Biscotti. If you’re like me, the word ‘biscotti’ conjures up images of the Tuscan treat of Cantuccini. A crunchy, crumbly almond biscuit traditionally dunked in sweet wine or strong black coffee. So I can only imagine that, you too, will be delighted to learn that ‘biscotti’, literally translated as ‘twice-cooked’, is actually the Italian word for ‘biscuit’. I.e. A huge array of tasty Italian treats.
Biscotti have been on my baking wish-list for a while, and the glorious weather this weekend left me feeling just about Mediterranean enough to give them a go.
As the only cantuccini I have tried are those of the generic high street coffee shop, I wanted to sample the real deal – and use a genuine Italian ricette. So with the help of a rather questionable translation courtesy of google, a bit of guess work and some illustrative pictures it was not long before I was sitting in the sun with a cantuccini in hand.
For the second biscotto, it was baking-love at first sight. As soon as I saw a photo of these pistachio biscotti on ‘Signor Biscotti’s blog (seems like a good place to start?) I knew it was the ricette. And I was not let down. Gooey pistachio and zingy lemon. Trust me, for just half an hour’s work (and a small fortune spent on pistachios…) you will NOT be disappointed.
- 280g caster sugar
- 4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 100g melted butter
- 500g plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 250g whole almonds
- Egg wash
Preheat the oven to 190C and toast the almonds for around 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
Whisk the sugar and eggs together until they pale slightly. Whisk in the melted butter, and then sift in the flour and baking powder little by little. Add the almonds and ensure they are well distributed in the dough. With the help of a little extra flour, shape the dough into two or three loaves. Place these on lined baking trays and brush with egg wash.
Bake the loaves at 180C for 25 minutes. (The original recipe said 190C for 20 minutes, however as I had done two loaves they were still a little doughy inside which made slicing them a bit tricky)
Take the loaves out of the oven, and when they are cool enough slice them into about 1cm slices. Return these to the baking tray and bake for a further 10-15 minutes at 170C until they have dried out. As tempted as you are to tuck in right away, wait until they have cooled down completely to taste them at their best!
- 250g pistachios
- 100g granulated sugar
- 1 rounded teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grated zest of half a lemon
- 2 medium egg whites
- About 30 extra pistachios for decoration, preferably with skins removed.
- Icing sugar for shaping the biscotti
Preheat oven to 180C. If you have a bit of extra time to spare (and I agree with Signor Biscotti, it really is worth it…) take about 30 of the most beautiful pistachios and peel them. You can do this fairly easily by placing them in a bowl of freshly boiled water for 5 minutes.
Put the pistachios in a blender with half the granulated sugar and blend until you have a coarse sand like consistency. Although if you only have a teeny-tiny chopper like me, you may need to do this in several batches!
Mix the eggs whites with the honey, lemon and vanilla, then add the pistachios and the rest of the sugar to form a sticky dough.
Sift a generous layer of icing sugar into a tray, and drop tea spoon sized dollops (about 15g) of dough onto the tray. Cover these in icing sugar, then roll them into balls and place on a lined baking tray. Dust with more icing sugar.