• 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 30ml sambuca (or any licorice liquor)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 5 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan (for sprinkling, optional)
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp flour

I’ve been fixated on making a savory biscotti, maybe because I associate biscotti’s with the colder months and a hot cup of coffee. Maybe because I find them so mildly sweet and so typically Italian that I can’t get the idea of a savory one out of my head.
Whatever the reason I decided it was time to test one out. I have loads of fresh herbs in my house so it would have been a natural first choice but instead I chose to go with fennel seeds, which I associate with Italian sausage, and parmesan, which I always have on hand. Since I was using fennel seeds in the biscotti it seemed natural to add in some sambuca as well to amp up the anisey flavor. I still miss my nonno (grandfather) tremendously and the second I pulled out the bottle of sambuca, I was instantly hit by an olfactory memory of  the scent there would in the air when he would pour sambuca into his espresso.

Preheat oven to 350F

  • Cream together the butter and sugar, then add in an egg at a time and blend between each addition
  • In a seperate bowl sift the flour, salt and baking powder
  • Toast the fennel seeds on med. heat in a dry pan until fragrant.  Grind barely in a mortar just to open the seeds up a bit.
  • Using a spatula fold flour mix and sambuca into the butter mixture.  Then fold in the parmesan only to combine.
  • Fold in the fennel seeds.
  • On a baking sheet lined with parmechement, set this mixture into the middle of the pan and shape into a 30cm log. (it will seem too slim, but it expands in the oven)
  • Bake for 35 minutes on the middle or top rack of the oven (otherwise the bottom will brown too quickly)
  • Cool completely on a cooling rack
  • Slice into strips either on the bias or straight.  (slice gently or they might crack, a bread knife works great)
Preheat oven to 300F
  • Lay biscotti’s evenly on the baking sheet
  • cook 10minutes on one side
  • Turn biscotti over delicately, sprinkle one end with grated parmesan if desired
  • Bake another 10 minutes.
I had forgotten how fennel seeds and sambuca can make your mouth water after the first bite.  These biscotti were the perfect balance between savory and sweet.  You could really smell the parmesan as it was baking in the oven.  They taste quite similar to a tarali ,which is a great thing in my mind.  They would be as good with a cup of coffee as they would be dunked in a spaghetti sauce and I have a porto jelly I’m dying to try them with.  Although I’m curious to try it in red wine like David Rocco does with tarali…I will try tomorrow.