Sunday 28 December 2014

Rachel Allen: Twice baked traditional Italian biscotti

Bring traditional Italian biscotti to life with a little spice, dried fruit, nuts and even some dark chocolate, says Rachel Allen.

Rachel Allen

Published 23/03/2014 | 02:30

Rachel Allen
Date and almond biscotti
Rachel Allen. Rachel’s clothes, Brown Thomas and BT2 Jewellery, Seoidin, Westbury Mall Make-up by Amy Browne, Brown Sugar Hair by Jennifer Lil Buckley, Brown Sugar

The Italians are very particular about what they dip their biscotti into. For them, biscotti should only be dipped into vin santo, as the dry, crunchy texture of biscotti is ideal for soaking up the sweet wine, not coffee. Mind you, I think a hot, milky coffee is the perfect vehicle for a crunchy, fruity, nutty biscotti.

Biscotti gave us the English word "biscuit", though, unlike other biscuits, biscotti are always twice-baked.

They are baked once in a roll of dough, then sliced while the dough is still warm and baked again. This makes them exceptionally dry, and it's why they keep for so long. That longevity made them perfect for sea voyages, but, for me, it just means they last for weeks in my cupboard.

Fruits and nuts of different shapes and sizes have found their way into biscotti over the years. The original, traditional recipe comes from the town of Prato, in Tuscany. It had only flour, eggs, sugar, pine nuts and almonds. It defines the classic biscotti, with no fat or butter, to give that dry texture that typifies a biscotti. For flavour, though, I like to add other ingredients, such as spices, dried fruits or even chocolate.

The date and almond biscotti aren't exactly traditional, as dates are rarely used in Italian food, but I love their sweetness, and they work well in this simple biscotti with only almonds.

You could try using pine nuts instead of the almonds, if you'd like. Just roast them for a few minutes less.

In the spiced biscotti recipe, opposite, I've dipped them in chocolate. I love the texture contrast, as well as the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. The chocolate does mean that these biscotti won't last as long – only three weeks in an airtight container.

 

rachel-briscotti.jpg 

Date and almond biscotti

Makes about 25 biscuits.

You will need:

50g (2oz) whole almonds

1 egg

100g (3½oz) caster sugar

125g (4½oz) plain flour

50g (2oz) dates, chopped

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 160°C, 325°F, Gas 3. Put the almonds on a roasting tray in a single layer and put the tray in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the almonds are golden, then chop them roughly.

Whisk the egg and the caster sugar for a few minutes using an electric mixer, until the mixture is pale and mousse-like, then fold in the plain flour, the chopped dates, the baking powder and the salt, along with the chopped roasted almonds.

With floured hands, on a floured surface, shape the dough into a log shape about 3cm x 30cm (1in x 12in). Put the log on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until just set and pale golden.

Remove the tray from the oven and allow the log to cool for 5 minutes. Then, using a bread knife, cut the log at an angle, into roughly 25 slices that are about 1cm thick. Put these slices flat on the tray and place in the oven.

Cook the biscotti for 4-5 minutes on each side, until they are pale golden and dry. Cool on a wire rack. The biscotti will keep very well for about six weeks if stored in an airtight container.

Chocolate-dipped spiced biscotti

Makes about 20 biscuits.

You will need:

1 egg

100g (3½oz) caster sugar

125g (4½oz) plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

A pinch of salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons milk

1 tablespoon caster sugar

100g (3½oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 160°C, 325°F, Gas 3. Whisk the egg and the caster sugar for a few minutes using an electric mixer, until the mixture is pale and mousse-like, then fold in the plain flour, the baking powder, the orange zest, the pinch of salt and the ground cinnamon, then mix well.

With floured hands, on a floured surface, shape the dough into a log shape about 4cm x 28cm (1½in x 11in). Put the log on a parchment-lined baking tray. Brush the log with the milk and sprinkle with a little caster sugar, then bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until it's just set and pale golden. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the log to cool for 5 minutes.

Using a bread knife, cut the log at an angle, into roughly 20 slices that are about 1cm thick. Put these slices flat on the tray and put in the oven. Cook the biscotti for 4-5 minutes on each side, until they are pale golden and dry. Cool on a wire rack.

Place the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. When the chocolate has melted, dip the biscotti slices about halfway into the chocolate. Allow any excess to drip off, and place on a plate to cool and set. The biscotti will keep well for about three weeks if they are stored in an airtight container.

Cranberry and white chocolate biscotti

Makes about 25 biscuits.

You will need:

1 egg

100g (3½oz) caster sugar

125g (4½oz) plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

75g (3oz) white chocolate, chopped

50g (2oz) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 160°C, 325°F, Gas 3.

Whisk the egg and the caster sugar for a few minutes using an electric mixer, until the mixture is pale and mousse-like, then fold in the plain flour, the baking powder, the pinch of salt, the chopped white chocolate and the dried cranberries.

With floured hands, on a floured surface, shape the dough into a log shape about 3 x 30cm (1in x 12in).

Put the log on a parchment-lined baking tray, then bake it in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until it is just set and pale golden.

Remove the tray from the oven and allow the log to cool for five minutes.

Then, with a bread knife, cut the log at an angle, into roughly 25 slices that are about 1cm thick.

Put these slices flat on the tray and place in the oven.

Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until pale golden and dry.

Allow the biscotti to cool on a wire rack.

 

  • Rachel's clothes, Brown Thomas and BT2
  • Jewellery, Seoidin, Westbury Mall
  • Make-up by Amy Browne, Brown Sugar Hair by Jennifer Lil Buckley, Brown Sugar

Sunday Indo Life Magazine

Promoted articles

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice



Also in Life