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Caramel-and-nut biscotti that are blessed to be vegan

Vegan almond biscotti, dipped in caramel and chocolate, from Justine Hernandez.
(Portrait by Christina House / Los Angeles Times; cookie photo by Silvia Razgova / For The Times; food and prop styling by Leah Choi)

We asked several L.A.-area pastry chefs and cooks to contribute their favorite holiday cookies. Each is a simple, home-style cookie that reflects the contributor’s memories of holidays past.

Justine Hernandez

Owner/baker of Just What I Kneaded

We’re Polish and Mexican and Gypsy, so we have all our traditions, and they’re strange. It’s interesting to see that this is the cookie that made it through all those different backgrounds.

It was first named after a cousin of mine, but everything is weird and political, so my grandmother decided to change the name and now it has this innocuous meaning. It’s the recipe that’s the most passed-down but hasn’t changed at all.

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My family is from Chicago, and we have an aunt who makes them every year; she taught my grandma, my grandma taught us. When I think of the cookie, I think of hot coffee and snow — a very picturesque Chicago Christmas.

But this is not the original recipe. My grandmother put a curse on the recipe for anyone outside the family who makes it. I knew if I wanted to publish it, I’d have to make it vegan so it’s different. Last week, my grandmother called me and asked, “How much did you change it? You better have changed it.” A hex would be placed upon me had I shared a nonvegan version.

— As told to Ben Mims

Teddy Bear Biscotti

Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Yields Makes 3 dozen


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