Wednesday, November 7

Biscotti and My Mother-in-Law

Last week my husband and I went car shopping. The salesman asked if I wanted a car with an Airbag. I said, "No thanks. I already have a mother-in-law."

When I Googled mother-in-law jokes the other day, I was stunned at the number of hits I got. Poor mother-in-laws -- they're doomed -- constantly accused of being meddlesome, manipulative, and opinionated. How many of you get along with your mother-in-laws?

I actually do. And I'm not just saying it because she's one of my most loyal readers (she is) or because she makes the world's most delicious biscotti (she does). We really get along.

It's easy to like my mother-in-law. She sends thoughtful, beautifully hand-written cards; she gives willingly without ever expecting to receive; she doesn't complain, even when she should; and she always has freshly baked goods on her kitchen counter to share, just in case someone should drop by.

Since Jeff and I have lived away for so many years these notes, phone calls, and care packages have been our life-lines to our families.

My mother-in-law's packages are precious -- with decorative stickers, ribbons, and bows, they're almost too pretty to open. But when we do, we're never disappointed.

Take our latest package for Halloween. Nestled between sheets of "trick-or-treat" tissue paper, was a bag full of chocolate-dipped biscotti (my favorite mother-in-law cookie) tied up with a wide black and white checkered ribbon. We even received hand written notes on pumpkin-shaped note paper.

She could send care packages with all of Jeff's favorites, but she would never. She always includes something I love too. How many mother-in-laws do that?

These biscotti were the perfect Halloween treat--definitely better than a Snickers bar. They're great for any time of the year, actually.

That's why I'm submitting them to Lydia of the Perfect Pantry, who five years ago created the Drop In and Decorate: Cookies for Donation program. The concept is simple: Invite friends and family to your house to decorate cookies, then donate them to a group of your choice, such as a senior center. If you'd like more information on how to host your own cookie decorating event, then click here.

Also, if you're not familiar with The Perfect Pantry, then pay Lydia a visit. Her site is a treasure trove of culinary information. With one part great recipes, two parts food history, and three parts genuine enthusiasm, Lydia teaches you about basic pantry ingredients such as brown sugar and ketchup and not-so-basic ones such as tahini and epazote. Plus, she lives in RI, my home state, so she gets a gold star.

This biscotti recipe is from Scialo Brothers Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island. Growing up in an Italian family, it's fair to say that I've eaten a lot of biscotti. These are the best. When you bite into one, the exterior is hard enough to make a crunching sound but soft enough that your teeth sink into the slightly chewy interior. And you'll never have a bite without an almond in it, which is the way it should be.

Oh, and Jeff just said, "Don't forget to them they have to dunk it in their coffee!" You simply must dunk them in hot coffee so the chocolate turns all melty and makes your coffee taste like mocha.

Almond Biscotti
Print recipe only here.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur preferred)
Pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp butter, softened
2 eggs beaten with 3 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole almonds (skins still on)
Egg wash (egg mixed with a little water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, butter, and almonds in the bowl of a stand mixer, or mix by hand in a large bowl. Add the eggs with vanilla as the mixture goes around.

Take the sticky mass out and divide it into sections, rolling each into a log, flattened just a bit, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should wind up with 3 1/2 logs. It's better to split them between two baking sheets because they spread out slightly while baking. Paint with egg wash.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until firm, but not too hard. Begin checking after 30 minutes; it may take up to 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest for several minutes until they are firm enough to slice on the diagonal. Too little resting time will cause them to break apart while slicing; too long of a resting time will make them difficult to cut without a chainsaw.

The number of biscotti will vary depending on the size of the log and how thick you make your slices. My mother-in-law cuts 1-inch wide slices, which yields approximately 30 biscotti.

Chocolate Dip, optional:
The original recipe is for plain almond biscotti, but my mother-in-law made chocolate-dipped ones this time. If you'd like to dip them in chocolate, then pour a 1 pound bag of bittersweet chocolate chips (or chocolate of your choice) in a double boiler over low heat (if it's too hot, it will cook the chocolate). As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, remove it from the heat and stir with a spoon until it becomes silky. Dip the bottom of the biscotti in the chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then place on a rack (with parchment paper or foil underneath it for easy clean-up). You may use a little less or a little more chocolate, depending on how many biscotti you slice. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before removing from rack.

This recipe is from Scialo Brothers Bakery in Providence, RI and was posted by Susan of Food Blogga

A man, his wife, and his mother-in-law went on vacation to the Holy Land. While they were there, the mother-in-law passed away.

The undertaker told them, "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here in the Holy Land for $150."

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your mother-in-law home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and spend only $150?"

The man replied, " 2000 years ago a man died, was buried here, and then three days later he rose from the dead. I can't take that chance."

-from Thrifty Fun

You might also like these Italian specialties:

Italian Pignoli Cookies
Italian Ricotta Pie with Pineapple
Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Lemon
Penne with Italian-American Gravy, Meatballs, and Sausage
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) and Sausage Sandwich with Sharp Provolone

Look! More scrumptious biscotti recipes:

Mandy's Chocolate Hazlenut Biscotti
Haalo's Fig Biscotti
Lynnlu's Pistachio Cherry Biscotti
Garrett's (of Vanilla Garlic) Pumpkin Biscotti (featured at Elise's Simply Recipes)

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Unknown said...

Wow, these look stunning, this is temptation to the extreme for me! You see, I broke my jaw 2... no almost 3 years ago. My diet got pretty much back to normal quite a long time ago of course, but crusty bread only came back on the menu earlier this year, and biscotti? well... But these look sooo good! And I'm sure it's all just psychological for me now. I think it might just be time to give them a try again with your great looking recipe :)

Stella said...

Lucky lady to have an in-law like that;P
Ah ohhh I LOOOVVEEE your biscottis!!!

Deborah said...

I actually get along very well with my mother-in-law. Maybe it's because I don't have kids yet, so she can't meddle too much in my life right now!! :) Your biscotti looks sooo good!

Abby said...

My MIL relationship is love/hate. Hrmph. But she does often think of me, and recently sent me a small gift so I know not to take things personally and remember that I'm married to her "baby" and it, I guess, has been hard for her to let him go!

That being said ... I love biscotti! And chocolate! What a wonderful treat - esp. with coffee, as your husband said. And that cookie-decorating group is one of the sweetest things I've ever heard of. I live across the street from a nursing home so I might have to try this with my sisters!

Rachel said...

These look fabulous!

Pille said...

I love biscotti on their own, but dipped in chocolate??? That sounds absolutely divine!!
I've got a pretty good mother-in-law candidate - she teaches me about jamming and canning and wild mushroom forageing, so I cannot complain:)

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Those biscotti are beautiful. I could practically smell them through the screen -- practically being the key word there. Any chance your mother-in-law would like a pen pal?

Also, I'm a new reader. So let me take this chance to say how much I enjoy your writing, your photography, your stories and (of course) your recipes. Plus, as a former San Diegan who has now returned to the Upper Midwest, I just love reading about SoCal and the fresh produce that I will miss this winter.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Susan, thank you so much for helping to spread the word about Drop In & Decorate -- and for reminding me to get over to Scialo (which is now run entirely by the women in the family, so perhaps they should rename it Scialo Sisters?) for some of their wonderful biscotti.

Mishmash ! said...

Susan, you re lucky to have a loving spouse and loving MIL too, thats a rare combo, my firend :))) How thoughtful she is!!! and how creative too!! I loved this post, the gift bag and the biscotti, generally i make a hazelnut and cranberry one.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! And I absolutely *adore* my MIL!

Asha said...

LOL @ the MIL Joke!! Yeah, you are lucky to have good MIL. Indian MILs are tough to deal with usually.
Biscotti looks delicious!:)

Anonymous said...

I thought I had a great mother-in-law but after reading this ;)
I'd love to dunk one (or preferably more) of her biscotti in my latte!

Cris said...

My mother-in-law is great, but when I was the only daughter-in-law she was even better with all the gifts just for me. :-) I love biscottis, never tried to make them though, just feel like making some after this beautiful view here.

SteamyKitchen said...

Hey girl! Miss u!

Ok, either you really really really love your MIL....


you are sucking up for a nice holiday present!!


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Sarah-Ow! I'm so sorry to hear that! If you take them out of the oven earlier rather than later, they will be softer. You might have to dunk longer than usual though. ;)

Valentina-THANKS! :)

Deborah-Ha, I hadn't thought of that! ;)

Abby-Oh, I'm so glad to hear that, and Lydia will be too!

Rachel-Thank you!

Pille-Mushroom foraging? That's nothing to sneeze at!

Kelly-You just made my day. Thank you for being so kind; I look forward to future visits.

Lydia-I think we should propose the name change!

Shn-I am.:) My mother-in-law makes a cranberry and pistachio one for Christmas, but hazelnuts sound delicious too. Thanks for the idea!

Melissa-That's wonderful!

Asha-Maybe you could butter her up with some biscotti. ;)

Linda-Any hot coffee drink will do!

Cris-Oh, that's so nice to hear you feel like making some now!

Jaden-Yup, I sure am--for more biscotti! ;)

Curt McAdams said...

Susan, I'd love to have a M-I-L like yours. I don't not get along with mine, but that's about it. :(

A friend used to own an espresso bar and had biscotti made for him by a local chef, and they were double baked. One batch was delivered for those of us 'in' with the espresso bar. They were still soft and chewy. I don't mind crunchy, but these were great.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

Who needs a cook book? Just click over to you. yum.

Coffee and Vanilla said...

Very nice story and biscotti as well. You have wonderful Mother-in-Low! :)
I made again salad similar to yours, this time I was closer to the original but I still had to replace dates with raisins and pecans with walnuts... next time I will make a list to buy all ingredients :)


Sig said...

Susan, I saw the title and hurried over here to read some juicy "Mil from Hell" story... :) It is so wonderful you have such a great relationship with ur mom-in-law... I have a very nuetral relationship with mine,no love or hate... :) . Biscottis look wonderful!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Biscotti is the best, and you are too funny! Let me know if you ever plan to lease your mother-in-law out. I'd gladly join her extended biscotti family!

Anh said...

Your biscotti must be one of the best i have seen...!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

You are lucky to have a good relationship with your MIL! I have one, too, which I am also appreciating more and more as I see many of my non-Italian girlfriends have some crazy MILs! :)

And yum, these biscotti!! :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I pray that I am like your motherinlaw and not like the mine! These are totally awesome biscotti but I would expect nothing less from you! Thank you!

Nupur said...

Thank you for this delicious recipe! I just started to make biscotti at home and this recipe is being bookmarked...
Your MIL sounds like an awesome person! A loveingly packed care package is something money can't buy.

Le Flâneur Novice said...

Poor mother-in-laws :))

I do also get along well with my 'future' mother-in-law as you do, Susan...

She's so thoughtful, understanding, and elegant. And I can see the happiness, and love in her eyes when she looks at me or talks to me.

I think she sees my love to her son in my eyes, too :)

There is a quite age difference between me(24) and my 'future' husband(52). And so that my mother-in-law (70) is also so older than me. However all these differences make a good relation among this 'coming soon' family :))

Other point is that if you "look" positive, and try to make thing more beautiful, then everything gets better... Including relations between brides and mother-in-laws...

So it must also be a part goodness of you Susan, too, as you get along with eachother :)

I will soon try these lovely biscotti, and package to my mother-in-law :)


Jeanne said...

You sure lucked out in the M-i-L department... Mine is... OK. We don't really disagree or not get along, but warm cuddliness, baked good and sending gifts is definitely not on the menu. All would be seen as unjustifiable extravagance :o)

These look awesome - very decadent. And good thing Jeff reminded you about the dipping thing - sounds like the best part ;-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

you mother in law is the sweetest ever, Susan!

the biscotti look fantastic!

bazu said...

Your mother-in-law sounds fabulous! That care package looks beautiful! And the biscotti sound out of this world... I am now obsessed with the thought of veganizing them... I need something to dunk into my coffee, darnit!

Katie Zeller said...

The biscotti look fabulous! It's wonderful that you get along with your m-i-l. I can make no comment as I never met mon mari's parents, they both died rather young.
Love the jokes, though!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Curt-Yeah, it's really all about personal preference. My mom leaves hers in the oven till they get really hard cause that's the way she and my sister-in-law love them.


Margot-I love raisins and walnuts together. I'll try that variation now too!

Sig-Sorry, no dirty laundry to hang out today! ;)

T.W.-I don't have any immediate plans to, but you'll be the first to know if I do! ;)

Anh-That's my MIL's handiwork, but I'll take a little credit for the food styling and picture taking. :)

Sara-What do they say? Appreciate what you have....:)

Tanna-I'm sure you're like mine. I know it! :)

Nupur-You won't be disappointed! You're so right.

Bal-Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It's wonderful to hear that you're so content with your future mother-in-law, and sending her biscotti will make her love you forever! :)

Jeanne-Aw, that's too bad. Everyone could use a box of homemade cookies once in a while. And you're worth it! :)

Patricia-Thanks so much!

Bazu-Ooh, I can't offer help with that one. Sorry, Bazu.

Katiez-Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I'm happy to hear you still found the jokes humorous.

Julie said...

Those are lovely biscotti--a cookie I've never made before--for shame. Anna at Cookie Madness just posted some great almond biscotti too. I have a really great mother-in-law too. I can't imagine it any other way.

Cate said...

What an adorable CARE package, and the Biscotti don't look half bad either. ;)

Nabeela said...

What lovely biscottis! It is indeed the season for baking when everyone seems to be cranking up their ovens to turn out delicious goodies.
P.S: I envy you your great mother-in-law!

Mandy said...

susan, thanks for the link! You are such a lucky gal!

sra said...

Susan, those jokes are wicked! But the MILs in India usually only affect the women and not the men - only rarely do you hear of an MIL nagging a son-in-law and even then, I would wonder.
That said, the biscotti look lovely and I'm drooling for some right now. That package with the biscotti and the little label with your names took me back to my childhood when I would get lots of little presents like that!

Susan said...

A great M-I-L is like a great hairstylist, to be cherished for life. I cherish my hairstylist. My M-I-L lives 1700 miles from us. WORKS for me, but I am grateful to her for the fine man who is my husband.

Great biscotti. Crunchy AND chewy. Just perfect.

Jo-Ann said...

Susan - Great blogg!!! I love biscotti - my favorite as well. These have to go some to beat your Mom's though, but I'm willing to make the comparison. PLEASE forward your mother in law's address to me!! I'll be happy to report back to you with the results.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Julie-It's never too late to start. :)


Nabeela-It is baking time everywhere, isn't it?

Mandy-You're so welcome!

Sra-I do wish women would support women more. The tags and cards she sends typically have vintage pictures on them.

Susan-That's quotable.

Jo-Ann-OK, but we won't tell my mom. ;)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those biscotti look marvelous! Yummy!

It's with my mother/parents that I don't get along ;-P... They are highly "toxic"!



Anonymous said...

I am blessed with a wonderful MIL. She is there for us, but she minds her own business, and she is a wonderful grandmother to boot, truly the best!

However, her cooking......hmmmm. I'll just plead the fifth on that!!

Pip said...

I get along with my mother-in-law too, the only difference with yours is that mine is really terrible at cooking! ;)
These biscotti look so delicious, especially dipped into chocolate! :P

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post for so many reasons:
1. I love almond biscotti, and chocolate dipped - my my that looks delicious!
2. It's great to see others out there promoting Lydia's wonderful cause - her blog is fantastic.
3. It's even better to read about the great relationship you have with your mother-in-law. My brother and his wife and daughter are moving next week and this will be the first time any of our family has moved out of Chicago. So seeing that care packages and letters like this really strengthen your relationship helps this transition for me, and hopefully my mother.

Anonymous said...

I went to school in RI, and I used to go to Federal Hill for their amazing Italian pastries. Now I live in the South and there aren't too many Italian bakeries here. Thanks for the recipe. My wife and I are going to try them.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Rosa-Thanks! I'm sorry to hear that.

Kate-You are fortunate. Maybe you should give your MIL some cooking lessons? ;)

Pip-Darn! Maybe you should hook up with Kate and give both MILs some cooking lessons? ;)

Hillary-And I really appreciated your thoughtful response. You will love sending and receiving the care packages--I promise. :)

Mike-Yeh! Someone else who knows Federal Hill. I hope you and your wife make them--it'll bring you right back. Thanks for visiting!

Deborah Dowd said...

There are so many comments, but these look so good that I had to throw in my two cents. With a cup of hot coffee or cocoa... I am hungry already!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute and what a creative person your MIL is...the packet is beautifully wrapped and the biscotti looks....develishly good!

MeloMeals said...

How cool that you and your MIL get along so well. She sounds like a great lady!

Chris said...

These look fantastic! I love biscotti ...eating and making. And - thanks for the links! I am going to have to get to making those pignoli cookies. :)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want any biscotti my MIL made. The woman couldn't make a bowl of cereal. You're lucky. -JB

Kajal@aapplemint said...

Its nice to have a MIL who cares ... u are indeed lucky .My MIL too is a wonderful person.
Love the cute parcel with u n ur hubby's name on it.
And of course the biscotti looks to die for :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Deborah-Oh, yes, cocoa would be fantastic as well! Thanks for your two cents.:)

Ronnell-I like that--devilishly good. :)

Melody-She really is!

Chris-Those pignoli cookies are so easy and so delicious. I really hope you try them.

JB- Yikes! Maybe she needs a few pointers? :)

Kate/Kajal-I'm happy to hear you have a good MIL too. I love the name tag too!

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Anonymous said...

biscottis are one of the best cookies in the world! My husband had been after me to make them for months now.

Anonymous said...

Your MIL sounds like a peach. Of course, I'm sure you're a peach of a daughter-in-law.

My first marriage didn't last but I still visit my ex-MIL every year. I adore her. And my current MIL is also a wonderful woman who makes apple pies for me whenever she visits.

I've never made biscotti, but maybe I should make them for both my MILs! They look delicious.

And those jokes? Hilarious.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

S.J.Simon-That's a travesty! ;)

Veronica-I hope your try this recipe. They really are fabulous.

Julie-Aw, thanks. I'm sorry to hear about your marriage, but it sounds like you really lucked out in the MIL department--2 great ones?!? :)

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Lynne Daley said...

I love your photo holding the biscotti over a cup! Thanks for the link to my biscotti.

Dee said...

Hi Susan. It has taken a while but I am beginning to get some free time to catch up on your fantastic stories and recipes. Yes, we are very lucky to have such a wonderful mother-in-law. Her much anticipated packages are cherished like a prize possession. Jason and I have made a deal not to eat the biscotti without one another to make sure one of us does not get more than the other. Yes, they are that good!! She also has everything wrapped so cute with her curly ribbon, decorative bags and sweet notes. She is amazing and we are truely lucky to have her as our mother-in-law.

Thanks for the great story.

Stephanie said...

I somehow came across this post through a Google search and was inspired to stop into the bakery since I pass it on my way to work. I just finished the last biscotti in the bag this morning, so I'll definitely have to try the recipe!

SusyS said...

I haven't tried these yet but they look just like the biscotti I've been looking for. There was an Italian Bakery in Pompano Beach Fl that made a chewy biscotti that was the best in the world. They closed and I haven't been able to find anything the compared. I'll can't wait to try these. Thanks for the great site.

Anonymous said...

these are INCREDIBLE! i made them to fundraise for Team in Training, and I could barely stop myself from eating them first! I made some with chocolate chips, some were dipped, and I did add a little bit of almond extract...they were TO DIE FOR!