The Washington Post

Fig and Fennel Spice Biscotti

Fig and Fennel Spice Biscotti 50.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2014 Dec 3, 2014

These fragrant biscotti were inspired by panforte, a dense, spicy Christmas fruit torte that is a specialty of Siena. The dough is rich with spices, toasted hazelnuts and chopped dried figs, and the finished cookies are made even more festive with a drizzle of sweet orange-flavored icing.

Make Ahead: The biscotti will keep for a week in an airtight container stored at room temperature.

50 pieces

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 50 pieces

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups flour, plus more as needed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons crushed toasted fennel seed (see NOTES)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts (see NOTES)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried Calimyrna figs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large eggs, one separated into white and yolk
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or shaved on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • A few drops of half-and-half or milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use the tablespoon of vegetable oil to grease a large baking sheet.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, fennel seed, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat briefly on low speed, then add the hazelnuts and figs; beat briefly, until incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the olive oil, beating until well blended.

Add 2 of the eggs plus 1 egg white, along with the chocolate; beat on medium-low speed to form a soft, somewhat sticky dough.

Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough there and divide it in half. Use a little vegetable oil to moisten your hands, then roll/shape each half into an oval shape. Place them side by side on the baking sheet, then shape each one into a log about 14 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide, leaving about 2 inches of space between them.

Press down on the logs to flatten them a bit. Lightly beat the reserved egg yolk and brush it on top of the logs. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are lightly browned around the edges and just set — they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Gently slide an offset spatula under each loaf to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the loaves cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Transfer the cooled loaves, one at a time, to a cutting board. Use a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife to cut each loaf on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut sides up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary); bake for 10 minutes, then invert the biscotti and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely (they will turn crisp as they cool).

Place the rack with the biscotti over a rimmed baking sheet or a sheet of wax paper.

Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice. Dribble in a few drops of half-and-half or milk, just enough to loosen the icing a bit. Dip the tip of the whisk or a fork into the icing and drizzle the ribbon of icing back and forth over the biscotti. Let the icing set completely before serving or before stacking the biscotti for storage.

NOTES: To toast fennel seed, spread it in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant and browned, gently shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Let cool, then crush them a mortar and pestle, or use a dedicated spice grinder to coarsely grind them.

To toast and skin hazelnuts, spread the shelled nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, or until the skins have begun to crack. Wrap the hot nuts in a clean kitchen towel and let stand for 1 minute. Roll the nuts back and forth in the towel to loosen and rub off the skins. Not all the skins will come off, which is fine.

Recipe Source

From cookbook author and food writer Domenica Marchetti.

Tested by Domenica Marchetti and Susan Liebenow.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per piece: 70

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 4g 6%

Saturated Fat: 1g 5%

Cholesterol: 10mg 3%

Sodium: 15mg 1%

Total Carbohydrates: 10g 3%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 1g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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