies and will try those next. Thank you!

    • Ramona November 14, 2018 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      The Lemon Pillow cookies are a fun lemon version of this cookie. We really enjoyed them!

  54. Anna December 5, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    My mom made every Christmas, but we put lemon zest in ours.

    • Ramona December 6, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Delish! Based on another reader’s comment about lemon, I created these lemon pillow cookies…Sooooo good! I bet your mom’s cookies are wonderful!

  55. Marie December 19, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    These are the biscotti of my childhood. The twice cooked Biscotti are cantucci. I also have a different icing that you might like to try. This icing is also the one from my childhood.
    100g sugar
    11/2 tablespoons water
    Heat the sugar and water together in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point. Pour over the biscuits. With a spatula or with your hands, gently turn the biscuits over and over until the syrup stars to cool and turn white., Be patient as this takes about 8-10 minutes.

    • Ramona December 19, 2018 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      Marie, thank you for your lovely comment. I’d love to try your icing recipe. It sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing :)

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