Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Biscotti



Brittle biscotti is all that a biscuit should be. The real thing should be tooth crackingly crunchy leaving even the most delicate nibblers with a crumb filled plate behind them. The twice baked sticks are perfect coffee dunkers, quickly soaking up bitter black espresso and turning a spongy soft texture in the process; much more friendly to the gnashers.

In Italy they are dipped in Vin Santo as well as coffee, but this isn’t the only tipple you can serve them with. Amaretto liqueur, all sorts of desert wines and even fruity cassis or damson gin offset the sweet, nutty biscuits wonderfully.

Traditionally they are plain or made simply with almonds but there is plenty of scope to add your favourite flavours.

Chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, raisins, vanilla, ginger, apricots or cranberries are just a few of the ingredients that a trawl of the books will produce.

This recipe is a festive one with plenty of cardamom, spices, nuts and fruit. If you want to personalise it stick to the quantities below but change the fruit, nuts and spices to suit your taste.
Being dried out in the oven for so long means they will last for up to three months in an air tight tin and wrapped in cellophane they’re perfect presents.

Plus they’re made without butter so you can nibble them with a clear conscience.

Biscotti

500g plain flour
500g caster sugar
3tsp baking powder
3tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp vanilla or almond essence
150g raw pistachios
150g raw unpeeled almonds
150g dried cranberries
150g dried apricots

Roughly chop all of the fruit and nuts. Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices into a large bowl. Mix in half of the eggs and vanilla or almond essence and stir well. Gradually add the remaining eggs until you have a firm dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl (you may not need all of the eggs). If the dough is too wet and sticky add a little more flour. Kneed in the fruit and nuts and turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide into six and roll each into a long sausage shape which is 3-4cm wide. Place on a baking tray and slightly flatten the cylinders allowing space in between them for rising. Bake at 150˚C for about 25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for ten minutes and then slice each cylinder on the diagonal into 1cm strips. Lay the strips flat on a baking tray and bake again at 140˚C for 10 minutes, turn them over and bake for a further 10 minutes. The biscuits should be pale but not turn brown, the aim is to dry them out not cook them more.

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