My second attempt in my Great British Bake Off bake along. Week two was biscuits and considering my love for Italy it was always going to be biscotti for me. These almond and pistachio biscotti are so tasty and make the perfect little afternoon treat.
Biscotti actually just means twice baked in Italian (these are baked as one big log first then again as slices so they get nice and crisp) and these particular biscuits, which most of the world knows as biscotti are actually called cantuccini in Italian.
They are definitely one of my favourite things to eat (and buy to bring back in bulk) from Italy. Typically they are served with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine, or black coffee. As I don’t like either, I had some of these yesterday morning with a nice cup of tea (this https://www.whittard.co.uk/m/tea/type/black-tea/afternoon-blend-tea has been my tea of choice for a long time). I also wanted to test out my new teapot purchase from TK Maxx. If it had been a more acceptable hour I would definitely have a few with some Amaretto. Also, a great little dessert is getting a few of these and some vanilla ice cream, so good!
What I loved most about these is how easy they were. I woke up yesterday morning and had everything I needed to make them already. That is especially true with the toppings as you can add whatever you like. Some suggestions:
- cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate chips
- Cointreau (orange liqueur), hazelnuts and chocolate chips
- pecans and cinnamon
The list really is endless. I’d say the only thing you need is a good proportion of nuts so that the structure holds up. Simply swap out the almonds and pistachios in the recipe below for the same weight of ingredients of your choice.
I will definitely be making these again at Christmas time for presents. I think the cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate one would be so pretty for Christmas (by the way I am NOT one of those Christmas people, even though I know I have just mentioned the C word three times). In fact, as I was off to meet my dad for lunch, I popper a few in a glassine bag to take to him.
We went to the fairly new The Honours at Malmaison in Glasgow. My dad always gets great voucher deals so we had a rather extravagant lunch of lobster, steak and Prosecco all for the bargain price of £49 for us both! I love going out for lunch with my dad and it was great to catch up.
Needless to say after than I was pretty full so for dinner I made some simple, classic tomato bruschetta. A perfect end to a great day.
A word about the dough, it it very sticky and soft but that’s ok. Just have plenty flour on hand and add it when needed. The actual amount of flour is really dependant on the amount of egg, type of sugar, liquid added etc so you may need more than stated below.
- 100 grams whole almonds
- 50 grams pistachios
- large eggs
- 150 grams granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 orange
- 275 grams plain flour (plus extra)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees (fan oven) and on a large baking tray lined with foil, spread out the almonds in an even layer. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don't burn. Remove and leave to cool. Roughly chop the almonds and pistachios and leave to one side.
- Leave the oven on a line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. You may want to do two just in case.
- In a large bowl, add the eggs and the sugar and beat lightly until lightly frothy, just about a minute or so (no need to beat until it is very thick). Add the Amaretto (see my tip if you don't have any), vanilla extract and orange zest and whisk again to incorporate.
- In a bowl, add in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together. Add into the egg and sugar mixture and with a wooden spoon mix into a dough. Finish by adding in the copped almonds and pistachios and making sure they are evenly spread throughout.
- The dough will be very sticky and wet. Place a generous amount of flour in a pile on a clean work surface, and spread some over your working area. When I'm mixing dough, I like a little pile on the side I can reach from so I don't have to stick messy hands into my flour. Tip out the dough and generously sprinkle with more flour. Separate into two and work into a fat log, adding more flour as you need it. It will be a soft dough so only add enough flour as you need to work the dough, but don't add too much and don't over work the dough, you are not needing it.
- I find it easier to shape the biscotti on the baking tray so place the log on the baking tray then gently stretch it out until it's about 16 inches long and two inches wide. Repeat with the other half. The biscotti will spread a little when cooking so place far enough apart or on a second baking tray. Sprinkle a little more granulated sugar on top.
- Place into the oven for the first bake for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye and rotate the tray half way through cooking so one side doesn't burn, this is especially important if you used two trays on two shelves.
- Remove from the oven, the logs should be pale in colour (like a while bread loaf) but firm to the touch. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes.
- Using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally, about 1-1.5 cm wide and place back on the baking tray cut side up. Place back in the oven for about 8-10 minutes on one side before flipping oven and in for another 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, especially if some are smaller. They should be firm on the outside and a light golden colour. Leave to cool completely before eating and storing in a air-tight container for up to 3 weeks.
- If you do not have Amaretto (although I highly recommend it as it is delicious, my favourite is Disaronno), use almond extract but only 1/2 teaspoon as it is very strong and can quickly overpower the biscotti. If you don't have either these will still taste delicious.
- This recipe calls for granulated sugar which is the classic sugar to use. If you only have caster sugar to hand that will work too.