You Can Make It Yourself: Biscotti

I was once know as The Biscotti Girl.

When my youngest was a baby (3 months old), we moved from the big city to a small Gulf Island (madness!). It was a place that was bustling in the summer and almost empty in the winter. To stop myself from going stir crazy (they don’t calI it a rain forest for nothing), I started to make biscotti for the local organic market cafe (ah, drinking coffee was what the locals did in the winter!).

Over the year, I made many, many varieties—including the exotic and delicious red peppercorn biscotti—but double-chocolate was the hands-down best-seller. Perhaps it was because I added a bit of espresso to the mix. Anyway, I had my customers addicted. So no matter whatever other flavours I made that week, one was always chocolate.

Even though we no longer live there, we still live on an island, and I still make biscotti. In fact, I pretty much always have some in the tin. It is my favourite baked-good because it is not too sweet, a slice is very portable (you don’t need a plate or a utensil), you can eat it any time of the day or night, it’s wonderfully crunchy, and it makes a steaming cappuccino or tea latte all the more perfect. You never have to worry about not using it up before it goes dry as it keeps for a couple of weeks in an air-tight container. And if someone stops by, you always have something (impressive) to serve. All that, and even though you’re an adult, you can dunk.

I’ll tell you a little secret: biscotti are actually very easy to make at home, even with the double-baking. Sometimes I’ll do something seasonal—like cranberry/pistachio for Christmas—but my go-to is Fig & Anise. So here is the recipe, but feel free to swap in whatever you like. Raisin, apricot and ginger, traditional Italian almond are all yummy…and use whatever nuts you have in the pantry. BTW hazelnuts are awesome. Mind you, I get mine from a hazelnut farm nearby. It doesn’t get better than that.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. anise seeds (sometimes I add 1/2 tsp. of ground anise as well)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups, plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • sanding sugar (optional)

Egg Wash: 1 egg mixed with a splash of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast lightly until just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a kitchen towel for a few minutes. Rub off the skins while the nuts are still warm. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy with a hand mixer. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs and beat until mixture is smooth. Beat in the anise seeds and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just combined. Stir in chopped nuts and figs.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into two equal parts. Shape each portion into a log about the length of your prepared baking sheet and about 2 inches in diameter. Set the logs on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Apply egg wash to top and sides. Sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar if desired.

Bake the logs until they are set to the touch and lightly browned on top, about 20-25 minutes. Let the logs cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and cut on the diagonal into slices about 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Return the slices cut side down to the baking sheet. Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly toasted 5 to 7 minutes longer. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack.

*** Recipe adapted from Tartine Bakery Cookbook

 

 

 

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