One of my favorite cookie books is Maida Heatter’s Brand-New Book of Great Cookies. Her recipes are carefully written with detailed instructions that guarantee success. I have often thought that her book would be the one that I would bake straight through–cover to cover. I haven’t done that yet, but I do return to her book with regularity. I was drawn to her Multigrain and Seed Biscotti when I had a cupboard full of seeds that needed using up–and because they are full of everything good.
Her recipe needs no improvement, but I substituted black sesame seeds for white because I thought the contrast of the black seeds would be pretty. I also toasted some of the seeds instead of leaving them raw, and I increased the salt. Minor changes.
However, if you are so inclined, this recipe invites substitutions. If you have a cupboard full of seeds, like I did, use what you have. Anise seeds, fennel seeds, or nigella seeds would be great additions. The pine nuts (technically a seed) are wonderful, but the recipe calls for a whopping 2 cups. For a less expensive cookie, substituting slivered or sliced almonds will work nicely—you’ll have to call them Multigrain and Seed and Nut Biscotti, though.
I am torn between describing these as hippy dippy cookies, or hoity toity crackers. They are both earthy and sophisticated, neither too sweet nor too savory, and equally fitting paired with herbal tea or Vin Santo. I like them best for breakfast, but they would be a lovely addition to a fruit and cheese platter, served alongside a bowl of ice cream, or with a schmear of crème fraiche and smoked salmon. They are the chameleon of the cookie world.