Recipe 6 of the Christmas Cookies Around the World Holiday Project for Kids: Italian Chocolate Biscotti Recipe
Biscotti cookies are usually associated with coffee drinks and a fun treat that you can find in any grocery store. However, Biscotti cookies are also a popular Christmas treat to enjoy during the holiday season in Italy. Baking biscotti cookies are just one of Italy’s many Christmas traditions during the holiday season. If you are looking for a fun way to teach your kids about other countries and expose them to different cultures, planning Christmas around the world party or class project featuring different cookies is a great way to do that!
The Christmas Cookies Around the World series is a fun way to introduce children to:
- World geography
- Holiday traditions
- Popular cookies from various cultures and parts of the world
This series will help teach your kids an age-appropriate way to emphasize togetherness while also learning about the traditions and popular recipes from other places around the world. It is also designed to encourage togetherness through baking and kindness through sharing with others. The full series of additional articles with tips and baking videos is available here on the Christmas Cookies Around the World main page.
BRIEF HISTORY OF ITALIAN CHOCOLATE WALNUT-CHERRY BISCOTTI
Biscotti is a crunchy Italian cookie also known as cantucci. The first biscotti dates back to the 14th century in Tuscany. Historically biscotti were made as a traveling food. To help them stay fresh longer they were baked twice, once in loaf form and then once again in individual slices to dry them out more. This results in a crisp cookie. Often biscotti are served with a drink to dunk the cookie in and soften it.
Fun Facts About Italy’s Christmas Traditions
- One of the best Italian Christmas traditions is that they celebrate for much longer than other countries. Their festive season officially starts on December 8 – celebrated with the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. It lasts right the way through until January 6, the 12th day of Christmas, known as the Epiphany.
- Italians don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve, or la Vigilia. Instead they eat a variety of fish dishes – sometimes up to seven courses of seafood!
- A popular Christmas tradition for those who live or are staying in Rome is visiting the Vatican for midnight mass with the Pope on Christmas Eve.
- Christmas markets with various stalls with typical food, Christmas sweets and gifts can be visited in many towns especially in Italy’s northern Alto-Adige Region.
- The city of Naples in Italy is world famous for its Nativity scenes. These are known as ‘Presepe Napoletano’ (meaning Neapolitan Nativity/cribs scenes).
- In Italian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Buon Natale’, in Sicilian it’s ‘Bon Natali’ and in Ladin (spoken in some parts of the northern Italian region of South Tyrol) it’s ‘Bon/Bun Nadèl’
- Epiphany is also important in Italy. On Epiphany night, children believe that an old lady called ‘Befana’ brings presents for them.
- In major cities, you will find towering Christmas trees taking over the main square and smaller trees are increasingly decorating Italian homes.
As part of the Christmas Cookies Around the World Holiday Project we’ve included a Cookie Taste Test Journal where children can record information about the cookie they’ve tasted, color the country flag, and record how much they liked the flavor. There are also blank versions so that you can incorporate your own country and cookie preferences.
VIDEOS ABOUT ITALIAN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
Learn about Christmas in Italy using this fun video to teach kids about their many Christmas traditions.
Learn all about the different Christmas traditions that you can enjoy in Italy in this video.
This video will teach you about all the different and unique Christmas traditions that Italy celebrates.
Learn all about Italy and what it’s like to celebrate the Christmas season there.
Additional Resources for Teaching Children About Italy
Learn new fun facts and interesting information about the country of Italy.
Learn about Italy in a fun and musical way with this video.
Want to know more about what Italian people eat? This video shares different kids trying different Italian foods.
Use this video to teach your kids ten fun facts about Italy.
Take a trip back in time to learn all about the Italian gladiators and why they’re important.
This video is a great introduction to Italy for your kids.
BOOKS ABOUT CHRISTMAS IN ITALY
The Legend of Old Befana: An Italian Christmas Story by Tomie dePaola
Tomie dePaola retells and illustrates an Italian Christmas folk tale in this heartwarming book for kids.
Italy ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of Italy by Sharon Katz Cooper
This book will help you teach your kids about people and places around Italy using the alphabet.
Living in . . . Italy by Chloe Perkins
Learn about what it’s like to live in Italy with the help of this book.
Take Me Back to Italy by Baby Professor
Explore the country of Italy with this book for kids.
Chocolate Biscotti Recipe
Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tbsp additional for kneading
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup Dutch processed cocoa
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¾ cup toasted walnuts chopped
- ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
- Whisk 2 eggs and vanilla together in another bowl. Stir into the dry ingredients.
- Stir in the walnuts, chocolate chips and cherries.
- Turn out on a lightly floured surface, knead gently until dough forms. (This will be sticky.)
- Divide dough into 2 portions. Shape each into a rectangle on parchment lined baking sheets.
- Beat the remaining egg and water and brush over the top of each portion.
- Bake until firm to the touch, about 25 – 35 minutes.
- Cool in pans on wire racks until firm, about 10-15 minutes.
- Lower oven to 300 F. Using a serrated knife cut the rectangles into ¾ inch slices.
- Place slices on baking sheets, cut side down then bake until crisp, about 10-15 min on each side.
- Remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Get Your FREE Christmas Cookies Around the World Taste Test Recording Sheet
Use the taste test recording sheet to have kids record information about the cookie(s) they tasted and rate how well they liked the cookies. Individual pages can be compiled into a taste test booklet for all the cookies you try in the series, or you can choose to have kids record only their favorite cookie if you prefer.
Save paper by printing two or four to a page if preferred.
Get the entire 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Around the World project
For those interested in expanding the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Around the World project into a class or family project we’ve created a 50+ page activity guide to make it super easy for you.
Inside you’ll find:
- Quick Reference List of Cookies and Countries
- Generic Cookie Taste Test Recording Sheet
- Cookie Taste Test Recording Table
- Class Graphing Header and Voting Cards
- Christmas Cookies Around the World Passport (three versions)
- Taste Test Journal
- Cookie Recipe Cookbook
- Editable Cookie Recipe Page to add in additional family and multi-cultural options
- Gift Tags
- My Family’s Favorite Cookie Recipe (two versions)
- Editable Parent Letter (two versions)
- Ingredient List by Cookie
The project is designed for use in the classroom, at home, or in community programs. Suggestions and modifications for each setting are included in the resource.
Get your Christmas Cookies Around the World Project
This project is also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.