So I wanted to create an all-purpose biscotti recipe, an equivalent to this eminently useful customised cookie recipe where you just make a basic dough then chuck in whatever else you feel like. The plan was to have a recipe that I could adapt to utilise some Christmas flavours, some spices, some peel – and use up some pistachios that were sitting in storage while we didn’t have a kitchen during our 12 weeks-became-24 weeks building project.
Here’s the Christmas version. I’ll post the all-purpose version when I’ve tried a few more variables.
3 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp cinnamon
250g plain flour
200g sugar (caster or granulated)
1 tsp baking powder
(30g raw cacao powder, optional – I just had some)
3 medium eggs, beaten (QB, see below)
100g pistachio nuts
85g candied peel
3. Prepare the spices: crack open the cardamom pods and take out the seeds then grind them up, along with the cloves. I use a mini electric grinder, but you could use a pestle and mortar (can’t find mine). Mix these spices with the cinnamon and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Again, the spice mix is up to you really – all these spices are wonderfully evocative of mid-winter feasting to me, but if you don’t like or don’t have cardamom, for example, don’t worry.
4. Sieve together the flour, cacao powder if using, baking powder and spices and add the salt.
5. Make a dough by adding the beaten egg, a little at a time. You may not need to use it all. For example, my 3 medium eggs produced 170g of beaten egg, but I only needed 160g to make a dough that was malleable, not too dry, not too sticky. That’s QB – which is found in Italian recipes, is short for quanto basta, and means, “how much is enough”. In this case 160g was enough.
7. Form the dough into three slightly flattened logs, about 40-50mm wide, and place these on the baking sheets, sufficiently spaced for some spread.
8. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. You want the logs baked but not dried out, not still gooey. If they’re too gooey inside still, they’re hard to slice for the next stage and the second bake.
9. Allow the logs to cool slightly then, with a serrated bread knife, slice, on a slight angle, into pieces about 10mm thick.
10. Return the biscuits to the baking sheets and bake again, for about 10-15 minutes. Take them out, turn them over, then bake again, to crisp up.
As they’re baked twice – biscotto literally means “twice baked” in Italian, from the Latin – they’ll be crisp and hard. They keep well in an airtight container and are suitable for dipping in a glass of desert wine, or a digestivo, or a hot drink if you’re being abstemious. It’s the season for abstemiousness right?