These Aren’t Your Grandmother’s Biscotti (They’re Your Great-Grandmother’s)

Two sisters spend years perfecting a family recipe.

When most people hear “biscotti,” they think of the dry, crunchy, twice-baked almond biscuits pictured above, packaged and sold from shelves of grocery stores and Starbucks nationwide. But that’s not the biscotti my siblings and I grew up on…

Our great-grandmother (who we lovingly called Nonna) immigrated to the US from the small town of San Fratello, Sicily. After spending several years as a seamstress in a New York City sweatshop, she made her way to Cleveland, where she met and married my great-grandfather, a man who settled via Sicily and, later, the sugar cane fields of Louisiana.

Like my Nonna’s many other Italian recipes, her biscotti were one of a kind. The cooking of her hometown had a slight French influence, so everything – from her baked goods to her sauces – had a bit of a twist; and, while her biscotti were, indeed, oblong biscuits, they were also soft and moist, almost cake-like, and with a thin, transparent layer of icing rubbed across the top.

Our family has always been saddened by the fact that Nona’s biscotti recipe wasn’t properly handed down. She never used precise measurements, but rather “eyeballed” her ingredients: An inch was the length of a pinky finger; a cup was a couple of handfuls. As a result, my sister and I have spent many Christmases and family picnics trying to perfect our version of her biscotti. The recipe below is the closest we’ll ever get. Make it with the people you love and enjoy!


  • 1 Cup of Crisco (Regular Flavor), melted
  • 5 Cups of flour
  • 9 Teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup of milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla
  • Icing (optional): powder sugar mixed with a couple drops of milk (enough to make the sugar a thick soup-like consistency).


Mix all the ingredients together with an electric mixer at low to med-low speed (until dough-like consistency)

Place dough in the refrigerator for about 1 hour

Preheat oven 325 degrees

Grease baking sheet

Cut the dough into smaller sections

Roll each section into a line as thick as your pinky finger

Cut the lines at approximately the length of your pinky finger


Bake Time:
Place biscotti on greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes (until biscotti are golden on top).
Once cool, you can rub a thin layer of icing to each biscotti with your finger.

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