Fraya loves to bake but hates to spend tons of time on it, so this is her go-to recipe. It takes about 10 minutes to make the dough, another 5 to shape the logs and get them in the oven, and then 25 to bake. While one batch is baking, she usually makes another. She slices batch #1 while batch #2 bakes and ends up with piles and piles of biscotti. During the holidays, Fraya, her friend Jennifer Fish and some of Jennifer's friends spent an entire day mixing, baking, slicing, and bagging 100 pounds of these biscotti. Jennifer gave all of it to her clients as holiday gifts, with a note attached about the mission of Cookies for Kids' Cancer as well as the donation she made to the organization in the client's name. Clients raved about both the biscotti and Jennifer's thoughtfulness.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, anise seed and vanilla, one at a time, beating after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Add the almonds and mix until just incorporated (it's okay if some of them break).
Using cold, wet hands, form the dough into 8 balls and then shape each ball into a 10-inch log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter.
Place the logs on the prepared cookie sheets about 3 inches apart. Transfer to the oven and bake until just golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool 10 minutes.
Transfer the cooked logs to a cutting board and using a very sharp straight-edged knife, slice the logs on a slight diagonal, about 1/3 inch thick. Place the slices on unlined baking sheets and bake until just golden and dry to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cool completely. Store in resealable plastic bags or airtight containers at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
variation Substitute 4 cups walnuts for the almonds and 1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh orange zest for the anise seed.