Jeera biscuits, a South Asian shortbread cookie studded with cumin seeds, and mukhwas, a popular Indian palate cleanser and digestive aid made with fennel and other seeds, are the inspiration behind these savory-sweet, entirely non-traditional biscotti. Thanks to the addition of butter, they are a little softer in the middle than the classic twice-baked Italian cookie, but still crunchy on the outside. Cumin seeds lend a slight bitterness; feel free to reduce the amount if you’d prefer the sweeter, licorice-like flavor of fennel to dominate.
Cumin Fennel Biscotti
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
Unsweetened shredded coconut for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and toasted, cooled fennel and cumin seeds until light and fluffy, about one minute. Mix in eggs until smooth and well-combined. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until just incorporated.
3. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a rectangle (about 10 inches long and 3 ½ inches wide) on the prepared baking tray, a few inches apart. Lightly flour the dough if it is too sticky to shape. Sprinkle liberally with shredded coconut, if desired.
4. Bake for around 25 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Let cool for a few minutes, and then cut into equal-sized slices (around 1 inch wide.) Place biscotti cut side down and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until crisp around the edges and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Yields approximately 21 biscotti