The Daily Spud

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Let Them Eat Biscotti

Whatever about today being Paddy’s Day (and a very happy Lá ‘Le Pádraig to one and all), I can confirm that tomorrow, in my own little corner of the universe, it will be Biscotti Day. Biscotti Day doesn’t have a fixed date in the Spud calendar, but depends on a particular alignment of circumstances and sentiment which result in me taking a notion that biscotti needs must be made and graciously bestowed upon my fellow workers.

Biscotti and madeira

Biscotti and madeira, a match made in heaven

I have been in love with these twice-baked goodies ever since I learned how to make them at a one day course with Rachel Demuth at her cookery school in Bath. They were the first things I wanted to make when I got home from the course. I made them, brought them into work and found myself to be the architect of everyone’s happiness, for that day at least. Periodically thereafter, and when I was feeling particularly well-disposed towards my partners-in-work, I would make a batch of biscotti. It got to the point where the sight of a certain container being drawn forth from my bag upon arrival at work would generate a little frisson of excitement. Word would spread. Eyes would light up. This was Biscotti Day.

So today, the planets, in the midst of hurtling hither and thither across the universe, managed to align themselves in a formation that said biscotti. I took the hint. It was the right and only thing to do. I made my beloved biscotti and tomorrow, at work, and for reasons that will later become apparent to the eaters, it will be Biscotti Day. The Biscotti Day to end all Biscotti Days in fact.

Cranberry Biscotti

This a slightly modified version of the recipe as presented by Rachel Demuth at her lovely cookery school in Bath.

biscotti

You’ll need:
  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • large pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 200g almonds, chopped
  • 100g dried cranberries
You’ll also need:
  • A food processor. It’s not strictly necessary, but saves an awful lot of elbow grease on this one.
  • One large cookie sheet, about 20cm by 30cm.
The Steps:
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line your cookie sheet with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
  • Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, eggs and egg yolk in a food processor and mix until it forms a soft ball. Alternatively, you could develop your arm muscles and beat this by hand, though, personally, I’ve always gone the processor route.
  • Place the dough (which will be soft and a bit sticky) on a floured surface and gradually knead in the cranberries and almonds.
  • To do this, flatten the dough a little, scatter with some of the fruit or nuts, fold the dough over and knead until incorporated. Repeat until all of the fruit and nuts have been used. It may seem like there is a lot of stuff to incorporate into the dough, but stick with it. It all goes in eventually. I also find that the dough absorbs quite a lot of additional flour as you knead, so you’ll need to reflour the surface often.
  • Divide the dough into three and roll each into an oblong, about 5cm wide and 1cm high. They’ll be around 15-20cm long.
  • Place the dough strips on the cookie sheet, leaving at least 5cm between each strip, as they will spread.
  • Dust the dough with flour and, with a sharp knife, score the dough diagonally at roughly 2cm intervals (so make deep diagonal cuts in the dough every 2cm, but don’t cut right through).
  • Cover with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the covering paper and bake for a further 5 minutes or so, until pale golden and firm to the touch.
  • Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150C.
  • Cut the logs into thick slices along the diagonal score lines, lay the slices cut side up and return to the oven for 10 minutes more. They will have crisped up on the cut side, but will still retain some internal chewiness (which is how I like my biscotti). If you prefer much drier biscotti, bake them for about 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack, enjoy with madeira or espresso or whatever you’re having yourself.
The Variations:
  • For a Paddy’s Day green-and-gold effect, use pistachios instead of almonds and golden sultanas instead of cranberries.
The Results:
  • Makes about 30 small-ish biscotti.

27 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this! I’ve been meaning to make biscotti for months but haven’t done it yet. The pizzeria we frequent makes wonderful cranberry hazelnut biscotti that I want to copy. Your recipe sounds like the perfect place to start.

  2. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Ooh, cranberry/hazelnut sounds like a great combination. Go for it!

  3. ohh. i love madiera. what a perfect combination! cranberry hazelnut biscotti sounds like an amazing treat :)

  4. I love love love biscotti but I’ve never made them! These look delicious!! And I love cranberries — especially with white chocolate. You have me dreaming of biscotti goodness now!!

  5. Truly one of my favorite things, they look so good with cranberries, yum!

  6. I just made biscotti too! It was my first time and I really like it. I’ll have to try this one next.

  7. on behalf of the workers: thank you ! tres yummy …

  8. The cranberry biscotti looks delicious! I love the idea of Biscotti Day :)

  9. Aren’t you the kindest person ever! Some people might ignore the planets and leave all the coworkers on their own, in a cold and biscotti-less world. Not you, though–they look wonderful.

    This sounds like a wonderful cookie base to which you could knead in all sorts of goodness, according to planetary alignment and whatnot:)

  10. How beautiful this recipe is. I love biscotti and this is a nice one to make.

  11. It’s a rare and wonderful person who is both a biscotti-maker extraordinaire and so attuned to the universe! My lack of imagination would have had me chained to a biscotti-coffee pairing but madeira sounds ever so much better.

  12. Biscotti ranks right under scones for me as a coffee companion. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I love experimenting with different flavors. It was always my designated treat when we had to bring in office goodies at my old job.

  13. This biscotti looks scrumptious! I’m sure the almonds and cranberries add wonderful flavors.

  14. Wow – I don’t know what else to say, I am speechless, Its snack time and I am looking at exactly what I want to eat knowing that some lucky person have way round the world has munched their way through it by now.

    Happy Biscotti Day! Signing off to go find flour, sugar, cranberries…

  15. Daily Spud

    Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Heather: it’s wonderful with madeira – I love it!

    Chef Bliss: you could certainly put some white chocolate in these, I think that would be rather good :)

    Reeni: I love the tanginess that you get from the cranberries in these – they’re must-have for my biscotti!

    gaga: I was so surprised when I found out that it wasn’t really that hard to make biscotti – a great discovery indeed

    KD: you’re welcome, as always!

    Natasha: I think Biscotti Day is a worthy institution :)

    Jenni: absolutely! and who knows what kinds of combinations the planets would come up with – must be careful I don’t disappear down the black hole of biscottibilities :)

    noble pig: it is indeed a nice one to make!

    Tangled Noodle: not that there is anything wrong with biscotti + coffee, but I do recommend the combination with a sweet madeira as something that should be sampled

    Lori: and of course there are plenty of flavour possibilities, you can easily try out your favourite combinations of dried fruit and nuts in here

    zerrin: indeed so!

    OysterCulture: yep, the workers didn’t take long to devour these! I hope you have some of your own made by now :)

  16. Wow! What a beautiful picture!! I love those combinations!! I really appreciate a good Madeira!!

  17. Gah!! That really does look amazing…I never get all that excited about biscotti but I think you’ve done it justice!

  18. Let me know when biscotti day rolls around again. I’ll join you. Perhaps we can do some sort of joint biscotti post.

  19. I love almond biscotti…the cranberry is a beautiful color. this looks so good it doesn’t need any dipping in coffee.

  20. So many things to add to the to do list…including biscotti!

  21. That has to be the most tantalizingly gorgeous biscotti photo ever taken. I hope your fellow workers showed proper gratitude to you for bringing these in (i.e., prostrating themselves at your feet and chanting repeatedly “We’re not worthy, Daily Spud, we’re not worthy, Daily Spud…”). Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  22. I LOVE biscotti! I made cranberry and pistachio ones at Christmas, but my fellas all moan because they reckon they’re too hard. they don’t understand that that’s the point – they need dunking in hot chocolate, or Limoncello…mmmmm

  23. Daily Spud

    Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Sophie: I really appreciate a good madeira too, ever since I went to visit the island itself, lovely

    kickpleat: thanks, I’ve done well so :)

    Joie de Vivre: a joint biscotti post sounds like fun – I’ll let you know when Biscotti Day rolls around again (and you can do likewise of course!)

    gastroanthropologist: yep, these don’t need the coffee (or the madeira) but are particularly nice with either, as well as being very good on their own

    Duo Dishes: I couldn’t count the number of things that are on my to do list!

    Sapuche: well, they may not have been prostrating themselves, but I do think they appreciated them all the same! thanks for dropping by, btw, nice to welcome you here

    English Mum: brilliant, that’s a case of missing the point if ever there was one – still, it does mean that there’s more left for you to dunk, which can’t be bad! :)

  24. I love biscotti, and made it for the first Christmas when hubby took me home to meet his parents…it was a hit, and he was told I was a keeper!

    Your pictures are gorgeous…this is like food porn to me…

  25. Daily Spud

    Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Ah, Chef E, there you have the power of biscotti in a nutshell :)

  26. These look great. What exactly is “caster sugar?”
    Some fancy-dancy sugar that us ‘common folk’ aren’t priveledge too???

  27. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve never thought of caster sugar as fancy-dancy :) It’s just sugar that’s a bit more fine grained than regular granulated sugar, but not as fine as powdered sugar. You could use regular granulated sugar in these no problem.

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