I love biscotti. Especially when they are so hard you have to gnaw on them with your back teeth to break them apart. They're like teething rusks for grown ups! Today was a great afternoon for baking and I wanted to shake up my cake/muffin/cupcake routine by making something different.
Today was my first time at baking biscotti. I think the whole 'twice bake' part of the procedure and my own impatience with baking in the past has been the stumbling block.
Now the process was not without drama. Initially, I was thinking, how hard can it be? I had all the ingredients and a basic recipe, but what I discovered along the way was that I lacked 'technique'. I had a little trouble when it came to slicing the logs into biscuits, I found that they crumbled as I cut them. I am not sure if it was because the logs didn't cool long enough before cutting, or if I had too many nuts in my mixture.
Here is the recipe (with Kitty flavour) and my biscotti journey. Despite my hang-ups, they taste great, even if they don't all look perfect!
Pistachio and Almond Biscotti - Inspired by Tyler Florence
3/4 cup pistachio nuts
3/4 cup almonds (or 1 1/2 cups of whatever nuts you fancy)
115g unsalted butter
1 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (Remember what Ina Garten says...)
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 180c. Lay nuts out evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes to toast them slightly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well.
Sift in flour, salt and baking powder. Using a wooden spoon, attempt to mix. Mix until you develop a sore mixing arm. Work through the pain and keep mixing until the mixture eventually comes together to form a dough.
Add nuts and again, I challenge you to incorporate them into the mixture without feeling like your arm is going to fall off. (Or do what I did, which was give up and poke the nuts back into the mixture and shape the dough into a shaggy lump).
Lightly flour your work surface and divide your dough into 3. (3 seemed most manageable for me, 4 might work better next time). Shape dough into logs about 1 inch high, and transfer to your baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
Bake for approx 35 minutes, making sure the bottoms don't get too brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. (When I removed my logs from the oven, they cracked which made me a little concerned but I soldiered on...)
When cooled, place on a cutting board and cut logs on the diagonal, about an inch thick. (Don't be surprised if the nuts cause your biscotti to disintegrate a little - or a lot as I found! Next time I think I will roughly chop my nuts or add less).
Place your biscotti back onto the baking sheet and return to the oven for 5 minutes, turn over and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar to serve and store in an airtight container.
Enjoy with Vin Santo, tea or coffee.
Until next time...