When your tastebuds are tingling for a not too sweet treat with your espresso or cuppa, look no further than these crisp italian biscotti. You might have tried my traditional Cavallucci Cookies from Siena, however I'm keen to share other Italian delights with you too. I figure you can never have enough great biscuit recipes in your collection. For me, a freshly baked Melting Moment remains the epitome of heart-warming country baking. It's THE Best biscuit barrel treat at my place. But for the moments of pure pleasure that require dunking & crunching rather than melting, I hope you'll enjoy these simple biscotti too - molto buoni.
very good italian biscotti
ingredients - 1½ cups (225 grams) plain flour ❤ 1½ teaspoons baking powder ❤ ½ teaspoon salt ❤ ¾ cup (110 grams) toasted nuts of your choice; pecans OR almonds OR hazelnuts OR pistachios roughly chopped ❤ ½ cup shredded coconut (optional) ❤ 1 egg ❤ 1 egg white ❤ ¾ cup (165 grams) caster sugar ❤ ½ cup light olive oil ❤ 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ❤ 1 egg extra and 1 tablespoon of water, for brushing biscuit dough ❤ 2 tablespoons icing sugar, for dusting if desired
For an orange version (I know, I can’t help myself!) also add: ❤ finely zested rind of 2 oranges ❤ 2 tablespoons of candied orange peel ❤ 3 teaspoons anise seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
Re. Coconut - if extra coconut flavour desired, add a few drops of coconut extract. On Butter vs Olive Oil - I love substituting butter for olive oil, especially in italian dishes (see my Torta Arancia) but if you’re out of olive oil or just prefer butter, I suggest using 60grams of unsalted softened butter here.
method - Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/160°C fan forced (350°F/Gas Mark 4). Grease and line your largest, flat oven tray with baking paper.
Sift flour and baking powder together into a large mixing bowl. Add nuts, salt and coconut (ground anise seeds, rind and peel too if making orange ones). Toss lightly with your fingertips until well mixed.
Beat the egg, egg white, sugar and vanilla extract in a separate medium sized bowl until creamy, about one minute. Pour into the dry flour mix and combine into a pliable dough. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill and firm for one hour.
Knead dough for a minute or two on a floured surface. Divide into 2 portions and shape each portion into a long, round smooth 20-25cm log. Place on prepared tray with some space between each as they spread a little. Mix extra egg and water in a mug and beat with a fork. Brush egg mixture over logs with your pastry brush and bake for 20 minutes or until light golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing. I always use an electric carving knife (quick & easy) but a sharp serrated bread knife will do the job too. Cut in neat diagonal slices just less than 1cm thick. On this same tray, lie the biscotti on their sides and bake for a further 6-8 minutes on each side in a slow oven 150°C (300°F) or until crisp and golden. Leave on trays to firm up a little more before cooling completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Even better if enjoyed after a day or two when the flavours become more pronounced - in theory without scoffing.
Your kids might enjoy dunking them in milk. Enjoy creative variations like chocolate cherry biscotti (½ cup of cocoa and amarena cherries), pistachio and cranberry, coffee and cinnamon, dried apricots, dates or figs. Try adding toasted pecans or macadamias instead of almonds too. They keep well for up to 5-6 days in a sealed container and freeze really well too.
I recall the exact moment, time and place when Italy & her food became ‘my thing’. I fell head over heels in love with la cucina italiana in medieval Montepulciano. Many of you have been there I'm sure - the small hillside town and major producer of some of Italy's most fabulous food and wine. I often say I lost my heart in the very heart of Tuscany, while living and studying in Siena. However it was a sunny day-trip with friends for a picnic atop Montepulciano’s limestone ridge that really did me in. The moment I set foot inside the towns ‘alimentari’, shops and stalls bursting with local produce, I was a goner. I’ve been baking, dunking, sipping, bottling and generally loving handmade simple foods ever since. Yes, my Granny and the amazing Amy Schauer first inspired me to cook, as I described in my first posting Special Light Scones. But without doubt it is the influence of Italian cuisine on my life that stirs a daily passion to cook great simple food for a beautiful healthy life. Che bella vita!
Portofino, Italy...another special place for dunking. x